Nothing says more about Rambert’s need for new premises than a sign taken down from one of the old studios:
“Jumping is not allowed in this studio due to structural weakness”
Now installed in their brand new purpose-built South Bank home for 2 weeks they gave us a chance to look around and see class on Monday. There was much jumping for joy, I’m pleased to say, in the main studio, one of the largest and tallest studios I’ve seen. Indeed all 3 of the new studios are bigger than the largest studio they had in their old Chiswick home – a much less than ideal former furniture warehouse.
The new main studio also allows the dancers to practise with Rambert’s orchestra – something they’ve never ever been able to do before. It’s creative luxury for them but done with an eye for money – while touring the studios can be hired out and one is soundproofed for orchestra recording, as well. Some of the physio facilities are also targeted at external hire. The building itself is also designed to be cheaper to run, size for size, though it operates at 24°C, warmer than most buildings, but best for dancers and a reminder that the whole building is centred on them and the art.
The look of the building I’d describe as contemporary European and sharp – inside a mix of nicely finished concrete, white walls and green resin floors that feel soft to walk on. Fittings like radiators and lockers are all flush mounted – a very clean and business-like look – indeed entering the building it feels rather corporate at first, though softened by the current Artist in Residence installation which uses 2 pictures of Marie Rambert taken decades apart and yet which show the same classical pose.
Downstairs are purpose-built archive facilities – important because Rambert was actually the very first ballet company in the UK. Much material is being digitised over the coming years but scholars will still beat a path to their door to handle material directly and now they can properly accommodate them. But it’s not a building dedicated only to the company – they reach out to the local community with dance classes and there are some glorious facilities for changing in – there was much lust from many of us for the Corian washbasins! But it doesn’t really feel luxurious so much as thoughtful, built to last and easy to maintain.
I could go on but it looks like £20m well spent to me. Not just on dance in London but spent on a company that tours the nation – from Plymouth to Aberdeen, over three-quarters of Rambert’s performances are away from home. Go read the press releases below for the detail and I hope you visit them at home too – now’s the time as they throw open the doors to the building until the 14 December.
Monday 2 December 2013
RAMBERT’S NEW HOME FOR DANCE ON LONDON’S SOUTH BANK
Britain’s national contemporary dance company Rambert has taken up residence in its new, £19.6million home in the heart of London’s South Bank. The state-of-the-art facility includes dance studios, treatment and body conditioning rooms, workshops, offices and an archive. It was designed by award-winning architects Allies and Morrison and built by VINCI Construction UK.
The new building, 12 years in the planning, is located on a site on Upper Ground owned by social enterprise Coin Street Community Builders. This land has been made available to Rambert in return for a commitment to provide a significant community dance programme in the local area, and for a peppercorn rent of one pair of ballet shoes a year. In a challenging economic environment, Rambert has successfully raised £12.6million from private sources, and an additional £7 million of public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, which together have enabled the project to be realised.
Rambert’s new building is a place for making dance
The facility is purpose-built to nurture, develop and realise the creative visions of the best of today and tomorrow’s choreographers and dancers. It is equipped both for them and the huge range of collaborators who are drawn to working in dance: academics, composers, designers, dramaturges, musicians, technologists, visual artists, writers, and more. Its design opens up the creative process, giving visitors and passers-by insight into the work of a world-class dance company. The ambition is that the landmark dances for the next 100 years will be created in the building.
It gives dance a permanent home on London’s South Bank
Rambert will bring dance to the heart of one of the country’s most important cultural hubs. From this base, it will take its work to people throughout the country, with the most far-reaching touring programme of any British contemporary dance company. Over three-quarters of Rambert’s performances take place outside of London, in towns and cities throughout the UK, complemented by equally extensive education and community-based work.
It creates new opportunities for Rambert and its neighbours
Connections with the local neighbourhood will extend to all parts of the community. People of all ages and abilities will be welcomed into the building to join in dance classes, and the daily activity of the building will be opened up to visitors, both in person and online, as will the extensive archive of Britain’s oldest dance company.
It helps sustain the future of Britain’s oldest dance company
The new home will bring Rambert new revenue, with increased capacity for classes and facility hire. It employs green technologies to minimise the Company’s environmental impact. Along with such tangible benefits, the hope is that everyone who comes into the building will be inspired with confidence and ambition for Rambert’s future as Britain’s national contemporary dance company.
Rambert in 2014
During the first year in its new building, Rambert’s home will be a hub for making new works, restaging classic repertory, creative collaborations and community engagement.
- Three new large-scale commissions for the company:
- a new work by artistic director Mark Baldwin, created in collaboration with acclaimed visual artist Katie Paterson, with music including a specially commissioned work by former Rambert music fellow Cheryl Francis-Hoad
- a first creation for Rambert from Shobana Jeyasingh, one of the UK’s foremost independent choreographers
- a new work by Alexander Whitley, a former Rambert dancer recently appointed associate artist with the company.
- Reviving two classic works from Rambert’s past repertoire:
- Christopher Bruce’s iconic dance to the music of the Rolling Stones Rooster , first performed by Rambert in 1994 and last revived in 2001
- Four Elements, a 1990 commission for Rambert by celebrated US choreographer Lucinda Childs, to original music by Gavin Bryars.
- The creation of site-specific works for the building, including projects delivered in collaboration with Rambert’s cross-disciplinary residents and fellows: scientist in residence Professor Nicola Clayton, artist in residence Abigail Reynolds, and music fellow Kate Whitley.
- Increasing the number of young people and adults taking part in Rambert’s open access dance classes and workshops by 40%.
- Establishing an archive service which offers readily available access to the Company’s extensive collection to researchers, students and the public for the first time. With more than 10,000 items in total, the collection holds over 500 costumes, 700 posters, thousands of images, costumes and artefacts, dance notation and over 650 hours of newly digitised footage.
Key dates for 2014
- Thu 6 – Sat 8 February: New Victoria Theatre, Woking
Revival premiere of Christopher Bruce’s Rooster
- Tue 20 – Sat 24 May: Sadler’s Wells, London
Revival premiere of Lucinda Childs’s Four Elements
- Wed 24 – Fri 26 September: Theatre Royal, Plymouth
Premiere of Mark Baldwin’s new work
- Tue 18 – Sat 22 November: Sadler’s Wells, London
Premiere of new Shobana Jeyasingh’s new work
The company’s touring plans for 2014 also include performances in Aberdeen, Brighton, Mold, Oxford, Newcastle, Bromley, Salford, Canterbury, Norwich, Llandudno and Edinburgh.
About Rambert’s new home
- The new building covers 3,650 square metres of floor space. It is the first major, purpose-built dance facility to open in London for 10 years.
- It is located on Upper Ground in the heart of London’s South Bank, next to Waterloo Bridge and facing the National Theatre. Its concrete structure was chosen for its thermal properties and acknowledges the architecture of the South Bank’s other iconic arts buildings.
- The building’s three main studios have been named the Marie Rambert Studio, after the company’s founder; the Mercury Studio, acknowledging the Mercury Theatre, the company’s first home; and the Anya Linden Studio, in recognition of the generous contribution to the fundraising campaign from two of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts: Monument Trust and Linbury Trust.
- The Marie Rambert studio is 306.75 square metres – the equivalent size of the stage at Sadler’s Wells which is the largest theatre space the Company regularly tours to.
- Exposed precast concrete double T beams achieve efficient spanning of the studios without pillars, and allows complex services including mechanical ventilation ductwork to be run into the spaces unobtrusively.
- Rambert is the only UK contemporary dance company to tour with its own orchestra. In the Marie Rambert Studio the orchestra and dancers will be able to rehearse together for the first time, before they reach the venues.
- Other facilities include physiotherapy and body conditioning facilities, and a sauna.
- Rambert’s archive is tanked within the building’s basement, protecting it from ingress from the water table, and has carefully managed climate control to protect the collections. The archive also has a dedicated reading room, the ICAP Room.
- The digitisation of Rambert’s archive footage was made possible thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
- The building features specially commissioned artworks by leading British artists Gary Breeze, Goshka Macuga, Abigail Reynolds and Catherine Yass.
- The total cost of the development is £19.6million. Rambert raised £12.6million towards these costs from private sources, matched by a £7million capital award from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Rambert’s Artistic Director, Mark Baldwin: “I am so excited by the opportunities our new home offers – not just a building fit for purpose that our fabulous dancers can train and work in, but a laboratory ripe for creating new work, for collaboration with world class artists, and for generating new ideas. Every aspect of this building has been designed with the express purpose of laying bare the process of contemporary dance, allowing us to create an open house that will excite and inspire audiences. The time has come for dance to take its place on the South Bank among other prestigious arts organisations, and it seems fitting to me that Rambert, with its unique combination of heritage and pioneering vision, is the company to bring it here.”
Rambert’s Chief Executive, Nadia Stern: “Creating a new home for Rambert has been a huge collaborative effort from everyone involved, and it is testament to 12 years of dedicated work that we are now able to take up residency in this wonderful building. We could not have got here without the generous support and vision of Iain Tuckett at Coin Street Community Builders, the Arts Council England and all of our donors.”
Coin Street Community Builders’ Group Director, Iain Tuckett: “Rambert has been a delight to work with in the planning and development of this building. For me the project has always had two key objectives: to secure for Rambert’s brilliant dancers facilities of a standard that their dedication deserves; and to offer our South Bank and Bankside community the opportunity to engage in one of life’s supreme art forms. This building is a launch pad for contemporary dancers – from humble beginners to those who can melt our souls”.
Arts Council England’s Area Director for London, Joyce Wilson: “This is a really exciting step for Rambert and will help them to realise a whole new stage in their development. The new purpose built space on the South Bank will not only provide them with world-class facilities for the creation of new dance and music, but also create a space that lives and breathes dance. In addition to nurturing talent and fostering creative and pioneering dance concepts, the new base will provide a platform from which Rambert can continue to achieve a national reach; ensuring people across the country have access to high quality dance and artists.”
Allies and Morrison’s Director and Project Architect, Nick Peri: “The best buildings come about through a successful collaboration with an ambitious client like Rambert, and it has been a great privilege to work so closely and effectively together. The design of the building has been highly tuned to meet Rambert’s specific needs, while a simple choice of materials and a clear arrangement of spaces form a backdrop for the astonishing creativity of the Company.”
Hannah Milner, VINCI Construction UK’s Senior Construction Manager, said: “The Rambert building was unlike most projects we have worked on; new build dance studios of this size are few and far between. We’ve had to overcome a number of challenges along the way, particularly the installation of customised T beams and tight working schedules whilst achieving the highest of quality standards, but the result is fantastic and I’m really proud of what the team achieved.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Rambert is Britain’s national contemporary dance company. Under the award-winning artistic direction of Mark Baldwin, the company creates bold, ambitious works and performs for audiences throughout the UK and beyond. It brings together the world’s most exciting choreographers, musicians, designers and others with a world-class ensemble of 22 dancers. Founded by Marie Rambert in 1926, Britain’s oldest dance company is firmly focussed on the new; retaining its founder’s pioneering commitment to new choreography and developing dancers as artists, and seeking new ways to engage people of all ages in watching, creating and performing dance.
COIN STREET COMMUNITY BUILDERS (CSCB)
A development trust and social enterprise which seeks to make the South Bank a better place in which to live, to do business, to study, and to visit. Since 1984 CSCB has transformed a largely derelict site into a thriving mixed-use neighbourhood. It has overseen the completion of the South Bank riverside walkway; the creation of Bernie Spain Gardens and Gabriel’s Wharf; the refurbishment of Oxo Tower Wharf; and the building of 220 homes for people in housing need. CSCB provides a diverse range of arts and events in Bargehouse and gallery@oxo. From the Coin Street neighbourhood centre on Stamford Street, the Coin Street family and children’s centre provides an integrated range of programmes – including a 84-place nursery. CSCB also programmes activities for young people, adults and older people and provides access to training and employment support. In partnership with the Colombo Centre, Coin Street offers high quality affordable health, recreation and leisure facilities including a gym, outdoor sports pitches, dance and fitness sessions. The new headquarters for Rambert is part of a major mixed development on CSCB’s Doon Street site. The development will also include a public swimming and indoor leisure centre, flats for sale, an educational/office building, and a new town square adjacent to Waterloo Bridge.
ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2010 and 2015, we will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk
ALLIES AND MORRISON ARCHITECTS
An architecture and urban planning practice based in London. It operates from its own studios in Southwark Street, the RIBA London Building of the Year 2004 and is currently undertaking work in Germany, the Netherlands, India, Malawi, Beirut, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. In 2009 it opened an office in Doha. Allies and Morrison brings to all its projects the same rigorous approach which places importance on the way buildings work, the way they are made and the public spaces they generate. The practice was named Architect of the Year in the 2007 Building Design Awards and has won 30 RIBA Awards across a range of projects including The Horniman Museum, BBC Media Village, Girton College Library and Archive, the Royal Observatory Greenwich and the Royal Festival Hall.
VINCI CONSTRUCTION UK
A world leader in concessions and construction. The VINCI name symbolises the best in innovation, creativity and technological mastery, befitting for a Group that harnesses a culture of innovation to deliver technical expertise in tackling the most complex of projects. The combination of financial strength, market-leading positions and a commitment to sustainability give VINCI its competitive edge. VINCI companies in the UK turnover in the region of £1.9 billion per annum and employ circa 9000 employees. This is the second largest geographic operating sector outside France and represents 5.6% of VINCI’s €34.4 billion turnover. VINCI employs around 180,000 people in 100 countries around the world. VINCI Construction UK is a national construction and facilities company and is the largest British subsidiary of VINCI. VINCI Construction UK has strong relationships with other VINCI companies and subsidiaries and, as a result, can leverage ideas, skills and entrepreneurial flair to deliver top-quality work in all sectors http://www.vinciconstruction.co.uk/
RAMBERT’S COMMISSIONED ARTWORKS
Artworks curated by Rambert’s art consultant, Judy Adam, in association with Rambert.
Name a Year by Gary Breeze. Letter form. 2013. Commissioned by Rambert.
Gary Breeze is first and foremost a lettercutter of stone and wood. Born in Essex in 1966, Gary studied Graphic Design at Norwich School of Art followed by an apprenticeship with the letter-carver and sculptor David Holgate. In 1992 he worked as assistant to Richard Kindersley before setting up his own workshop in London a year later. Early commissions for public sculpture came through Art in Partnership in Scotland, including the Wisdom frieze for Glasgow High Court of Justiciary completed in 1995. Since then Gary has completed a number of major public works in Scotland including lettering at the New Scottish Parliament, Glasgow Caledonian University, and most recently, an oak seating installation at the State Hospital. Although primarily a designer-craftsman Gary quickly gained a reputation for the innovative content of his work which caught the attention of the broader art world culminating in his first major solo exhibition at the New Art Centre Sculpture Park and Gallery in 2004. He has continued to exhibit widely and was awarded the first Jerwood Contemporary Makers prize in 2008. That same year he won the prestigious Leverhulme Trust award for a twelve month artist residency at the University of Southampton’s department of Archaeology. Other public commissions include the fountain at Christ Church Oxford and work at Westminster Abbey, Chatsworth Gardens and The Victoria and Albert Museum.
Rambert lightwell commission by Goshka Macuga. 2014. Commissioned by Rambert.
Goshka Macuga (born in 1967) is an interdisciplinary artist working across a variety of media, including sculpture, installation, photography, architecture and design. She fuses various sources together into one cohesive, meaningful narrative. The Polish-born artist now lives and works in London, having completed her studies at the Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Goldsmiths College. In 2008 she was nominated for the Turner Prize. She has exhibited widely across Europe and America including dOCUMENTA (13) and solo shows at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2011), Kunsthalle Basel (2009), and Tate Britain, London (2007).
Mim 1910/1976 by Abigail Reynolds. 2013. Photographic installation. Commissioned by Rambert.
Abigail Reynolds lives in St Just in Penwith, Cornwall and London. She took a BA in English Literature at St Catherine’s College, Oxford University (1993) before an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London. Abigail has been artist in residence at the Serpentine Gallery (2005-6) and The Oxford English Dictionary (2003-4). Recent solo shows include Ein Zeit-Punkt at Raum Mit Licht, Vienna and First Light, Plymouth. Group shows include Rituals are Tellers of Us, Newlyn Art Gallery, Topophobia (touring Danielle Arnaud London, Bluecoat Liverpool, Spacex Exeter), Helsinki Photography Biennia. and Dear Aby Warburg, what to do with images?, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Siegen, Germany. Since January 2011 Abigail has been a Tate St Ives advisory board member, specifically tasked to consider creative communities and residencies. She taught on the BA Fine Art course at Oxford University (The Ruskin School) from 2005-2011, and is now a visiting tutor at the Royal College of Art, Goldsmiths MA and other UK Fine Art courses. Her work is included in the Government Art Collection, Yale University Art Gallery and New York Public Library as well as many private collections. She is represented by Ambach & Rice in Los Angeles and Raum Mit Licht in Vienna. Abigail is Rambert’s first Artist in Residence.
Rambert (Movement VI). 2013. Photographic transparency, lightbox. Commissioned by Rambert.
Catherine Yass trained at the Slade School of Art, London; the Hochschüle der Künst, Berlin; and Goldsmiths College, London. In 2002, Yass was shortlisted for The Turner Prize. Important solo exhibitions include Lighthouse at Alison Jacques Gallery, London (2012); a mid-career retrospective at De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea (2011); The China Series, Stedelijk-Hertogenbosch Museum, The Netherlands (2009); Descent, St Louis Art Museum, St Louis, MO (2009). Recent group shows include Desire Lines, Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2012); Government Art Collection: Commissions: Now and Then, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2012); The World in London, Photographer’s Gallery, London (2012); Skyscraper: Art and Architecture Against Gravity, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2012); and High Wire, Tate Britain, London (2012). Her work features in a number of major important collections worldwide including Tate, London; Arts Council of England, The British Council and the Government Art Collection, London; The Jewish Museum, New York; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; and the National Museum of Women in the Arts Collection, Washington DC. The artist lives and works in London.