Directors and Mentors 2016
Robert Cohan – Artistic Director
Robert Cohan was born in New York in 1925, trained at the Martha Graham School and joined the Graham Company in 1946 becoming a soloist and then performing throughout the world as partner to Graham herself. He left in 1957 to begin his career as a choreographer but returned to co-direct the Graham Company with Bertram Ross in 1962 for its European tour. In 1967, at the invitation of Robin Howard, he became the first Artistic Director of the Contemporary DanceTrust in London and, as such, the founding Artistic Director of The Place, London Contemporary Dance School and London Contemporary Dance Theatre, which he directed for the next twenty years. Cohan’s influence on the development of modern dance in Britain is inestimable. He was instrumental in the development of a vast following for the form through his work with LCDT and his pioneering residencies throughout the country, which laid the groundwork for the many later British companies. With LCDT he won the 1975 Evening Standard Award for Outstanding Achievement In Ballet and in 1978 a similar award from the Society of West End Theatre (now the Olivier Awards). He has also been given honorary doctorates from the Universities of Kent, Exeter, Middlesex and Winchester. In 1988 Robert Cohan was awarded a CBE in recognition of his outstanding contribution to dance in the United Kingdom. In 2013, he was awarded the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement at the 2012 National Dance Awards. Robert remains actively involved in the running of The Place as a member of its Board of Governors. He has been a Mentor and choreographer with the Yorke Dance Project for the last 2 years and has recently been appointed a Professor at Middlesex University.
Eleanor Alberga – Artistic Director
Eleanor Alberga enjoys an international reputation as a composer. Born in Jamaica, she decided at the age of five to be a concert pianist, and five years later, also started composing. In 1970 she won the biennial Associated Board Scholarship for piano, which, she took up at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Alberga was among the 3 finalists (1975) in the International Piano Concerto Competition in Dudley, UK.Venues as a soloist include the Royal Albert Hall and South Bank. In 1978 she started work with London Contemporary DanceTheatre with which she toured extensively as pianist, composer, and later as conductor and Musical Director. In 2001 she was awarded a NESTA Fellowship for composition. A past member of the Jamaican Folk Singers, and dancer with an African dance company, she draws from a richly diverse musical background. Alberga’s many commissions encompass orchestral works as well as a wide range of solo and chamber music. Her dramatic adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, for large symphony orchestra, premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in 1994 with Franz Welser Möst and the LPO – The Independent: “rich, colourful, atmospheric and often downright alarming”. Her first opera LETTERS OF A LOVE BETRAYED, commissioned by the Royal Opera House and Music Theatre Wales, premiered in 2009 at the Royal Opera House Linbury theatre. “The musical thread is delicate, finely woven and utterly compelling. Intoxicating …. how often is one moved at first hearing, …….This is a remarkably beautiful work” – Musical Opinion. Alberga’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released by Orchid Classics in 2011. She recently completed a solo piano work for commissioned by theYorke Dance Project and the premiere of her new piece ‘Arise, Athena!’ is the opener for the Last night of the Proms 2015.
Yolande Yorke-Edgell – Director
Yolande began her professional career dancing with Extemporary Dance Theatre. She then went on to dance with Extreme Measures before joining Rambert Dance Company under the direction of Richard Alston and Christopher Bruce. In 1994 she moved to Los Angeles to join the Lewitzky Dance Company where she danced many leading roles and was appointed MasterTeacher by Lewitzky herself. After the closure of the Lewitzky Dance Company in 1997 Yolande formed her own dance company in Los Angeles,Yorke Dance Project, presenting her own choreography alongside fellow Los Angeles based and UK choreographers. She has worked as an Assistant Director for the Los Angeles Opera Children’s Opera and in 2001 she co-directed the play Time Out for the New York Fringe Festival. Whilst in LA, she also choreographed for commercials and music videos. On returning to England she danced in Adam Cooper’s production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and joined Richard Alston Dance Company in the summer of 2006 touring throughout the UK and the US. In 2009 she reformed Yorke Dance Project in the UK. She continues to direct and choreograph for Yorke Dance Project and has been honored to work with, collaborate and be mentored by Robert Cohan since 2013. Yolande is currently an Associate Artist at Middlesex University.
Stephen Pelton – Associate Director
Stephen joined YDP as associate director in 2013. He is also the ar tistic director of Stephen Pelton Dance Theatre, whose work has been performed throughout the US as well as in London, Paris, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Berlin. In San Francisco, the company was nominated three times for the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, including a nomination for best choreography for and a white light in the back of my mind to guide me.The company has created several works in collaboration with playwright Brian Thorstenson including Sugarfoot Stomp and Tuesday- a play for dancers. Stephen’s solo works The Hurdy-gurdy Man and A Hundred Miles have each been presented at Dance Base in Edinburgh during the Fringe. In June 2015, Pelton premiered his new full-length work Lauda Adrianna at the Cottier Chamber Music and Dance Project in Glasgow, with live music performed by the Gavin Bryars Ensemble. Stephen is currently one of Europe’s most sought-after teachers of Limon-inspired dance technique. He teaches at Central School of Ballet, Danceworks and The Place and teaches company class for Random, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Ballet Boyz and DV8.
Kim Brandstrup – Mentor
Kim Brandstrup studied Film at the University of Copenhagen and Choreography with Nina Fonaroff at London School of Contemporary Dance. He founded his own dance company, Arc, in 1985, forging a narrative style that owes more to his early cinematic training than to classical story ballet or to the kineticism of contemporary dance. Throughout his career, and at times at odds with current trends, he has sought a theatre of movement that is both powerful and subtle, creating poignant and suggestive narratives that are always intensely human and emotionally revealing. Since 2005 in freelance commissioned works for a range of international companies including The Royal Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and the Royal Danish Ballet, his narrative approach has found new paths, growing more refined and precise while enjoying a looser, more experimental tone in its storytelling.
Gary Carpenter – Mentor
Gary Carpenter (b.1951) studied composition under John Lambert at the Royal College of Music. He has lived in Holland and Germany and has written operas, musicals, ballets (mostly for Nederlands Dans Theater) and a radio music-drama – The One Alone â€“ with Iris Murdoch as well as film scores, and concert music. Musical director and/or arranger-orchestrator on many stage shows and films (including The Wicker Man – 1973), he won the British Clavichord Society Composition Competition in 2004 for Van Assendelft’s Vermeer and has been short-listed three times for British Composer Awards, winning in 2006 in the chamber category with his harp trio Azaleas â€“ a recent beneficiary of the RPS Encore initiative. A portrait CD – Die Flimmerkiste [Ensemble 10:10/Clark Rundell/Gary Carpenter/Pamela Nash] – is available on NMC. His most recent works include: Fred and Ginger [LSO/Daniel Harding: London – February 2011], Bassoon Concerto (Alan Pendlebury/RLPO/Vasily Petrenko: Liverpool – November 2011), Niederau for 3 flutes [Tempest Flute Trio: Anthony Burgess Centre, Manchester â€“ July 2011], Piano Trio [Fournier Trio: Wigmore Hall, October 2011], One Million Tiny Operas About Britain to texts by Craig Taylor [LorÃ© Lixenberg/Jennifer John/Ensemble 10/10 – Liverpool 2010], Closing Time – for tenor and ensemble to texts by Eva Salzman [Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts/Ensemble 10/10: Liverpool 2008] and Doubles – a concerto for oboe, clarinet and wind orchestra [Melinda Maxwell/Paul Vowles/RNCM Wind Orchestra: Manchester and Cincinnati, Summer 2009], the last three conducted by Clark Rundell. His most recent CD release is Marking Time for basset clarinet and piano on Mark Simpson’s Prism (NMC). Gary is Visiting Professor In Composition at the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester) and a professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music (London). He is published by Cadenza Music.