News: Einstein in dance

Wednesday 12 January 2005

Mark Baldwin’s first choreographic work as Artistic Director of Rambert has been commissioned by The Institute of Physics, to mark Einstein Year in 2005. Constant Speed will be premiered at Sadler’s Wells in May. There will also be the chance to see extracts of it performed on the London Underground’s Jubilee line.

The title refers to the speed of light – the only thing that is constant in the universe. In 1905, at the age of 26, Albert Einstein published three seminal research papers, which changed scientific thinking about the universe forever. As a source of inspiration for Constant Speed, Mark Baldwin has focused on two of these papers – the theory of Special Relativity (E=mc²) and Einstein’s investigations of Brownian Motion. He said that after two years as Artistic Director and a significant break from choreographing he was “bursting to do this work! I am very excited about the material I have created so far, and our dancers have been incredibly receptive. Ray Rivers, Professor of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College, has provided me with valuable technical guidance in this process. It is a privilege and a pleasure to be working with the Institute of Physics on this significant project and I believe it is a wonderful opportunity to combine two very diverse subjects and enhance learning possibilities.”

Jerry Cowhig, Managing Director of the Institute of Physics publishing company, who commissioned the work said “we are very excited about this collaboration. Dance is an expressive medium and it will be ideal for abstract concepts like the theories of Einstein on everything from tiny atoms to the dynamics of the whole cosmos. I love the work of Rambert which is always innovative and thrilling and I am confident this new work will trigger many people’s curiosity about physics in Einstein Year”.

Constant Speed will be a full-Company work, employing all of Rambert’s dancers. The work will be performed to the luxuriant music of Franz Lehar, and the six works chosen to accompany the movement were also composed around 1905, creating a timely relevance to the context of the work. The pieces selected are some of Lehar’s less well-known work; Il Guado (symphonic poem for piano and orchestra), three movements from Peter und Paul im Schlaraffenland, Preludium Religiouso and Gold and Silver Waltz. Paul Hoskins, Music Director of Rambert, commented: “When Mark Baldwin and I were looking for music for Constant Speed, we were very keen to find something that had some relevance to the Einstein stimulus, and so we decided to look at what was around in Vienna at the beginning of the 20th Century. Lehar is only really well known for his operetta The Merry Widow, and a few waltzes; but he wrote some wonderfully appealing, highly coloured music for the concert hall and the theatre. We have chosen from this unknown repertoire some great pieces to match the glitter, sparkle and energy of the new ballet. Ben Pope, whose arrangements of Cole Porter for Elsa Canasta were so widely praised, will arrange the music for chamber orchestra.”

The Institute of Physics and Rambert Dance Company have received an investment from Arts & Business New Partners to further develop their creative partnership. Arts & Business New Partners is funded by the Arts Council of England and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Susan Wyatt, Rambert’s Executive Director commented: “The sponsorship from the Institute of Physics Publishing is both unique and visionary. The matching funding from Arts and Business New Partners will enhance the sponsorship by enabling more people to see and understand the work. This funding will also mean that Institute of Physic staff are educated about the nature of this collaboration between art and science”.

Constant Speed photo by Anthony Crickmay

Links

“They can actually be expressed quite well in dance. So we’ve got lots of molecules bouncing around, and the stage – which starts out all in white – ends with all the colours of the spectrum, as the little packets of light that Einstein discovered are added one at a time.”
Mark Baldwin in the Telegraph, 10 Jan

Ataxia, Wayne McGregor’s work for Random Dance in 2004 was also a meeting point for science and dance. McGregor was awarded a research fellowship by the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) and the Arts Council, hosted by Cambridge University’s Department of Experimental Psychology. Read more

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