75 YEARS OF CREATIVITY: A RAMBERT DANCE COMPANY RETROSPECTIVE
THEATRE MUSEUM, 12 APRIL - 28 OCTOBER 2001
On 15 June 1926 the visionary Polish dance teacher, Marie Rambert, presented a short ballet by her pupil Frederick Ashton at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, marking the birth of what was to become Ballet Rambert and the most influential force in the development of British ballet. 75 years later, Rambert Dance Company is Britain's oldest dance company and its flagship contemporary dance ensemble, renowned for the breadth of its repertoire, the superb quality of its dancers and its continuing commitment to creativity.
The Theatre Museum marks this important anniversary with a retrospective exhibition mounted in conjunction with the Rambert Archive. In posters, designs, artefacts and photographs which capture the glamour and excitement of performance (and include images of Rambert's current Artistic Director, Christopher Bruce, at the height of his dancing career), the exhibition reflects Rambert's extraordinary creative achievement and provides an insight into the day-to-day practices of a famously hard-working organisation.
Seminal works illustrated with costume, set designs and posters, or by the work of major dance photographers such as Anthony Crickmay and Bertram Park, include:
Frederick Ashton's "A Tragedy of Fashion", designed by Sophie Fedorovitch, which marked the birth of Rambert in 1926
Antony Tudor's "Dark Elegies", designed by Nadia Benois
Glen Tetley's "Pierrot Lunaire", designed by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, a work synonymous with Rambert's reformation as a contemporary Company in the late 60s
Christopher Bruce and Lindsay Kemp's extraordinary "Cruel Garden"
Bruce's popular masterpiece, "Ghost Dances", enjoyed by a BBC television audience of almost one million last year.
Computer-generated costume designs for Mark Baldwin's "Gone"
Colour charts of fabric swatches for Merce Cunningham's "Fielding Sixes"
The Museum is an appropriate venue in which to celebrate the anniversary, for Gabrielle Enthoven, whose collection is the foundation on which the Museum's extensive documentary archives are built, was herself an enthusiastic supporter of the Ballet Club (as the Company was originally known) from its earliest days. The Museum's extensive holdings on Diaghilev's Ballets Russes are a reminder that Marie Rambert began her dance career with that company.
Many of the designs on show come from Damr Marie Rambert's own collection, which she bequeathed to the Theatre Museum. These join her legendary collection of Romantic Ballet lithographs, which hung in the bar of the Mercury Theatre and which were given to the Museum in 1968. An evocative highlight of the exhibition is an iconic section of ballet barre from the Mercury Theatre in Notting Hill, first home of the Company, at which future stars of British dance were put through their paces by the inspirational, if unforgiving, Madam Rambert. The posters provide a fascinating record of the stylistic changes in graphic design, especially Rambert's use of photography from the late 1960s, while also reflecting the breadth of Company's touring from its earliest days.
Rambert Dance Company celebrates its 75th anniversary with programmes that emphasise its remit as Britain's only large-scale contemporary dance repertory company. Defining ballets from the Company's heritage are staged alongside an ambitious range of new creations, international masterworks and popular classics. The Company presents celebratory seasons at the LINBURY STUDIO THEATRE AT THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE (2-5 May) and SADLER'S WELLS (12-23 June and 14-24 November), and tours to venues across the country from 26 September.
For further information, please contact Sue Rolfe at the Theatre Museum, 020 7943 4740, or Catriona Macrae-Gibson at Rambert, 020 8630 0612/ 07860 166253/ email@example.com