A prank birthday present of ballet lessons led Scott Ambler into a career in which he forged a memorable partnership with choreographer Matthew Bourne in the companies Adventures in Motion Pictures and New Adventures.
The latter company’s all-male Swan Lake, a collaboration between Bourne, fellow dancer Etta Murfitt and designer Lez Brotherston, defined British dance in the 1990s. Ambler created the role of the Prince in the show, a tabloid-attracting sensation in 1995.
Tall, lithe and lyrical, Ambler imbued his characters with nuances that broke through athletic strength and agility in often surprising, always revealing ways, his gift for pathos as finely tuned as his considerable comic abilities.
Amber had first worked with Bourne in Town and Country (Royal Court Theatre, London, 1992) and appeared in most of his shows over the next decade, including Cinderella (Piccadilly Theatre, 1997), The Car Man (Old Vic, London, 2000), Nutcracker! (Sadler’s Wells, 2002) and Play Without Words, Bourne’s take on Joseph Losey’s film The Servant (National Theatre, 2002).
The pair reunited for Lord of the Flies in 2011, which featured companies of young dancers in 13 British cities and for which Ambler was nominated for a UK Theatre award as co-deviser, director and choreographer.
As a choreographer, Ambler was responsible for the 2011 touring revival of The Phantom of the Opera, and the following year received an Olivier nomination for Chariots of Fire at the Hampstead Theatre.
Collaborations with Rupert Goold included Lucy Prebble’s Enron (Royal Court, 2009), the multi-authored Decade (St Katharine Docks, London, 2011) and The Merchant of Venice (Almeida Theatre, 2014). For the Royal Shakespeare Company, he choreographed Tom Morton-Smith’s Oppenheimer, which transferred from Stratford to the Vaudeville Theatre in 2015.
More recently he provided movement to two plays in the Almeida’s 2015 Greek season (adaptations by Anne Carson and Rachel Cusk of Euripides’ Bakkhai and Medea) and for James Graham’s political drama This House, which transferred from Chichester to the Garrick Theatre in 2016 before touring the UK.
Timothy Scott Ambler was born on October 9, 1960, and died on March 17, aged 57.