Memories: Robin Anderson

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General administrator, The Scottish Ballet, 1973-1988

Four years after the establishment of Scottish Theatre Ballet north of the border the position of Administrator of the company became vacant and I applied for the job. Peter took an instant dislike to me at my interview (which he later described as 'abrasive').

But Robin Duff the Chairman took it upon himself to act as mediator and took us out for a splendid lunch at the end of which, suitably sustained by more than several glasses of wine, we decided that we could work together. I was duly appointed and joined the Company for what was to be a demanding joyous, and exciting 15 years.

These last three adjectives describe accurately how it was to work with Peter he was all of these things, and more than a touch exasperating from time to time. My brief as Administrator was quite simple - to integrate the company fully into the artistic life of Scotland and to help Peter in establishing it as an internationally renowned dance company. Together we devised a programme of repertoire, performances and policies, which addressed these objectives. The rest is history.

Naturally Peter's own works dominated the company's repertoire, but he also added considerably to its prestige by inviting new guest choreographers as well as bringing into the repertoire other established classics, particularly those of the nineteenth century Danish choreographer August Bournonville. One of Peter's great gifts was the attention he paid to the minutest character on stage and every member of the corps was given a scenario of their own to act out. The result was that Peter's productions had a sparkle and liveliness in the crowd scenes that really brought them to life. I well remember his urgent desire to get rid of the Bournonville experts who had come to stage the works so that after the opening night he could get his hands on the production. Not that he ever changed a step or altered a production move but he scattered the stardust that immediately brought the production to life.

But Peter also scattered this same stardust all around him in real life.
As a man he commanded the love and respect of everyone in the company from star dancers to backstage workers and office clerks and he was fun to work with and to be with. He certainly became central to my life and even now, 10 years after his death, I still have vivid dreams about him - usually set around some horrific and terrifying theatrical circumstance where Peter eventually exits the scene saying, as he so often did, "I leave it to you darling, but don't worry you can do it!"

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