Main Picture - ‘Zansa' choreographed by Richard Alston; Top — Mark Baldwin in Soda Lake (1986); Middle- Marie Rambert. founder of Ballet Rambert: Bottom —Thomas Yang in “The Tempest‘. with Gianlrango Paoluzi as Ariel.
Stressing that pretension and elitism is not what Rambert is about. he says that the company is capable of tackling work which ‘perhaps some theatre managers might think unpalatable for a general audience.‘ Success would lie in the commitment of company members and their high level ofpcrformance. ‘They could convince people of the value ofthe work.‘
It is unlikely that many theatre managers would disagree with
Alston‘s decision to commission a new piece by Michael Clark for the Diamond Jubilee season. An ex-member of Rambert himself. Clark attracts new waves of publicity and curious audiences wherever he _or his choreography pirouettes. The good-looking Aberdonian is the naughty but super-talented boy of British dance. ‘He and I used to work together particularly.‘ says Alston. Soda Lake, also part of the Jubilee programme. was specially made by Alston for Michael Clark while he was still with the company.
‘When I took over he was most supportive and I asked him to come and work with the dancers he knew.‘ by this time Clark had already guest-choreographed for two other major companies, Scottish Ballet and London Festival Ballet. Swamp came to Rambert.
‘It’s quite slow. quite menacing. beautifully paced and has an extraordinarily exciting finish.‘
Alston began dancing while studying for a very different career. At art college. he simply ‘got more and more interested and eventually threw in the paint rags and took up dancing entirely.‘ At eighteen he enrolled as one ofthe first full—time students at the London School of Contemporary Dance. ‘1 was very
lucky to be in at the beginning of the A
contemporary dance organisation! In 1975, after leading a small group ofchoreographers/dancers. Strider. Alston went to New York. the mecca of modern dance, to study at the Merce Cunningham Studio.
‘New York had an enormous effect on my work. You could see the whole range of dance there. I also made connections and very good friends who will be ofgreat help now. with Rambert. A lot ofthem are already interested in coming over to teach and choreograph.‘ There‘s hope that next year, Cunningham. creator of an eponymous technique and an undisputed genius of contemporary dance. will work on a new piece for Rambert‘s repertoire.
In the meantime. Rambert have planned to visit the Big Apple at the end ofJanuary. The programmes going west are identical to those being shown in Glasgow‘s Theatre Royal later this month. Ofthe eight pieces included. four have been choreographed by Alston. ‘New York asked to see dances. They're very curious to see my work. That‘s what I’ve been told. I hope that Glasgow will be too.‘ He laughs. And perhaps Glasgow is a particularly apt city to preview a New York season. Alston agrees. ‘It's the only place outside Soho in New York I‘ve seen cast iron buildings,’ he says. referring to the Ca d’Oro and Gardner‘s iron-framed. 19th century buildings in Glasgow‘s city centre.
The architectural comparison is not surprising. Since leaving art college. he has retained a strong interest in the visual arts. Fine artists have collaborated on three of the pieces being shown in Glasgow. ‘Artists whose work I admire are absolutely dying to work in the theatre. As soon as you ask someone they’re maybe nervous but absolutely thrilled.‘
John Hoyland. the English abstract painter, is the latest to lend his talent to Alston‘s stage. It was a close collaboration. ‘John came and watched rehearsals and then I went to see him in the studio. We kept in
touch that way.‘
Zam‘a, the dance created, shares its name with a tinkly African thumb piano. the inspiration for Nigel Osborne‘s score. It’s the kind of artistic adventure Alston wants to rekindlle in a company which has a tradition of change, none so great as the move from classical to modern dance twenty years ago.
Alston explains. ‘Curiously. that element ofchange has become part of Rambert‘s character.‘ And it is here that Marie Rambert. founder of the company in 1926 is mentioned. ‘It‘s to do with the spirit ofthat particular woman. Marie Rambert. She was an amazingly strong character. Through all the company‘s strange changes and disasters. there seems to be some curious integrity or essence which still feels like Rambert. It's important to me that everything I do she would understand and support.‘
Though Marie Rambert did not live to see her company‘s Diamond Jubilee. her spirit still exerts strong inﬂuence. ‘Several ofthe dancers and myself knew her in the last years of her life. when she was still involved with the company. You didn‘t meet her and forget her. She had that extra energy — something one can certainly try and emulate.‘ I o lHEATHE HOYAL l lope Street. (lilt'l‘.\g’()H'
Ballet Rambert 25—29 Nov. 7.45pm. £843.
The List is Giving Away five pairs of top price tickets (£8 each), for Ballet Rambert's performance at 7.45pm on Thursday 27 November at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow.
To apply, simply fill in the form below and make sure it reaches us by 12 noon on Wednesday19 November.
The first five applications opened will be sent a pair of free tickets to see Programme 1: Carmen Arcadia/ Rfcercare/Night with Waning Moon.
To Ballet Rambert Ticket Offer, The List Ltd, 14 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TE. lwould like to apply for a pair of free tickets for Ballet Rambert on Thursday 27 Nov at the Theatre Royal.
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The List 14 — 27 November 7