Rambert has opened its new £19 million building on the South Bank in London today after 12 years of planning.
Claiming it to be the first major purpose-built dance venue to open in London for a decade, the touring dance company’s new six-storey base includes three main rehearsal studios, an archive, and physiotherapy facilities.
The organisation will use one studio, which features seating for 50 people and is soundproofed to a standard for professional music recordings, to showcase its classes to the public and rehearse with its orchestra.
It will use another studio with more robust flooring for hiring out to other dance and theatre companies. There will also be a private physiotherapy practice being run out of the building and the company will increase the number of public dance classes it runs. The new building will not host professional shows.
As part of its plans for 2014, Rambert’s artistic director Mark Baldwin will create a new work, as will choreographer Alexander Whitley. He has recently been appointed an associate artist at the company.
Located behind the National Theatre on the site of an old car park, the new home also features an archive of items from the company’s history, which will be available to the public for the first time. More than 500 costumes, 700 posters and digitised footage since the organisation’s inception in 1926 are included.
Costing £19.6 million in total, the building was given £7 million of Lottery capital funding from Arts Council England, while Rambert raised the remaining £12.6 million through private donors.
Rambert has the leasehold on the site, which is owned by social enterprise Coin Street Community Builders. The dance company will provide a local community dance programme in exchange for a peppercorn rent of one pair of ballet shoes per year.
The company has spent the past 42 years based in Chiswick in west London. Its old building has been sold to independent cinema group Picturehouse Cinemas.
Rambert’s artistic director Mark Baldwin said: “Every aspect of this building has been designed with the express purpose of laying bare the process of contemporary dance, allowing us to create an open house that will excite and inspire audiences.”
He added: “The time has come for dance to take its place on the South Bank among other prestigious arts organisations, and it seems fitting to me that Rambert, with its unique combination of heritage and pioneering vision, is the company to bring it here.”