How Twickenham-based Rambert School continued training the future of dance.
Throughout its rich century-long history, London’s prestigious Rambert School has welcomed some of the most talented dancers through its doors. Founded in 1920 by the visionary dancer and choreographer, Dame Marie Rambert, its alumni can be seen performing with some of the world’s top dance companies and includes none other than the founding choreographer of The Royal Ballet, Sir Frederick Ashton.
Last year Rambert School was set to celebrate its centenary; however, due to the unprecedented global pandemic, plans were postponed, and doors shut temporarily while it made the shift to continue training its student body online. Following almost a year of virtual and distanced learning, the School has reopened its doors and welcomed its staff and students back to its building on St Margaret’s Drive, in the heart of Twickenham, where it has been based since the early 1980s.
During lockdown the School has been encouraged by the health and wellbeing of its students and has seen continued improvements in their technique. This is no doubt thanks to the extensive online offer that saw staff deliver daily ballet and contemporary dance classes, improv workshops, classes in Gaga – a movement language developed by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin – and its critical studies lectures and seminars.
“Throughout the pandemic I have been truly inspired by the resilience of our incredible student body,” states Amanda Britton, Principal and Artistic Director of Rambert School and herself a former Rambert dancer. “It is because of them that we have been able to navigate this pandemic and have continued to provide the best possible training under immensely difficult circumstances.”
As the UK’s oldest vocational dance school, Rambert School has faced many challenges in its history, not least emerging from another global pandemic – the Spanish Flu – and the end of the First World War. But throughout its history it has maintained its core values of innovation, creativity and individuality, something reflected in its holistic approach to its dance training.
With its return to in-person training comes the promise of an exciting year. Performances are planned for venues across London, including the School’s splendid Studio Theatre, and its popular range of community dance classes for all ages will recommence as soon as restrictions ease.
For now, though, Rambert School is looking forward. “As we reflect on the last year, we continue to learn more about ourselves, our students and the dance profession,” says Amanda. “I feel privileged leading this incredible organisation as we look to the future and our next 100 years.”
Photos: Nicole Guarino