News: Glen Tetley 1926 - 2007

Wednesday 31 January 2007

The American choreographer Glen Tetley died last week at the age of 80.

He trained in dance comparatively late in life, he had already started a chemistry degree. He worked with Martha Graham – before joining American Ballet Theatre – and in working in both contemporary and ballet, brought the two forms closer together.

His first work, Pierrot Lunaire (1962) was created as a solo for himself – but over the years has become a regular in the repertoire of both Rambert Dance and the Royal Ballet. It was staged last season at the Royal Opera House as part of his 80th birthday celebrations. Monica Mason, Royal Ballet Director said yesterday, ‘We in The Royal Ballet feel a great sadness at the news of the death of Glen Tetley. His relationship with the Company goes back to the 70’s when Kenneth MacMillan invited him to London to create a work. The resulting Field Figures was a wonderfully challenging and innovative piece, exhausting to dance and typical of the demands Glen always made of his dancers. He also created Laborintus for the Company and later, his Voluntaries and La Ronde entered the Royal Ballet’s repertoire. His death is an enormous loss to dance worldwide.’

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‘England particularly welcomed Tetley’s style, finding him the most approachable of the American modernists. Mounting Pierrot Lunaire for Ballet Rambert in the late 1960s was the contemporary shot in the arm that the company needed and was followed by two further successes: a Stockhausen work, Ziggurat, and the T’ai-chi-inspired Embrace Tiger and Return to Mountain, which, like Pierrot Lunaire, emphasised a timely new prominence for modern design and electronic music.’ Read more in the Telegraph, 30 Jan 07

The young Christopher Bruce (ex-Rambert Artistic Director) was one of the first dancers to dance the role of Pierrot.

“We worked with Glen for about six weeks – our first exposure to real American contemporary choreography. Seeing the way he moved was a revelation. He’d demonstrate what he wanted but he was also very articulate.” Guardian, 30 Jan 07

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