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 Post subject: Dance Umbrella - Betsy Gregory to be new Artistic Director
PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:42 am 
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Dance Umbrella Press Release: Monday 10 April 2006

Betsy Gregory announced as new Artistic Director

Richard Jarman, Chairman of Dance Umbrella today announced the appointment of Betsy Gregory as Artistic Director Designate of Dance Umbrella. He said:

‘There was strong international interest in the job of Artistic Director. The Board undertook a rigorous process of selection for the candidate who offered an exciting vision for the future of Dance Umbrella. I am delighted that we have selected Betsy Gregory who brings not only a wealth of knowledge, artistic discernment and experience to the job, but also new ideas for how Dance Umbrella should develop in this important new phase of its existence. The Board is in no doubt that Betsy will build on the outstanding achievements of Val Bourne and take Dance Umbrella forward into an exciting future.’

Betsy Gregory is currently the Associate Artistic Director of Dance Umbrella. She will continue to work alongside Val Bourne and the rest of the Dance Umbrella team, prior to, and throughout the 2006 festival. Betsy will take up the post of Artistic Director Designate in June 2006 and then become Artistic Director formally in January 2007. Speaking about her appointment today she said:

‘I am honoured to be have been chosen to succeed Val Bourne as Artistic Director of Dance Umbrella. Val’s achievement over the past 28 years has been unparalleled and it is because of her that Dance Umbrella is the vibrant, forward-looking organisation it is today. Val is leaving Dance Umbrella in such wonderful shape and, having been entrusted with her legacy, I am thrilled about the prospect of rolling up my sleeves and taking Dance Umbrella forward into the future’.

Speaking about her successor, Val Bourne, founder of Dance Umbrella said:

‘Betsy Gregory has been my wonderfully supportive colleague for more than eight years and I am thrilled that she is now to be given the chance to realise her undoubted potential as leader. I know her to have vision, flair, imagination, authority and indeed all the qualities essential in an artistic director. She is passionate about dance as an art form and, because she cares about the artists who create and perform it, has earned their respect and that of her professional colleagues. I am absolutely delighted to be handing over the Dance Umbrella baton to Betsy and am confident that the organisation will thrive under her direction. I eagerly await her first festival in 2007 and many more thereafter.’
Paying tribute to the immeasurable contribution Val Bourne has to the UK dance industry, Richard Jarman, Chairman of Dance Umbrella said:

‘In the 28 years since she founded Dance Umbrella, Val has made an incalculable contribution to the development of contemporary dance in Britain. Her faith in backing outstanding talent has helped a great number of choreographers to develop their work over a long period. Alongside Val’s work with UK artists and companies, she has introduced a huge range of companies to Britain from overseas. Through these and many other initiatives, Val has made a crucial contribution to building a healthy and critically aware audience for contemporary dance throughout the country. I am sure that her last festival, later this year, will be as vital and compelling as ever.’

Dance Umbrella 2006

Dance Umbrella 2006 opens on 21 September at the redeveloped Roundhouse with the London premiere of Merce Cunningham’s spectacular OCEAN. OCEAN is Merce Cunningham’s most monumental work and is considered by many to be the most impressive and audacious piece in his company’s repertoire. Dance Umbrella’s unique presentation of OCEAN is set to be one of the UK’s cultural landmark events of 2006.

The festival programme also includes Frankfurt-based The Forsythe Company at Sadler’s Wells in the London premiere of Three Atmospheric Studies and a festival focus, across several venues, on the work of Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and her company, Rosas.

Australian Ros Warby makes her Dance Umbrella debut with SWIFT, a dance solo accompanied by live cello and film at The Place. The Czech/Italian company Déjà Donné, returns with its latest work, a Dance Umbrella commission, My Name is King. Other returning favourites include New York-based Stephen Petronio Company and South Africa’s Vincent Mantsoe. Dance Umbrella 2006 concludes on 4 November with the second part of Michael Clark's Stravinsky Project, Mmm… set to The Rite of Spring, at the Barbican Theatre. The full festival programme will be announced later this year.

NOTES:

Dance Umbrella was founded in 1978 with the aim of reflecting and encouraging the burgeoning interest in contemporary dance in Britain. From modest beginnings as a showcase for emerging choreographers, Dance Umbrella’s annual London festival now ranks highly among Europe’s leading international dance festivals. The organisation is recognised as one of Britain’s most adventurous dance promoters presenting a year round programme of work in London and across the UK.

Dance Umbrella has been responsible for introducing into this country some of the greatest international contemporary dance companies as well as nurturing, promoting and sponsoring some of the best of British modern dance. This was acknowledged and rewarded in June 2004 when Artistic Director Val Bourne received a CBE.

Dance Umbrella celebrates and champions contemporary dance and is dedicated to the development of choreography, choreographers and dancers. It has been doing this successfully since 1978.

Betsy Gregory was born and brought up in Massachusetts, USA. She received a BA in drama from Tufts University (Boston, MA), spending her final year in London. From 1973-76 she trained at London Contemporary Dance School and has worked in dance since then as a performer, teacher, administrator and programmer. As a free-lance dancer she performed with numerous companies and choreographers, most notably with Ian Spink. She was a founder member of Second Stride in 1982, and maintained a relationship with the company as performer and board member until its closure in 1998.

She has taught Tai Chi Ch'uan and contemporary technique at London Contemporary Dance School and has been a guest teacher for various companies including Adventures in Motion Pictures, The Cholmondeleys and The Featherstonehaughs and Second Stride. From January 1989 until April 1997 she worked at The Place Theatre, initially as Project Co-ordinator and, from 1994, as Associate Director. In November 1997 she joined Dance Umbrella as Programme Manager and, in January 2003, was promoted to Associate Artistic Director.

www.danceumbrella.co.uk


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:53 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Congratulations to Betsy Gregory on this appointment, one of the most prestigious in the Uk contemporary dance scene. betsy is a well-known and well-respected figure in the dance scene, always keen to have opinions about work we have seen.

The announcement mentionsthat Betsy has: "...new ideas for how Dance Umbrella should develop in this important new phase of its existence." More of the same is rarely a good approach these days and a major review would be a good idea, as Judith Mackrell discusses in her article on this theme.

I look forward to DU more than somewhat and the festival has introduced me to many fine artists and performances, but those I meet from continental Europe regard it as old-fashioned in its approach and guilty of "big-name" syndrome. Frankly, DU doesn't need to bring Mark Morris and Merce Cunningham every other year or more and if others bring them, I don't see why that should be a problem.

Last season's pre-performance events for younger artists was an interesting initiative, but the slot did seem to label the artists as an add-on to the main event. When DU kicked off it was seriously cutting edge and perhaps a part of the festival needs to be earmarked for such work. The UK critics will probably hate it, but that might be a good sign.

Very best wishes to Betsy and all at DU for the future of the most significant dance festival in the UK; and to Val Bourne for a long and happy retirement after doing so much to put contemporary dance on the map in the UK.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:35 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
While the AD appointment is decided the themes about the direction of DU are still relevant:

Stick or twist?
The woman who put the Dance Umbrella festival on the map is retiring, but is it time for bigger changes? By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian

In 2003, when Dance Umbrella celebrated its 25th anniversary, tributes poured in from fans and choreographers around the globe. It wasn't just the festival they were praising, however - they were also extolling the virtues of its founder and director, Val Bourne. And the testimonials could hardly have been more glowing.

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