News

Rambert Wants to Codify Contemporary Training—With Help From Major Choreographers

Rambert artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer had input on the new Rambert Grades curriculum. Photo by Camilla Greenwell, Courtesy Rambert

British dance company and school Rambert has launched a new contemporary-dance training syllabus. Rambert Grades is intended to set a benchmark in contemporary-dance training, focused on three strands: performance, technique and creativity. Moving beyond the Graham and Cunningham techniques that form the basis of most modern-dance training in the UK, it includes contributions from current high-profile choreographers Hofesh Shechter, Alesandra Seutin and Rambert artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer.


Grades 1–8, suitable for dancers ages 7 and up, will offer a grounding in contemporary-dance technique, but also nurture skills that underpin all dance styles: "to use the floor, to cover space, to understand your body, physical confidence, working as a group," says Rambert School principal and artistic director Amanda Britton. "There's also a creative strand, which is about learning improvisation from an early age, which is so important these days." The framework intends to be inclusive and accessible to all, and to encourage dancers to develop their own styles by drawing on their bodies' natural movement.

Britton developed the syllabus in response to gaps she saw in UK dance training, and the decline of contemporary-dance education in schools in favor of STEM subjects. "I wanted to spread that joy of contemporary dance and allow more people to access that early training," she says.

"It's a way of introducing young dancers to the skills and systems that we're using now," Shechter says, pointing to the genuinely contemporary nature of the syllabus. "It's an attempt to give them something from the world today."

Although UK-based, the Grades can also be taught internationally, with teachers in Cyprus, Malta and Australia currently taking part in the pilot program. The first round of teacher training, which may include a combination of in-person and online sessions depending on safety regulations, begins in October; applications are being accepted on a rolling basis for future trainings, dates to be determined.

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Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

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If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

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