Passport: Christopher Bruce

The Rambert Dance Company's artistic director recalls the pleasures and perils of dancing abroad
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The Independent Travel
Often, after a demanding performance, dancers find incredible reserves of energy, and want to go out and party. So it was that after a performance in Dortmund, we went to a nearby nightclub. Soon after we arrived, the police burst in brandishing guns. I didn't understand what was going on, so I reached for my coat to get my identification and they leapt on me and put a gun to my head.

I underwent about 10 minutes of bizarre interrogation until they let me go. I eventually learnt that there was a gunman in the area, fitting my description. The taxi driver who had dropped me off thought I was him. I came very near to being shot.

On holiday, I like to go somewhere hot and relaxed where I can warm aching bones. The best place for me is Australia. My body feels good in that kind of heat.But once, when we were touring Australia, the rehearsal space was a tin-roofed building. It must have been at least 40C in there.

The other extreme is, however, far worse. Peking was the coldest I've ever been - way below the minimum required temperature for dancing. Shivering in the wings, waiting to start, we could hear a commotion going on in the audience. It seemed that almost every person had brought a video camera to record the performance. Completely illegal. So we had to wait while they indignantly relinquished their cameras. I still saw a few telltale red lights dotted around the theatre, though.

Italy is one of my favourite places to perform. Contrary to most people's impressions, dancers love to eat and Italy is wonderful for people with big appetites. Long ago, I performed at an outdoor theatre in Verona. For some reason the evening dew falls very quickly there, and the floor of the theatre was covered in lino. The ballet was called Deserts, but by the time the curtain went up, the floor was anything but dusty and dry.

We managed to tiptoe though an alarmingly slippery first part, but after the interval, the floor was like an ice rink. One poor dancer ran on to centre stage, slipped, and just kept going, off the edge into the laps of some old Italian women. He tried to clamber back on to the stage but the women who'd caught him wouldn't let him go. Eventually he escaped their clutches by running around the side of the stage. He came back on and continued despite being more than a little bruised and battered.

I remember touring Eastern Europe during the Cold War. There was a theatre in Warsaw full of Communist officials who weren't really there to see contemporary dance and gave us little or no response. However, the company moved on to Lodz and I remember some wonderfully warm audiences, so amazingly hungry for contemporary arts. At the end of one performance they just didn't stop applauding. They moved me more than any audience has since.

We stayed at the Grand Hotel in Lodz which hadn't changed since the 1920s. It was majestic, with vast rooms and great furniture, but it had enormous cracks in the walls. There were huge, pre-war radios in each room which allowed you to tune into practically any radio station in the world.

Christopher Bruce is artistic director of the Rambert Dance Company, which returns to Sadler's Wells from 18 May with a mixed bill including the final performance of `The Cruel Garden'.

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