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Bob Lockyer - Mr Television Dance
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Author:  David [ Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:54 am ]
Post subject:  Bob Lockyer - Mr Television Dance

Mr television dance

David Mead

“Dance changes people’s lives, either by doing it or by watching it. That is why I think it is important to support it in any way I can.” (Bob Lockyer)
Bob Lockyer with dancer Winfried Kirsch in 1967, Photo Anthony Crickmay.jpg
Bob Lockyer with dancer Winfried Kirsch in 1967, Photo Anthony Crickmay.jpg [ 77.08 KiB | Viewed 3554 times ]

If there is one name associated with dance on television in Britain, it is surely Bob Lockyer. Described as “one of the great heroes of British dance” by the National Dance Critics’ Circle, Lockyer played an important part in the development of dance in the UK. In a 40-year career as director and producer of dance programmes for BBC television has played a huge part in developing the art form’s popularity, including creating “Dance for the Camera”, a series of over 50 short dance works, some of which went on to win the Prix Italia, International Emmys and the Prague d’Or. He was the first chair of Dance UK, and has taught and lectured around the world.

In an interview with Douglas Rosenberg at the University of Brighton in 2008 (you can read it in full at ( ... ew/319/313), Lockyer explained that, when he started, television was very much more creative medium than today, but the major problem was that dance makers weren’t getting much of a look in. Dance on TV was very much replays or things that we brought specially into the studio.

Perhaps surprisingly, the spark that really set things running for Lockyer was when Margaret Thatcher decided that 25% of the BBC’s output had to be made by independents. He explained how that allowed him to work with the Arts Council. And so, dance for the camera was born.

Lockyer went on to say that he absolutely believes the best stage work should be made available to as many people as possible. With touring becoming increasingly expensive, that made television more and more important.

Lockyer was also the Founder Chair of Dance UK. He also helped establish the much admired Healthier Dancer Programme that has been copied all over the world. Until recently, he was Chair of South East Dance, the national dance agency, based in Brighton.

Lockyer’s achievements are not restricted to dance. Dance programming at the BBC came under the Classical Music Department, where he also reformed BBC Young Musicians, extending it beyond the popular search to find some of Britain’s most talented young musicians by giving young composers and conductors the chance to work with the BBC Philharmonic and looking at music therapy and jazz.

To celebrate Lockyer’s achievements, The Place, home of the London Contemporary Dance School, is holding a very special evening of dance on Friday April 13, 2012, on the occasion of his 70th birthday. For one night only, five of the country’s outstanding dance artists - Richard Alston, Mark Baldwin, Siobhan Davies, Wayne McGregor and Monica Mason - have been invited by Bob to curate an evening of original choreography, either creating a new piece, or commissioning young talents. Richard Alston and Mark Baldwin will each be presenting a new piece of choreography; Siobhan Davies has commissioned Charlie Morrissey, from Siobhan Davies Dance Company; Monica Mason has chosen a graduate-year student from The Royal Ballet School, Sebastian Goffin; and Rob Binet, Choreographic Apprentice at The Royal Ballet, has been appointed by Wayne McGregor. The evening will feature dancers from Rambert Dance Company, Wayne McGregor|Random Dance, Richard Alston Dance Company, London Contemporary Dance School and The Royal Ballet School, and live musical accompaniment. As well as performing Alston’s homage to Bob Lockyer, the Richard Alston Dance Company will close the event with “Shuffle It Right”, one of Alston’s iconic pieces.

Lockyer says, “Dance in all its forms has been part of my life for over 40 years, along with those who perform it, create it, and teach it. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my 70th birthday than by asking friends to present new works for this performance, supporting younger talents and giving us all a night to remember, whilst investing in the future of the art form I love the most.”

Tickets for this special performance are £20, including a £10 donation to be equally shared between two funds supporting the creation of new dance works: the Royal Philharmonic Society Drummond Fund and The Place’s Pioneering Fund.

Tickets are available from the box office (020 7121 1100) or via

Author:  David [ Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bob Lockyer - Mr Television Dance

A Celebration of Bob Lockyer
The Place, London; April 13, 2012

David Mead

“Time flies when you are having fun” said Bob Lockyer in the opening line of the programme for his 70th birthday celebration at The Place. He was talking about his time working at the BBC where he recorded many of Robert Cohan’s seminal works for the London Contemporary Dance Theatre’s such as “Cell”, “Waterless”, “Method of Swimming Instruction”, “Stabat Mater”, “Forest”…, plus work by Ballet Rambert, Christopher Bruce, Richard Alston, Mark Baldwin and others. He also, of course, created “Dance for the Camera”, a series of over 50 programmes that received many major international awards.

Lockyer’s comment, though, applied equally to this birthday party performance. You might have expected the evening to look back at some of the wonderful films he produced, many of which languish in the BBC archives and haven’t been seen for years. Not so. Lockyer wanted the evening to look forward, so instead he invited some of the leading names in British dance to commission new pieces from emerging choreographers, or present something new themselves.

First up were Drew Hawkins and Andy Macleman, third year undergraduates from the London Contemporary Dance School, who twisted and turned in Macleman’s “Drone”. Dressed in outsized collarless grey coats they whirled around each other in a slow-motion and rather tender Dervish fashion.

Classical ballet is something of a rarity at The Place but that didn’t stop Monica Mason commissioning a piece from Royal Ballet School final year student Sebastian Goffin. His “Papillon” was a charming moment in the lives of two young lovers in the Kensington Gardens of the 1830s. It opened with both sat on a park bench, Mayara Magri reading quietly while Skyler Martin got increasingly bored and fidgety. How refreshing it was to see a young choreographer who is not afraid of some stillness in dance. The pas de deux that developed was full of the innocence of youth and delightfully ‘English’. Fred would have loved it. It got a huge ovation and deservedly so.

In Mark Baldwin’s “Prayer” a quartet of women from Rambert took turns in coming to life in a series of solos full of arabesques and pirouettes but often with sharply angled arms, standing still at other times. It was somewhat reminiscent of Cunningham, beautifully danced, yet cool. “The Way It Works Is This…”, commissioned by Siobhan Davies, and danced and choreographed by Charlie Morrissey consisted of a great deal of walking, sometimes on all fours, back and forth across the stage to Orlando Gough’s soundscore. It certainly evoked moments from early film sequences as intended, but would have struggled to hold the interest beyond its five minutes.

Of the new pieces, the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly “Lake Maligne” by Rob Binet, Choreographic Apprentice at The Royal Ballet, and commissioned for the evening by Wayne McGregor. Dressed starkly in white and dancing against a black background, Random dancer Daniela Neugebauer brought to life superbly the combination of angular lines and graceful sinuous beauty found in Canadian “Group of Seven” artist Lawren Harris’ paintings of the Canadian north, from where the inspiration for the piece came. The dance, initially full of trademark McGregor twists and exaggerated extensions before becoming gradually more lyrical, was austere yet had monumental force and elegance. It quite rightly got a storming reception.

Richard Alston’s company made three contributions to proceedings, all packed with outstanding precision and easy on the eye dance. “Isthmus” was a playful new short piece by Alston himself. An excerpt from Robert Cohan’s “In Memory” gave the one real look back in the evening, and in which Nancy Nerantzi was entrancing in a duet with Liam Riddick. And for a party it’s hard to think of a better closing piece than “Shuffle It Right”. Hoagy Carmichael’s jazzy “Riverboat Shuffle” and “March of the Hoodlums”, allied with Alston’s joyous choreography sent everyone home very happy indeed.

Happy Birthday Bob!

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