Dance preview: Rambert
Ghost Dances returns to the stage 13 years after it was last seen
It may be the oldest dance company in Britain, but nobody could accuse Rambert of being stuck in the past. Moving forward, re-inventing itself and bringing in fresh talent has always been its modus operandi. Yet underpinning all that new creativity is a tradition and heritage everyone associated with the company is fiercely proud of – no one more so than Christopher Bruce.
At the age of 71, Bruce has been connected with Rambert in one way or another for 57 years, from training at the school to dancing in the company to choreographing and serving as artistic director. But of all the wonderful pieces Bruce has created over the years, none has captured the public's imagination quite so much as Ghost Dances.
Choreographed in 1981, as Bruce's reflection on the appalling treatment of ordinary people during the 1973 Chilean coup, the work also references Mexico's Day of the Dead festival. Set to haunting South American music, the piece returns to the stage 13 years after it was last seen, as part of Rambert's current UK tour.
Dance fans are unanimous in their praise for Ghost Dances, but to what does Bruce himself attribute its enduring appeal? 'If I knew that, I'd make it happen every time,' he laughs. 'When you make a piece, you're using a combination of your instinct, imagination and craft – but a lot of research always goes into anything I make. With Ghost Dances the inspiration was Joan Jara and her book An Unfinished Song, about the torture and murder of her husband Victor during the coup, that was the germ of this piece.'
Chilean singer and director, Victor Jara's tragic death was in 1973, but as Bruce says, Ghost Dances retains its resonance: 'Even though I set the piece in the Andes, any number of countries have been subjugated by political oppression. And it could be just as relevant today to the situation in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, the theme is universal – it's about the innocent people who are caught up in it.'
Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Wed 23–Fri 25 Nov; then touring.