Published: 00:00, 07 October 2014
He was born in Fiji and grew up in New Zealand where he learnt the haka at school, yet Mark Baldwin was destined for greatness with Britain’s world-renowned dance company, Rambert. Jo Roberts reports.
Costumes glittering with 60,000 Swarovski crystals will ensure that performances by the Britain’s leading contemporary dance company dazzle even more than usual.
Dance enthusiasts have been eagerly awaiting this week’s Kent performances of Rooster
by Rambert, one of the company’s best-loved works which brings
the rock‘n’roll swagger of the Rolling Stones thrillingly to life.
Choreographed by Rambert’s former artistic director Christopher Bruce, it is an electrifying celebration of the swinging sixties in which sharp-suited, snake-hipped men and strong, sassy women perform to some of the Stones’ biggest hits, including Not Fade Away, Paint It Black, Sympathy For The Devil and Little Red Rooster.
But Rambert’s run at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre will also feature a brand new dance piece called The Strange Charm of Mother Nature, choreographed by its current artistic director of 12 years, Mark Baldwin.
Born in Fiji, Mark’s passion for dance was instilled by his Fijian mother, who would take him to see the ballet as a small boy growing up in New Zealand. The lure of dance was only intensified by the mysterious tribal hakas that were common spectacles in his youth.
“At school we had to learn the haka, it was really part of the culture,” remembers Mark.
It was as a teenager that his own formal dance training became serious.
Whilst studying for a degree in fine art, Mark recounts that he actually spent much of his time over the road at a dance school immersing himself in his first love.
Blessed with ‘versatility, agility and good genes’, Mark’s ensuing career not only as a dancer but as a choreographer has reached astronomical heights.
Among the many accolades, Mark won the TMA Theatre Award for Achievement in Dance for the high calibre of his artistic directorship of Rambert, and in 2010, the company won the Olivier Award
for Outstanding Achievement in Dance.
The Swarovski crystals featured in the costumes for his new piece, The Strange Charm of Mother Nature - inspired by space, physics and the beginnings of the universe, - will ensure ‘a bling fest’, he says.
“How did Mother Nature initiate the big bang? Speed, velocity, gamma rays, the biggest and most colourful explosions in the universe... I’ve used all these ideas to make something poetic and beautiful. It’s very energetic and very musical,” adds Mark, alluding to the accompanying music of composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad. The Rambert shows will also feature Sounddance by legendary dance-maker Merce Cunningham, and short solo Dutiful Ducks by another former artistic director of Rambert, Richard Alston.
But it is Rooster that will form the night’s centrepeice.
What is Mark’s take on why it
was specifically the music of the Rolling Stones that inspired Christopher Bruce’s iconic choreography?
“They are the archetypes, the statesmen of rock ‘n’ roll and the ultimate boy band,” says Mark, 60.
“I was brought up listening to the Stones and I’m full of nostalgia.”
Rambert perform Rooster, The Strange Charm of Mother Nature, Sounddance and Dutiful Ducks at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre until Friday, October 10 at 7.30pm. Tickets cost from £9.50. Visit www.marlowetheatre.com or call 01227 787787.
More by this authorJo Roberts