Emma Gladstone obituary


Emma Gladstone, who has died of most cancers aged 63, was a lady of impeccable style. As creative director and chief govt of the London pageant Dance Umbrella from 2013 to 2021, she confirmed an unerring expertise for recognizing revolutionary, typically experimental artists who might deeply join with audiences.

Some have been on the early levels of their careers and would go on to make a huge effect on the dance world, together with the Northern Irish choreographer Oona Doherty and Ivan Michael Blackstock, who gained an Olivier award in 2023.

Gladstone was instrumental in nurturing the Canadian modern ice skaters Le Patin Libre, giving them their first main fee – a efficiency at Alexandra Palace ice rink for the 2014 pageant – earlier than they went on to worldwide success. She as soon as described what she was searching for in a efficiency as “one thing articulate, courageous, private and distinctive”. And repeatedly she discovered it.

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A Dance Umbrella efficiency of Jérôme Bel’s Gala on the Bernie Grant arts centre, London, in 2016. {Photograph}: Foteini Christofilopoulou

However Gladstone’s inventive choices are solely half the story. She shall be remembered by artists, producers and programmers throughout the worldwide dance sector as an inspiring chief, devoted to supporting others’ creative concepts {and professional} growth.

Regardless of a schedule that at one level noticed her watching as much as 200 exhibits a yr, Gladstone would make time to sit down down and discuss, at all times bringing heat and sensible counsel. She was type and curious, real and beneficiant, able to take dangers and fast to chortle with an infectious, mischievous cackle. “You wished to be within the area that Emma was in,” stated Freddie Opoku-Addaie, her successor at Dance Umbrella. “It was simply the power; it was good vibes.”

Gladstone believed that dance had a larger mental energy than it’s typically given credit score for, to not impart concrete info, however in refined suggestion and connection. “I believe choreographers are such clever beings and so extensive of their considering and their invention,” she advised the author Nicholas Minns. She beloved dance’s capability to move the viewer to a special world, the moments she known as “carry off”: “I really like these works that make me go away the theatre in a special place from the place I went in; that’s what I need an viewers to really feel.”

At Dance Umbrella, and in her earlier function as creative programmer and producer at Sadler’s Wells, Gladstone programmed an enormous vary of artists from completely different types and cultures: the South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma, the unconventional flamenco artist Rocío Molina, the Indian kathak dancer Aditi Mangaldas and performers on the chopping fringe of European modern dance.

She was lively in diversifying not solely what was seen on stage, but in addition who noticed it, and the place, and who labored behind the scenes. She championed disabled artists, despatched youngsters’s exhibits on orbital excursions of London to achieve wider audiences, and put dances in parks or on rooftops, all throughout town.

She introduced within the comparatively inexperienced Opoku-Addaie at Dance Umbrella as a visitor programmer. “As an alternative of ‘Yeah, let’s give it some thought, let’s do a session’, she walked the stroll,” he recalled. Gladstone had no real interest in clinging on to the reins of energy. “I really like the job,” she stated in a 2019 interview, about working Dance Umbrella, “however the scene is consistently altering and new, youthful voices should be heard. You’ll be able to solely reinvent your individual wheel so many occasions.”

Gladstone was born in London; her father, Tim, labored for NatWest financial institution, her mom, Caroline, for Camden council and the Impartial Tv Fee. She had two brothers, Rupert, and her twin, Toby, and began ballet lessons on the age of 4, making her skilled stage debut at 11 within the musical I and Albert within the West Finish, alongside a younger Sarah Brightman. As a teen she danced with Arlene Phillips – showing on Prime of the Pops with Sizzling Gossip whereas nonetheless a pupil at Camden faculty for women.

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Emma Gladstone performing with the Cholmondeleys. {Photograph}: Chris Nash/PA

Graduating from Manchester College in 1983 with a level in historical past, Gladstone then went on to postgraduate dance research on the Laban Centre for Motion and Dance (now Trinity Laban Conservatoire) in London. It was there that she met Matthew Bourne; together with 5 different Laban college students they based, in 1986, Adventures in Movement Photos (which later developed into New Adventures).

Gladstone shortly emerged because the enterprise mind of the group and, in addition to performing as producer and a dancer with the corporate, as the one member with a driving licence it was her job to drive everybody residence in a van after the present. She stayed with the corporate for 3 years.

Gladstone danced with Lea Anderson’s all-female group the Cholmondeleys (pronounced Chumleys) between 1989 and 1997 earlier than shifting into producing and programming on the London dance establishment the Place. She was co-director on the manufacturing firm Crying Out Loud (2003-05) after which moved to Sadler’s Wells for the subsequent eight years, the place she launched many growth initiatives for choreographers.

She was concerned in quite a few tasks as an inventive director, adviser and mentor (each formally and informally). She was co-founder of the Large Pulse Dance Alliance, a community of 12 European dance festivals, and labored as an adviser, speaker and assessor internationally, together with in Chile, China, India, South Korea and Hong Kong. Gladstone additionally chaired the board of trustees at Siobhan Davies Dance for 4 years, till 2022.

In 2004 she married the artist and cabinet-maker Barnaby Stone. Gladstone had a daughter, Matty, from a earlier relationship and have become stepmother to Stone’s youngsters, Mair and Matthew. In 2016, after a life in London, she moved to Devon to reside near the place her husband grew up, first on the sting of Dartmoor after which in Dartington, the place she was on the board of Dartington Belief from 2019. Gladstone beloved strolling on Dartmoor and wild swimming within the River Dart, and was nonetheless cartwheeling on the seashore at 60.

A real lover of artwork in all its types, she had nice private model and would have music taking part in on a regular basis. A simple multitasker – there have been lists upon lists, chalkboards in every home she lived in – within the final three years of her life Gladstone mixed being creative director of the BBC Younger Dancer competitors with producing a global arts pageant in Athens for Rolex, in addition to caring for Barnaby, who had a stroke in 2020. He died final yr.

Gladstone was appointed OBE in 2021. When requested concerning the greatest classes she had realized throughout her time at Dance Umbrella, she stated: “Be type. Belief your intestine. Imagine within the artists. Belief the viewers … And don’t drink any wine earlier than doing a post-show discuss.”

She is survived by Matty, Mair and Matthew, her mom and her brothers.


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