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Tribute to Adèle Thompson

A passionate dancer, choreographer, abseil-dancer, stilt artist and teacher, Adèle was an MU member for over 25 years. This is a tribute written by two of her friends and work colleagues.

Published: 18 June 2024 | 5:37 PM
Adèle smiling in mid movement during a dance practice.
"We join in thanking her for sharing her love of dance, her energy, expertise and creativity with such generosity".

It is with great sadness that we share the news of Adèle Thompson’s passing earlier this year on 5 February 2024, at her home in Ibiza. She was 68 years old. Adèle’s memorial took place in Ibiza on 20 April 2024.

Adèle was a passionate and much-loved dancer, choreographer, abseil-dancer, stilt artist and teacher. She studied at Cambridge University and went on to train at London Contemporary Dance School before launching into a prolific career.

She worked for many years with London Contemporary Dance Theatre’s Education and Outreach team and danced in the arena operas Carmen, Tosca and Aida in England, Europe and Japan.

A field-leader in contemporary circus

Adèle was a founding member of STOMP’s European touring company, performing in the Oscar nominated short film Brooms (1996) and their sell-out season at London’s Royal Festival Hall. She toured extensively with the company, leading STOMP workshops across the UK and in Europe, including for London Contemporary Dance School, Skollen for Moderne Dans and Syddansk Universitet Denmark.

Adèle was a field-leader in contemporary circus, incorporating dance, abseiling, aerial and stilt work. She was head of movement, music and equilibristics for the New Millennium Experience Company, training all the performers of the Central Show in the Millenium Dome, and one of the team writing the first ever degree in Circus Arts for Circus Space, London.

She went on to become one of the core artistic team at the Millenium Dome, and from there, was invited to devise, direct and perform in an aerial entertainment for Manumission in Ibiza, the biggest club in the world.

Wide-ranging commissions

Adèle’s choreographic commissions were wide-ranging and included work for Norfolk and Norwich Festival (with Spanish street company Sarruga and Brazilian favela band Moleque De Rua), DanceEast, Amani Ngoma National Dance Company of Zanzibar, performance poet John Hegley, and two short films for the Royal College of Art.

She was part of the artistic team leading the National Youth Dance Festival in 2006, and worked on the Birmingham Royal Ballet and Channel 4 documentary Ballet Changed My Life: Ballet Hoo! in the same year.

She co-directed Sadler’s Wells Youth Dance Company with Kenneth Tharp for six years, and created six works for them. At the time of her death, Adèle had only recently retired from her role as the third Dancer in Residence at Queens’ College in Cambridge, a position that she held from 2006 – 2020.

Infectious energy

Hundreds, maybe thousands of dancers who had the great pleasure of learning from Adèle will remember her “Infectious energy”, as the Times Educational Supplement once described it, and her incredible rhythm - mind bending tasks of counting backwards, of reversing complicated sequences, of counting 7, then 10,5,8,6,3 and back to 7.

All those who knew her will have experienced Adèle’s extraordinary range of choreographic ideas: cascades of brooms and poles; tin cans and bin lids; a room filled with white balloons; stilt-walking through cities; Scottish-dancing style jigs; dancing with handbells in the snow; the abundance of hand-made costumes in rainbow colours – all held together beautifully by Adèle, with her sensational resonating voice.

For all those who danced with Adèle and remember her, we invite you to contribute photos, memories and thoughts to her tribute page https://adelethompson.muchloved.com/. 

We join in thanking her for sharing her love of dance, her energy, expertise and creativity with such generosity. She will be much missed.

Adèle was a member of the MU for 28 years, having originally begun a membership in 1996.

This tribute has been provided by Adèle’s friends and colleagues Katie Green and Hilary Goodall.

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