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Subject: "Rambert after Christopher Bruce" Archived thread - Read only
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Brendan McCarthymoderator

04-12-01, 06:31 AM (GMT)
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"Rambert after Christopher Bruce"
   LAST EDITED ON 04-12-01 AT 06:51 AM (GMT)

Christopher Bruce's decision to resign as Rambert's Artistic Director, after a distinguished career as first a dancer and later a choreographer with the company, raises intriguing questions about the succession. There is no obvious heir apparent within the company. A new Artistic Director must have an instinctive sympathy with Rambert's particular traditions, and at best will have a track record as a choreographer already. He or she will also need to have shown some previous flair for organisation, and for crafting programmes that both lead and connect with public taste.

One possible candidate, Wayne McGregor, is in the throes of establishing a resident company at Sadler's Wells, and may well rule himself out right away. But what about William Trevitt and Michael Nunn? They jointly applied for the artistic directorship of the Royal Ballet, and their values might sit well with those of Rambert. An intriguing but remote possibility might be Deborah Bull. She has shown artistic and entrepreneurial flair and must harbour the ambition to run a major company in the future. While she might hesitate to move out of the shadow of the ROH, she has no early prospect of heading the Royal Ballet. Rambert might offer her a good opportunity to build a track record as an artistic director, and to pave the way for an eventual move to a larger company.

Required reading is Susie Crow's and Jennifer Jackson's recent essay on "The Role of the Artistic Director". A checklist of attributes is included, which Rambert's search committee will doubtless have in mind. Here are some. "Facilitator, knowledge, motivator, unselfish, innovator, mentor, generous, editor, developer and preserver, strength in the face of bureaucracy ..."

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Rambert after Christopher Bruce Bruce Madmin 04-12-01 1
     RE: Rambert after Christopher Bruce Carly Gillies 04-12-01 3
         RE: Rambert after Christopher Bruce Robert 05-12-01 4
             RE: Rambert after Christopher Bruce BrendanMcCarthy 05-12-01 6
             RE: Rambert after Christopher Bruce Carly Gillies 05-12-01 7

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Bruce Madmin

04-12-01, 07:16 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Rambert after Christopher Bruce"
In response to message #0
   The news of Bruce's going came from a piece in today's Times:

They've regrettably jumped the gun - Rambert have a press release coming out but all news on this was marked as strictly embargoed until 10AM tomorrow (Wednesday). We will release more then. Poor show from the Times though.

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Carly Gillies

04-12-01, 03:53 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Rambert after Christopher Bruce"
In response to message #1
   Christopher Bruce must be so proud of Rambert.
He bears a large part of the responsibility for the present vibrant state of the company, and is a man I have huge respect for.
I hope he will continue to create dance for Rambert and/or others and I wish him well for his retirement.

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05-12-01, 03:20 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Rambert after Christopher Bruce"
In response to message #3
   Christopher Bruce did a good job with Rambert and I am sorry he is going.
We could have a new poll on his replacement at Rambert. I am not keen on MacGregor or Deborah Bull, although she is favoured in New Labour circles, so she could bring in funds. Richard Alston did not do much for thier finances last time. I like the idea of the balletboyz Nunn and Trevitt. What about Adam Cooper? Irek applied for the CG job, is he too classical? Robert North has recently been kicked out of Scottish ballet and did a great job against all odds up there, he could show the Scots how foolish they were to get rid of him.

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05-12-01, 06:42 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Rambert after Christopher Bruce"
In response to message #4
   Jann Parry, the Observer's dance critic, has just been talking about the succession at Rambert to Sean Rafferty on BBC Radio 3's "In Tune". She dismissed the idea that there was a particular sense of crisis in the dance world. Companies needed to renew themselves, she said, and it was scarcely surprising that people like Christopher Bruce felt, having borne the heat of the sun, that they "might want to spend more time with their families".

She distinguished between companies led by 'curators' and those led by choreographers. The big companies need curators, she argued. Companies led by choreographers, such as Merce Cunningham's and Paul Taylor's, have moments of crisis when the founders move on. She instanced in particular the traumas which beset the Martha Graham Dance Company after Graham herself died. But ballet companies were in a stronger position, as the repertory was more diverse.

Parry argued that Rambert needed a good curator at this stage of its development. A choreographer-director was eventually drained by the continuous pressure of having both to create and to manage. He found himself having to use the dancers that other choreographers did not. The choreographer-director had to look to his dancers to refresh his choreography, or to resort to such unsettling methods as those used by William Forsythe to decentre himself.

Rafferty pressed Parry for a list of possible successors. Reluctantly she offered the following names: Wayne McGregor, Matthew Bourne (albeit that he was very busy with his own company), Michael Clark and Henri Oguike.

This morning Prue Skene, the Chairman of the Rambert board, told Ann Williams, who attended the press conference for ballet.co, that the new Artistic Director 'would not necessarily be a choreographer'. It is a telling remark. Clearly the net will be spread very wide.

Ashley Page is a possible candidate, so also might be Mark Baldwin. Perhaps Bruce Sansom might be interested; while his background is heavily balletic, his horizons will have been stretched by his time in San Francisco and Washington.

Another name to conjure with is that of Richard Wherlock, the Director of Ballet Basel. He is a former dancer with Rambert, has an established reputation in Europe as a choreographer, and - very importantly - is experienced in running a company.

But, if she applies, Deborah Bull will be a very strong candidate. She would have an empathy with Rambert's balletic roots, while also having a clear track-record in reaching out to modern dance, both as a performer and in her work as Artistic Director at the Linbury and the Clore. Crucially, she has management experience, entrepreneurial flair, and would be a very articulate advocate for the company.

If her ultimate ambition lies at the Royal Opera House, she would do well to leave it for several years at this stage of her career. As companies seek to draw on the creative experiences of other company cultures, the day of the Royal Ballet 'lifer' is over. Anyone who has an eye to leading the company in - say - ten years time, has to broaden his or her experience elsewhere now.

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Carly Gillies

05-12-01, 11:31 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Rambert after Christopher Bruce"
In response to message #4
   >Robert North
>has recently been kicked out
>of Scottish ballet and did
>a great job against all
>odds up there, he could
>show the Scots how foolish
>they were to get rid
>of him.

He's already had a stab at it, and I'm not too sure how much either he or Rambert would welcome the suggestion of him going back for a second time as their AD! But then again, you never can tell...

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