Ballet Rambert - History

History

Dame Marie Rambert (1888-1982), founder of Rambert Dance Company, was born in Warsaw, where she was inspired to become a dancer after seeing Isadora Duncan perform. She went to Paris and after an early career as a recital artist and teacher she was engaged by Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes as assistant to the choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky on The Rite of Spring. She also taught Dalcroze Eurythmics to the company. During her year with the Ballets Russes her appreciation of classical ballet developed thus combining a love for traditional and new dance forms. During the First World War she settled in England where she met and married the playwright Ashley Dukes. Her association with Diaghilev led her to study ballet with the renowned Italian ballet master Enrico Cecchetti, after which she joined the company as a dancer in the corps de ballet. In 1919 Rambert established a dance school in Notting Hill Gate, London, teaching Checchetti's methods and in 1920, she transitioned into teaching ballet professionally. The school would become the foundation of today's Rambert Dance Company.

In 1926, Rambert formed a dance troupe using students from her school. Known as the Rambert Dancers, they performed in night time revue shows at various venues around London. In 1930, the troupe was re-established as the Ballet Club at the Mercury Theatre in London, which was owned by Rambert's husband. The Ballet Club was formed using the finest dance talent that Rambert could find and was to become the first classical ballet company established in the United Kingdom. The present day Rambert Dance Company is the same company established by Rambert and it continues to be the UK's oldest established dance company to this day. Despite being based at the Mercury Theatre, the company was best known as a touring company, travelling nationwide and it soon became known as the Ballet Rambert, the title by which it was most commonly recognised until the current name was adopted in the 1980s.

As the Ballets Russes had disbanded following the death of Serge Diaghilev in 1929, a number of Rambert's former colleagues joined the Ballet Rambert in its formative years, including Dame Alicia Markova and Sir Anton Dolin who would later became the first stars of Dame Ninette de Valois' Royal Ballet. A number of internationally renowned dancers and choreographers made their early appearances with the Ballet Rambert, including Sir Frederick Ashton, Sir Antony Tudor, Agnes de Mille, Andrée Howard, Pearl Argyle, Walter Gore, and Peggy van Praagh.

Whilst developing a strong ballet culture in Britain and insisting on solid classical training, Rambert always intended that her company would dictate new trends in dance. The Ballet Rambert was recognised as one of the most innovative ballet companies of the 20th century, producing some of the world's most renowned choreographers. By the middle of the century, the Royal Ballet had superseded the company as the UKs leading classical ballet company, so Rambert made the decision to diversify the work of the company, introducing modern and neoclassical work into the repertoire. In the 1960s, the Ballet Rambert moved completely from classical ballet, concentrating instead on the development of contemporary dance. The company has since developed a worldwide reputation in this field, becoming known as the Rambert Dance Company in 1987.

Rambert Dance Company, based in Chiswick, London, tours Britain annually, accompanied by its own orchestra 'the 'Rambert Orchestra' (formerly the associate orchestra London Musici). It is commonly associated with such theatres as Sadler's Wells the Theatre Royal, Brighton and The Lowry in Salford, Greater Manchester. Rambert Dance Company is currently raising money to enable it to progress with its move to the South Bank, London, to accommodate its 22 full-time dancers and administration staff. The current building in Chiswick is not sufficient for the size of the company and its orchestra to rehearse its extensive and diverse repertoire.

Notable members of the Company have included: Frederick Ashton, Antony Tudor, Diana Gould (who married Yehudi Menuhin), Maude Lloyd, Sally Gilmour, Beryl Goldwyn, Lucette Aldous, Christopher Bruce and Norman Morrice.

The current Artistic Director is Mark Baldwin (a former dancer with the company) and Executive Director is Nadia Stern.

In 2005 the Institute of Physics commissioned the Rambert Dance Company to produce a dance commemorating the centenary of Albert Einstein's groundbreaking scientific ideas of 1905. The piece, choreographed by Mark Baldwin, was called Constant Speed. One of the dancers, Ana Lujan-Sanchez, was named Outstanding Female Artist (Modern) at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards in 2003.

In 2009 the company toured The Comedy of Change with music composed by Julian Anderson and production design by Kader Attia. Choreography was by Mark Baldwin, who said: "This project started because Stephen Keynes, great-grandson of Charles Darwin, asked me if Rambert would be involved in the Darwin year 2009."

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