Ipswich dancer Hannah Rudd returns to the region with Rambert
- Credit: Ellie Kurttz
From Co-Op Juniors productions and Linda Shipton’s School of Dancing to the Royal Ballet the professional dancer has come a long way. Now she is back with the latest tour by Rambert Dance Company.
Hannah Rudd was born and grew up in Ipswich. Her love of dancing as a young girl saw her appearing in the Co-Op Juniors productions and joining Linda Shipton’s School of Dancing, before she left home 11 to study with the Royal Ballet.
A diverse range of dance experiences eventually led to her joining Rambert, Britain’s oldest dance company known for its creation of new dance works and working with some of the world’s most exciting choreographers, composers and designers.
This week she is back in East Anglia as Rambert bring a triple-bill that features a revival of its most famous work, Christopher Bruce’s masterpiece Ghost Dances, a new creation by Aletta Collins The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses, a title taken from a poem by Charles Bukowski; and Symbiosis, a new piece made with acclaimed Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis.
Did you always want to be a dancer?
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My mum sent my sister and I to take dance and ballet classes. My sister didn’t really enjoy it so she stopped when she was maybe seven or eight. She was very talented at playing the violin so she carried on doing that. But I carried on. I don’t really have memories of really loving it, but I must have because I wanted to do it all the time. My family weren’t pushy in any sense.
When you were growing up in Ipswich were you in local youth productions?
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I had worked with Co-Op Juniors since I was very little and they did productions every Christmas, which I think they do even more so now. At the time I was doing it they were just at the Regent in Ipswich. That is what I did first then I went to Linda Shipton’s School of Dancing and trained with her. She was the one that put more forward to audition for the Royal Ballet.
What was it like leaving home to go to the Royal Ballet school?
I went when I was 11 and it was boarding. I think when you’re younger it was a bit easier, but when I got older that was when I started to miss home a little more. It was hard work but I enjoyed that. We did everything as you’d expect, we did 10 GCSEs and A Levels, and I think because the classes were small, only 20 to 30 dancers per year, we got more time than a normal high school and the teachers were great.
You didn’t join the Royal Ballet though…
We would dance with the Royal Ballet when we were studying and when they needed young people, but actually my first job when I was 18 was for a ballet company in Ireland and then it continued with lots of different things. I was freelancing for a while, I went to the Michael Clark Company, I worked with Scottish Ballet for a while, and I went to work in Spain for a while with a small dance company set up by Angel Corella, who is now artistic director of Pennsylvania Ballet.
How did you come to join Rambert?
My first experience with Rambert was in 2010 when I did four months with them when they needed someone for maternity leave. Even when I was at school I had wanted to work for them. It was always a dream. In my early years I don’t think I really thought I could. It takes a lot to really believe in myself no matter how talented you are. But after I’d taken rehearsals, I got a phone call inviting me to come. I actually turned down a job, but it was worth it. And when one became available, I got a full contract. I’ve been here six years now.
Rambert’s latest visit to the region includes a programme that features Ghost Dances, The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses and Symbiosis. What can you tell us about them?
They are three very different pieces and it will be a great programme I think. As a dancer it is always very interesting when you get to see a programme because you are thinking of the physicality of switching between the pieces. Ghost Dances is always on last and that is a tough piece, both physically and emotionally. The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses is not as challenging, but you still have to think about it physically. You want to give 100% of everything to each piece.
Symbiosis has been developed by the company and internationally acclaimed dance-maker Andonis Foniadakis. Is it rewarding to be involved in a piece’s creation?
At Rambert we are very used to creating new work and what was lovely with Andonis was that he came in and created all the material himself. It is all his style and it is a really challenging style as well. It shows the dancers in the company off in a different light. It is quite abstract but he has a very cinematic view and he has a vision. He likes to keep things moving and for there to always be a wash or movement and motion, which is very evident in the piece. A lot of it is very fast but with such a flow to it.
Is it a demanding piece to dance?
It is a challenging piece because of how fast it is and how many steps there are wishing each section. Often as a dancer when you’re told to go quickly you tense up, but actually you need to do the opposite. But there are so many steps to get in this piece, we haven’t got the flow yet, but I’m sure it will come.
Ghost Dances is an iconic piece for Rambert. Wwhat was it like to be involved in? Is it exciting to be part of a piece that is so well known?
It is definitely part of Rambert’s history and to be involved in something so historic is always exciting. It is also regarding to be able to see that it is a piece that is still relevant to now. That is because of the way it has been taught by Christopher Bruce and the people who look after the work and because of how much they believe in the work that they do. The great thing about Christopher is that he gives you the inspiration, the background and narrative, but he also wants you to be who you are. He values you as a dancer and what you can bring, but he tells you if things are wrong. The music is incredible and it has such an atmosphere about it.
What is it like being on tour with your fellow dancers?
It is great. It is what we do all this rehearsal for to perform the works live in front of an audience. It’s an interesting dynamic sometimes because we are all living in each others pockets when we are on tour, but there is great camaraderie between the dancers. It is like brothers and sisters, sometime you rub each other up the wrong way, but when we are united on stage it is a really beautiful thing to be a part of.
Do you enjoy when a tour brings you back to East Anglia?
Very much so. My mum and sister still live in Ipswich, so whenever I’m there they come and see the performance if they are able to. My sister has two children, so she is not always able to. I always go home for the weekend afterwards as well.
Has your success inspired your niece and nephew to want to become dancers?
No [laughs]. They hear how hard it is. Jacob is into football and Matilda is just into everything. She is very creative and is into horse riding.
• Rambert Dance is at Norwich Theatre Royal from October 19-20, 7.30pm, £25-£8, 01603 630000, theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk