Ghost Dances then and now

As Press and Marketing Assistant at Rambert, one of my responsibilities is to coordinate social media. I am fortunate, therefore, to be among the first to experience our audiences’ enthusiastic response to daily posts. This reaction is taken to new heights each time there is a mention of Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances. Often within just half an hour, the little red number indicating how many notifications we have received slides into triple digits, such is the unbridled popularity of the work.

I was not around in 1981 when Ghost Dances was first performed, and my memory of seeing Rambert’s last revival in 2003 at the age of 11 is blurry at best. I decided to pay a visit to Rambert’s archive in order to find out more about the history of the work that has become one of the most requested in the company’s 90-year history.

The Rambert Archive is a treasure trove, each artefact and image meticulously labelled and stored. It holds an impressive collection of Ghost Dances memorabilia, including items such as the eerie masks worn by the original ‘ghost dancers’. The highlight for me, however, was the visual record of the original rehearsal process and performances documented in files upon files of photographs. When comparing these to the production images from the current revival, the timelessness of the work is evident, perhaps why Ghost Dances has continued to resonate across different generations.

I’ve shared a few of my favourites below. I hope you enjoy them.

Saskia Rolland-Bezem Press and Marketing Assistant

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