Rambert to create first full-length narrative work in over 30 years

27 Sep 2017

Rambert dancer Liam Francis in ‘Life is a Dream’. Image ©Nicola Selby

choreography Kim Brandstrup | music Witold Lutosławski | design Quay Brothers

premiere: 23 May 2018, Sadler’s Wells, London

  • Internationally-renowned choreographer Kim Brandstrup to create a new dance work for Rambert based on the play by Pedro Calderón de la Barca
  • The first full-length narrative work created for Rambert since Glen Tetley’s The Tempest in 1979
  • The first time dance has been set to music by major 20th century composer Witold Lutosławski

Rambert will create a two-act, modern reimagining of the 17th century play Life is a Dream by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, choreographed by two-time Olivier Award-winner Kim Brandstrup and premiering at Sadler’s Wells in May 2018, touring the UK and internationally to 2019.

Rambert is well-known for touring mixed programmes of shorter works, yet this new production follows the company’s commitment to taking world-class dance to the widest possible audience. This commission for Kim Brandstrup follows the success of his last piece for Rambert, Transfigured Night, which won the 2016 Critic’s Circle National Dance Award for Best Modern Choreography.

Life is a Dream is choreographed on Rambert’s dancers with projections by legendary filmmakers and stop-motion pioneers the Quay Brothers, who will transform the space into a dreamlike world where illusion and reality collide. A symphony orchestra adds to the other-worldly atmosphere with the rich, harmonious music of Witold Lutosławski for this tale of revenge and reconciliation.

Life is a Dream tells the story of Prince Sigismundo, who has been unjustly incarcerated from childhood. He is given two chances at freedom: on the first he is overwhelmed by all the things he has missed during his years in prison and embarks on an angry rampage of excess and violence, is re-captured and upon awakening in his cell believes it was all a dream. With his second chance he approaches the world with renewed caution and wonder, as if it is a beautiful dream that could evaporate at any moment.

Rambert Artistic Director, Mark Baldwin OBE, comments:

“Kim is a gifted storyteller and his beautiful piece, Transfigured Night, is moving audiences as we continue to tour it around the country. When he suggested this idea for a full-length narrative production, I knew instinctively it was a perfect fit for Rambert with our unique, outstanding dancers. There is huge scope for powerful storytelling in contemporary dance, combining plot and character with great choreography, and it is something I’m eager for the company to take to a deeper level. Kim’s language of contemporary dance combines great emotional breadth with dynamic physicality, and I’m excited to see how this unfolds in Life is a Dream.”

Kim Brandstrup adds: “Calderón’s play has for a long time been a personal dream of mine. Though written nearly 400 years ago, it is remarkably contemporary, and resonates strongly in a world where the lines between reality and fantasy are increasingly blurred. Re-thinking the play to create a full-length narrative dance piece for contemporary dancers in a modern context will, I hope, make its profound insight resonate with a new audience. Rambert is the perfect company to take on the scope and ambition of this idea, and I am both excited and honoured to be able to create this piece with them.”

Rambert Chief Executive/Executive Producer Helen Shute, says:

“The ambition of this production is hugely exciting, and I’m delighted that Rambert is working in partnership with Bergen International Festival to deliver this landmark collaboration, for audiences across the UK and around the world.”

Life is A Dream is commissioned by Bergen International Festival and is supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute / Polska Music, Cockayne Grants for the Arts – a donor-advised fund of The London Community Foundation, and Arts Council England.