Leaps and ounds

Ellie Carr looks forward to the relaunch of Rambert Dance after a long absence from Scotland.

Surely there‘s some mistake. Major dance companies come to Edinburgh in the Festival. not in October when all the tourists have gone home and the locals are all down the pub.

But here it is. Rambeit Dance Company with its first Scottish dates for several years. Not only that. but the Edinburgh dates will act as the platform for the company‘s major relaunch under its new artistic director, Christopher Bruce.

So what brought all this on‘.’ Why relaunch in a town. never mind a country. you haven't included in your touring schedule for over live years?

‘For obvious reasons the major relaunch is happening in Edinburgh.‘ says Rambett's chief executive. Angela l)reyer-Larsen in a Scottish accent still strong despite years away. For obvious, read Edinburgh Festival Theatre. ‘lt has the biggest and best stage in the country.‘ she says, echoing the words ofevery dance company that has trod the boards of the great glass magnet on Nicolson Street this year.

The old Empire's potential as a national dance- house is fast becoming clear. but does l)reyer- Larsen's conviction for the Edinburgh launch idea

Rambert now stands as Britain's oldest established company

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stem partly from a sense of loyalty to her native home? Of that she is unasharned. and admits she has had to stick her neck out down south to ensure that Scotland and Wales. and in time Ireland. are included on the Rambert dance map.

The new-look company will occupy a unique position in British dance. At one time. large-scale contemporary dance in this country was something of a two-horse race. but now. just as Rambert is building tip the ranks from eighteen to twenty-five. London Contemporary Dance the old opposition is scaling down. so much so that Rambert is now the only large-scale contemporary dance company in the UK.

‘We will not be doing The Nutcracker, but we will be adaptable enough to do works that use a balletic style.’

‘For many years. the two companies worked very well alongside one another.‘ says Dreyer-Larsen. ‘There‘s a big gap in the market now.‘ It is a gap that this company seems to have no qualms about filling with the stuff of Rambert. More cynical minds might discern a bid to monopolise its end of the market. but the relative demise of LCD and the rise of the new Rambett. says Dreyer-Larsen. is coincidental. The tired old face of Raman was in dire need of a lift. she explains. ‘The changes that had to be made were so major. the only way to do it was to start from scratch.‘

Rambert. of course. has a long history and now stands as Britain‘s oldest established company. It began life in 1926 as Ballet Rambert and became a

Rambert Dance Company: size. scale and extra added oomph contemporary dance company in I966 with a nifty little name change. Rambert Number Three is selling size. scale and extra added oomph. but also a broad- based. accessible kind of dance. l)reyer-Larsen describes the new company as versatile. explaining that all 25 of the dancers are as adept in ballet as they are in contemporary.

So if Rambeit is to be the big guy in British contemporary dance. how come ballet is back on the agenda? ‘We are not going back to being a Ballet Rambert.‘ she assures. ‘We are a committed large- scale contemporary dance company. We will not be doing The Nutcracker. but we will be adaptable enough to do works that use a balletic style.‘

The company sees its new role in the dance scheme ofthings as a responsible one. Bruce fully intends to showcase new work. both his own and other work from around the world. but he also feels it‘s important to keep that old. large-scale contemporary repertoire alive. Equally important for the future of British dance. says l)reyer-Larsen. is Rambert's education programme and its policy to coax new choreographic talent up through the company ranks. just as the old Rambert did with the young Christopher Bruce.

Dreyer-Larsen talks long and animatedly. of the new Rambert feasts of dance. music and dance; of putting the fun back in contemporary dance; of quality. excellence and the big. varied audiences she hopes will be there to see it all.

And Christopher Bruce”? How much of this is down to him? Dreyer-Larsen comes back suitably reverent. ‘1 don't think there's another artistic director in the world who could make this happen.‘

Rambert Dance Company. Festival Theatre. Edinburgh, I 9—22 Oct.

The List 7—20 October 1994 51