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Biography of Christopher Bruce

Christopher Bruce was born on the 3rd of October 1945 in England, he started studying dancing at 11 years old, and he began with tap and ballet.

After studying at the Rambert School Christopher Bruce joined Rambert Ballet in 1963, where he quickly became the leading male dancer. Bruce appeared in works such as Don Quixote in 1964 and Coppelia in 1966. Then the company began to experiment with ballet and modern, combining them to form, specifically the Martha Graham technique. (Martha Graham created 181 ballets and a dance technique that has been compared to ballet in its scope and magnitude. Many of the great modern and ballet choreographers have studied the Martha Graham Technique or have been members of her company.) When Bruce danced the role of Pierrot Lunaire, his own interpretive skills were noticed. Bruce was "dominating everything- practically living the part". Bruce then worked with Glen Tetley, he discovered that "the motive for the movement comes from the centre of the body... from this base we use classical ballet as an extension to give wider range and variety of movement" In 1977 he was appointed associate director of the company and was its associate choreographer from 1979-87, he created over twenty works for the company. Between 1986-91 he acted as associate choreographer also for London Festival Ballet, later ENB, and resident choreographer for Houston Ballet in 1989. In 1994 he became artistic director for RDC. Often political in his work, he integrates classical ballet and modern dance, often set against popular music by artists like Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones. His productions include 'Cruel Garden', 1977, 'Ghost Dances', 1981, 'Swansong', 1987, and 'Rooster', 1991.

Influences

Social and political themes emerge as naturally as a reflection of his own concerns, although his aim is always firstly to create a piece of dance, rather than to make a statement. Nevertheless, he does not see a conflict between creating interesting movement and tackling difficult issues. He believes that there is much beauty in Ghost Dances and similar works.

Bruce is typically known for using themes that focus on personal or political issues. He has created abstract pieces but even these have a strong undercurrent of emotion. Bruce uses a wide range of starting points, particularly poetry, literature, music, newspaper articles and world events. For example '...for those who die in cattle' reflects his views and concerns of war, 'rooster' is his idea of relationships, 'swansong' is probably one of his most moving and emotional pieces and tackles the very serious issue of torture. His views on the general human condition are portrayed in 'waiting'.

Throughout his career, Christopher has been a strong supporter of Amnesty International's ideas and through his choreography he has voiced his concerns for society, the persecuted and victims of a wide range of human rights abuses. Time and again he has returned to these themes and in his most recent work "grinning in your face", these concerns are articulated as powerfully as ever. The Arts have an important role to play in exploring social issues and dance can be seen as the most human of the Arts as it is based on the body. The image of the tortured prisoner from "swansong" or the unjust imprisonment of Reuben Carter, in "Hurricane" are far more powerful than mere words can ever be. Video extracts of Christopher's work have been used to reinforce talks about human rights abuse.

In the 1970's the focus for Bruce was South America and Pinochet's bloody coup against the elected Allende government in Chile. He was deeply moved on the meeting of Joan Jara, who was tortured and murdered by Pinochets forces. This meeting lead him to choreograph, Ghost Dances. He took the theme of the day of the dead, simple symbolism and indigenous dance movements as a basis to convey the plight of the innocent people of South American down the ages and...
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