Kim Brandstrup celebrates his 60th birthday
Award-winning international dance-maker of intensely human and emotionally revealing ballets
London-based Danish choreographer Kim Brandstrup celebrates his 60th birthday on Monday January 9, 2017.
Born in Aarhus, Denmark, in 1957, Kim Brandstrup has created a remarkable body of work in both contemporary dance and ballet over a period of some 35 years. Throughout his career he has forged a theatre of movement that is both powerful and subtle, creating poignant and suggestive narratives that are always intensely human and emotionally revealing.
Following a course in Film Studies at the University of Copenhagen, he came to London in the early 1980s to study dance and choreography at the influential London School of Contemporary Dance, forming his own company, Arc, in 1985. Since 2005 he has worked as a freelance choreographer making work for, amongst others, The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Rambert, the Royal Swedish Ballet and London Contemporary Dance Theatre.
Highlights of Kim Brandstrup’s early career include Orfeo for London Contemporary Dance Theatre (1989); Othello (1994 – with a powerful central role for Irek Mukhemedov) and the Hans Christian Andersen ballet Anatomy of a Storyteller (2004), both created for his own Arc Dance Company.
In recent years Brandstrup’s narrative approach has found new paths, growing more refined and precise while enjoying a looser, more experimental tone in its storytelling. Followers of his work will remember particularly his subtly allusive full-length work Goldberg (2009) – commissioned by The Royal Ballet and created expressly for Tamara Rojo – and the intensely lyrical Invitus Invitam (2011), another Royal Ballet commission, this time for Leanne Benjamin and Edward Watson.
2016 has been a particularly fruitful year for Kim Brandstrup with admired new ballets for Rambert (Transfigured Night), New York City Ballet (Jeux) and Rystet Spejl (Shaken Mirror), his multi-layered work for the Royal Danish Ballet which challenged its dancers, enriched the company’s repertoire and played to full houses in Copenhagen earlier this year.
Brandstrup’s continues to draw upon his cinematic training, not only in his stage ballets, but also, more recently, as a film-maker in his beguiling short dance/film Leda and the Swan (2014) for Zenaida Yanowsky and Tommy Franzen, and narrated by Fiona Shaw. Further film projects are currently in development.
He also works extensively in opera and cross-media ventures where he collaborates with leading international names – notably Deborah Warner, Pierre Audi, Fiona Shaw and the Brothers Quay.
Kim Brandstrup is the recipient of two Olivier Awards (for Orfeo and Goldberg) and his work has also been recognised with a string of other awards and nominations.
Kim Brandstrup in 2016/17
In 2016 Kim Brandstrup received a major award from the Copenhagen-based Wilhelm Hansen Foundation. The prestigious Honorary Prize, worth 200,000Kr, recognised Brandstrup’s impact on the Danish dance world as one first Danes to study modern dance abroad, as well as his choreographic achievement over more than three decades.
There was news, too, that Transfigured Night has been nominated in the Best Modern Choreography category of the 2016 National Dance Awards, announced on February 6, 2017.
Transfigured Night continues as a popular feature of the current Rambert repertoire, touring to theatres in Glasgow, Inverness, Oxford and Truro in February and March and Jeux will return to the repertoire of New York City Ballet in May 2017.
Brandstrup has several other major choreographic and dance/film ventures in development for 2017/18, to be announced in the near future.
Further projects in 2017 include movement direction for the first ever production of Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd at Madrid’s Teatro Real (February/March 2017). The opera, part of the theatre’s 200th anniversary celebrations, is directed by Deborah Warner, with whom he continues his creative collaboration for the revival of their admired ENO/Metropolitan Opera production of Tchaikovky’s Eugene Onegin, starring Anna Netrebko, at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York (March/April 2017 and on cinema screens worldwide on April 22).
Brandstrup will also venture into live theatre in 2017 when he collaborates with Leo Warner of 69 Productions and playwright Duncan Macmillan to bring Paul Auster’s landmark novel, City of Glass, to life in what is slated to be a dazzlingly original stage adaptation (Home, Manchester – March 2017; Lyric Hammersmith – April/May 2017).