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Subject: "Constant Lambert Tribute at the Clore Studio 8/4" Archived thread - Read only
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Lynette H

10-04-01, 04:40 PM (GMT)
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"Constant Lambert Tribute at the Clore Studio 8/4"
   Constant Lambert Tribute, Clore Studio, 8/4/01

Sundayís event at the Clore studio was a interesting mix of music, dance, discussion and reminiscence concerning Constant Lambert, the Royal Balletís founding music director. It was an interesting and enlightening evening - and it was a free event. This isnít a review, exactly - it was an informal event - more an account of the evening - demand for tickets was considerable and the event Ďsold outí (if a free event can sell out) some time ago, on the basis of very little publicity.

Itís pleasing that the Royal are celebrating Lambert (he died 50 years ago), but you canít help but reflect that two free performances for such a significant figure in the creation of the company is perhaps a little muted for a celebration, given the level of tribute currently being extended to Anthony Dowell as he retires as the current Artistic Director (exhibitions, costumes on display, the gala etc etc). But all credit to Deborah Bull who runs the Artistís Development Initiative for organising something.

The evening was introduced by David Owen Norris, who contributed a number of Lambert anecdotes, not all of which are repeatable. The aim was to show a little of Lambertís different interests: as a composer, including work specifically for dance, and his interest in narration (he narrated the Sitwellís text for Facade). The evening opened with two songs for soprano, flute and harp. There were then three dance items created for the occasion, to Lambertís music. Some of these would have benefited from more sophisticated lighting than can be achieved in the Clore - but this is a minor quibble.

The first work was Cathy Marstonís Three Words Unspoken to ĎTrois pieces negres pour les touches blancsí, set on Tamara Rojo, who looked as impressive as ever, and Brian Maloney, who is I think a relatively new joiner to the RB. Iíd certainly like to hear more about him, if anyone has details - he partnered Tamara with aplomb through some typically tricky lifts. The duet seemed a familiar story of pent up frustration, attraction and nervousness between the couple that seemed only tentatively resolved. It seemed a very dark piece in every sense - rather too dimly lit to appreciate some of the finer points, though.

Gone Tomorrow was an interesting mix. It was made by Matthew Hawkins, ex RB who has led his own contemporary group for some time. The dancers were a mixture of Hawkins own dancers (himself, Franziska Rosenweig, Yalckun Abdurehim) and RB dancers. It offered an interesting mix of body types, ages and training. The music was the Salome Suite: but the relationship to the music didnít seem that strong, and some of the more interesting sections were performed in silence. This seemed like an experiment which hadnít quite come off - one day Iíd like to see an interesting and contrasted use of modern and ballet dancers in the same work, but I donít think that was the aim here. Hawkins is a very watchable dancer, and my eye kept being drawn to him whenever he appeared.

The last work was light, charming, and very popular with the audience: this was Tuckettís Mr Bear-squash-you-all-flat, a ballet based on a Russian fairy story with narration by Terry Edwards, the ROH chorus master. He is about seven feet tall, and all the dancers looked convincingly childlike next to him. It was very straightforward, easy to follow story with strongly delineated animal characters (Luke Heydon as a frog: Laura Morera as a mouse; Cervera as a duck). It was somewhat reminiscent of the Peter and the Wolf created for the RBS some years back. Tuckett in the later discussion admitted he had Ďcome something of a cropperí with attempting to tell very complex narratives on stage, and he was pleased to have Lambertís structure to work within. It was funny and very engaging, with nice opportunities for all the dancers: the style was more like Tuckettís earlier Celtic piece for Dance bites - no pointe shoes, and a sweetly innocent air.

The discussion that followed gave some of the audience, including Pamela May and others, the opportunity to provide memories of working with Lambert. The choreographers joined Deborah Bull to answer questions about the eveningís works. It was a pleasant and relaxed discussion: Deborah Bull underlined the fact that the ADI at the Clore was intended to provide a chance to experiment and if necessary to fail : we might see things there that we perhaps didnít like, but she hoped we would keep returning to see other new works. The evening got a very positive response: there are further ADI events at the Clore later this month (Duo:logue) and in May - I have a feeling these may have limited availability. But itís either free or very modestly priced, and a great chance to see some interesting dancers up close.

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Constant Lambert Tribute at the Clore Studio 8/4 Richard D 10-04-01 1
  RE: Constant Lambert Tribute at the Clore Studio 8/4 Robert 11-04-01 2
     RE: Constant Lambert Tribute at the Clore Studio 8/4 Brendan McCarthymoderator 11-04-01 3

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Richard D

10-04-01, 06:23 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Constant Lambert Tribute at the Clore Studio 8/4"
In response to message #0
   Hats off to the Artists Development Initiative for organising such a wonderful evening of music, dance and choreography. Cathy Marston's piece was particularly riveting, confirming Tamara Rojo as an amazing all embracing dancer to those who may only be familiar with her in less contemporary roles. I'm truly appreciative of the opportunity to see free events of such high quality - but only wish access to projects such as these were made more widely available. Most of the audience on Monday evening seemed to be dancers, ex dancers, critics or other members of the dance hierarchy, leaving little room for 'ordinary' members of the public. Surely after such hard work organising these events more access can be given somehow to Joe Public. How about a repeat performance in the Linbury?

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11-04-01, 05:47 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Constant Lambert Tribute at the Clore Studio 8/4"
In response to message #0
   What a wonderful event, even though Constant Lambert was a bit neglected, not too much on his music and only one risky story about his sex life. It was an opportunity to see some of the RBís really good dancers very close up, a private performance of a new triple bill.
Constant Lambert was one of the most important and influential people involved in the formation and artistic policy of the company that is now The RB and the BRB. Oh that he was still around now!
I enjoyed his songs sung and played very well by students from Trinity College and all the music played.for the dancing. I was not sure about either of the first two ballets both about the usual miserable subjects that so interest the self-indulgent artistic community nowadays. Lots of heavy breathing and meaningful (meaningless?) gestures. Having had a very stressful journey to the theatre and having being held up by a political demonstration in London it was all much too serious, but it did have superb dancers really close up.
William Tucketís ballet based on a childrenís story read by Terry Edwards was lovely and would possibly make a good piece for a triple bill in the Opera House. It is so good to know that there is the talent to put together such a witty and interesting show. Poor William Tucket has suffered some terrible criticism for some of his ballets, I now realise he is very talented and should concentrate on a more light-hearted approach. Peter Wright made interesting comments in the discussion and said that what was missing from ballet now was wit and the opportunity to create smaller more intimate ballets. Pamela May added some memories of Constant Lambert and also asked why they do not revive some of the interesting ballets of the past. It must have been the best bargain in London, and I am pleased not to have missed it. Congratulations to Debora Bull and all those who organised it.

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Brendan McCarthymoderator

11-04-01, 07:14 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Constant Lambert Tribute at the Clore Studio 8/4"
In response to message #2
   Just a few margin notes to add to the earlier contributions. It was very moving to hear from Lambert's contemporaries Pamela May, Peter Wright, and Leo Kersley on Sunday night. Leo Kersley remembered that ballet was part of the intellectual ferment of the 1930s and was "constantly discussed", unlike now. Lambert, he remembered, was keenly aware of the wider political and artistic currents of the time (he contributed to the left-wing journal 'Sunday Referee'). He would, Kersley suggested, have deplored a modern tendency to 'do ballets to music' devoid of rigour in the dialogue between music and choreography. This Lambert would have seen as the end of ballet as a serious art. "Who", Kersley queried, "takes ballet seriously now?"

Peter Wright suggested that the existence of smaller performing spaces such as the Mercury and the Old Vic meant that choreographers in the pre-war years could take risks more easily. This resonated in particular with William Tuckett, who spoke of how he had enjoyed the opportunity of making a dance-piece for a smaller space.

Deborah Bull spoke ruefully about the fact that it was cheaper to fail in the 1930s. Failure was now very expensive; yet licence to fail was an integral part of creativity.

It was a good evening, and a very appropriate act of remembrance.

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