Rambert Summer of Dance
If you’re at a loss for something both fun and beneficial for yourself and your brood, why not try swinging a leg at Rambert’s Summer of Dance?
In a full on programme of classes, workshops, and activities for participants of all ages and abilities running through August, Rambert hopes to fill the void left by the longer summer days with no school and fewer regular dance classes.
To find out more, I dropped by the company’s HQ to observe a couple of classes and speak to some of those responsible for Summer of Dance: Rambert’s Head Of Learning and Participation, Julia Fitzelle, and Rambert animateur, Hannah Lockyer. In case you’re wondering, animateurs are teachers and dancers especially trained by company members to lead these sessions.
The summer intensives are 'designed to be fun, high quality, week-long workshops led by company dancers and expert Rambert animateurs,' Julia tells me.
Hannah adds: 'All dance enthusiasts are welcome, whether you have never set foot in a studio before or are returning to a former profession.
“Participants attending one of our Rambert summer schools should expect to feel a real buzz as soon as they walk through the door. They will literally be dancing in the footsteps of our professional dancers in our state of the art studios.'
If you worry about making a fool of yourself in a class full of people a lot more experienced than than you, fear not. As Julia explains,
'We try to describe our offer as clearly as possible so that participants can make an informed choice on which level they attend. Our children and young people’s intensives are levelled by age and our adults are intermediate or advanced.'
Furthermore, she adds, 'our animateurs are all highly experienced teachers and can cater to the individual needs of participants in sessions.'
On the evening I observed both a contemporary and a ballet class in Rambert’s light and airy studios, this was certainly evident. The classes were relaxed and unintimidating for dancers and improvers of all levels.Teachers gave notes and gentle encouragement. There was no yelling or pressure to do better, participants were simply allowed to develop and learn in their own way.
Rambert Contemporary, Photo Stephen Wright
For those with some dance training, each summer school has a focus on specific repertoire from Rambert’s rich ninety-year history and will provide participants with the unique opportunity to learn and finesse some of the company’s classics.
This year repertoire includes Ghost Dances, Rooster, and Hush by Christopher Bruce, Tomorrow by Lucy Guerin, Flight by Malgorzata Dzierzon, award-winning Transfigured Night by Kim Brandstrup, and Itzik Galili's high-octane samba-inspired A Linha Curva.
Rambert, A LInha Curva, photo Tristam Kenton
Young Movers aged 10-13 can enjoy five days of contemporary dance technique classes, repertoire workshops, creative sessions, and an end-of-week sharing for family and friends.
Rambert’s offering to older teenagers, Generation 2, is also extremely popular. This year it has been necessary to expand it due to high demand, and both sessions open to 14-18 year olds have now sold out. Hannah has great confidence in the sheer variety of the programme: 'With so much on offer and the opportunity to work directly with members of the company it is an exciting couple of weeks!'
As well as the all important creative and performative elements of Rambert’s repertoire, participants will also be supported in their overall dance development and general fitness with other sessions covering a wide variety of content including yoga, ballet, body conditioning, contact and partner work (content varies with programme and age group).
As Hannah explains, Rambert dancers an animateurs are a versatile bunch: 'our dancers train in styles other than contemporary and this is reflected in our summer programme.'
Rambert Body Conditioning, photo Stephen Wright
The core offerings for teenagers and adults are a week in duration. However if you’re short of time or can’t spare the annual leave, there is also a two-day option for adults where you can learn some repertoire and work on your contemporary technique.
And that’s not all! If, perhaps, your teenagers remain curious about the inner workings of a successful dance company, there is something for them too. For one week, the Southbank-based studios will host the Rambert Experience, an event Julia describes as 'a unique opportunity for participants to discover behind the scenes at Rambert.'
The tours will be guided by staff from different departments of the company, who will explain the role of their work in making and touring dance. The tour culminates with a Q&A with company dancers and a dancer-led creative and repertoire session.
Participants will also explore locations rarely open to the public including the archives and costume store!
There is certainly no end of exciting activities and fun to be had for all ages at Rambert this Summer, so why not get involved?
by Vikki Vile
There are still places available in Rambert's Summer of Dance. Full details here