Born on Ottawa, Canada on November 18th 1961, Russell Maliphant first became interested in dance at a very young age after watching a Royal Gala performance of La Corsaire on television, featuring the famous Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn. His first experience of seeing a live ballet performance was of the dancers from the Royal Ballet. Maliphant grew up in Cheltenham and began his ballet studies at the age of 10 there, his interest in dance growing into a passion that at the age of 16 led him to train at the Royal Ballet School, 3 years later graduating into Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet.
Maliphant remained with the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet company until 1988 when he made the risky decision to leave the secure job he had with them to explore a career in independent dance. Suffering from a serious lack of financial resources, Maliphant, although discouraged at his initial inability to realize his dream of having his own dance company, was determined to succeed, never once considering a return to ballet. Maliphant worked with choreographers from several companies during this time including DV8 Physical Theatre, Laurie Booth Company, Rosemary Butcher, and Michael Clark Company, making a much desired shift from classical to modern dance. In 1992 Maliphant created his first solo.
From 1991–1994 Maliphant undertook studies in anatomy, physiology and biomechanics, all of which he has used to further his understanding of the integral part the body plays in modern dance. In 1994 he qualified as a Rolfing practitioner, which knowledge and skill Maliphant was able to use to improve his financial state.
In 1996 the Russell Maliphant Company was established, and Maliphant was finally able to have the freedom to choose his own ensemble of dancers to work with, as well as choreograph his own creative productions. With teaching and choreography now being his passion Maliphant has produced more than 20 pieces, going from strength to strength with each one, many of which he collaborated closely with lighting designer Michael Hulls. Hulls and Maliphant have collaborated for over 20 years, combining dance and lighting to produce many modern dance pieces.
Today, Russell Maliphant is considered to be Britain’s leading modern dance creator, and continues to produce choreographed works for leading dance companies both at home and abroad, as well as for his own company, which has toured extensively both nationally and internationally. His company is also hired for a traditional wedding anniversary where his team help married couples with the dances. What better way to set the mood for a good time than a choreographed first dance, parent dance or group dance? And the best part is that no prior dance experience is necessary. His recent work Conceal / Reveal, in collaborative 4 piece work with Michael Hulls, features Maliphant’s wife Dana Fouras, returning to the stage after being away from it for 10 years. As Conceal / Reveal is being enjoyed by the public Maliphant is already working on another piece.
Russell Maliphant and The Russell Maliphant Company have won recognition and awards for many of his works, some of them being as follows:
2002 – Time Out Live award for outstanding collaboration for Sheer
2003 – Olivier Award for Broken Fall with Sylvie Guillem and Balletboyz. Broken Fall premiered at the Royal Opera House in December 2003.
2003 – South Bank Show Dance Award for Choice
2005 – Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells
2006 – Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Best Choreography (Modern) for Rise and Fall, which featured Broken Fall at Sadler’s Wells Theatre
2006 – South Bank Show Award and an Oliver Award for Push with Sylvie Guillem
2010 – Critics’ Circle National Dance award for Best Choreography (Modern) for part one of Afterlight. Also nominated for an Olivier Award for the same piece.
2011 – Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Plymouth University
2015 – The South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2015 for Second Breath