Monthly Archives: September 2018

OUR BEST BOLLYWOOD MOMENTS ON THE BIG SCREEN

As we creep somewhat unwillingly into autumn and summer feels like a distant memory, we are keeping the vibrancy alive with the arrival of the internationally acclaimed musical, Taj Express at The Peacock this October!

The glitzy costumes, electrifying energy and breath-taking dance are sure to put the spring back in your step – Vaibhavi and Shruti Merchant’s spectacular Bollywood extravaganza is here to brighten up your seasonal blues!

Taj Express follows the story of Shankar, a struggling young composer paving the way for himself in the world’s most prolific film industry, following in the footsteps of his idol A.R. Rahman. Inspired by Shankar, and to get us in the mood, we are taking a look at some of our favourite Bollywood dance moments from the big screen…

WHEN YOU’RE ON A TRAIN AND ALL YOU WANT TO DO IS DANCE…

‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ (Dil Se, 1998)

In this fabulous 90’s Bollywood classic we see a spontaneous outbreak of dance atop a moving train! (We know what we’ve got planned for on our ride home…) The actor Shah Rukh Khan didn’t even use a safety harness whilst filming this scene! Written by the man himself, A.R.Rahman, this song also features in the opening sequence to the movie Inside Man (2006) starring Clive Owen and Denzel Washington.

WHEN YOU’RE SO GOOD YOU INSPIRED MOULIN ROUGE…

‘Chamma Chamma’ (China Gate, 1998)

This beautiful routine features an array of eye-catching Indian attire, including ‘jingling anklets’ worn by charismatic Bollywood star Urmila Matondkar, which she sings about in the Hindi lyrics. The tune was so popular it was remixed by Baz Luhrmann in his 2001 blockbuster hit Moulin Rouge!

WHEN YOUR WRATH TURNS YOU INTO A SNAKE…

‘Main Teri Dushman’ (Nagina, 1986)

We can’t get enough of the drama in this interpretive number – Sridevi, in the lead role, takes on the daunting task of portraying a shape-shifting venomous snake in this Bollywood cult classic. Apparently, Jaya Pradha was originally offered the lead role in this film which she turned down due to a fear of snakes!

WHEN DANCING TURNS A BLACK AND WHITE WORLD INTO COLOUR

‘Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya’ (Mughal-e-Azam, 1960)

The set’s the thing in this elegant number as Madhubala navigates an elaborate hall of mirrors in an exploration of forbidden love. This sudden splash of colour in a black and white film proves dance really can light up the darkest of days (and the limited budget meant they could only have two of the scenes in full technicolour)! Look out for the statue of Lord Krishna which was made from pure gold – no wonder it’s the most expensive Indian film ever made.

WHEN TWO DIVAS COLLIDE…

‘Dola Re Dola’ (Devdas, 2002)

We love a good old fashioned dance off! In this clip Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai treat us to Bollywood diva special as they do their very best to out-dance one another in this upbeat number (and look fabulous doing it!).

Taj Express runs at The Peacock from 2 – 20 Oct. Tickets are available from £15. To book, call the Ticket Office on 020 7863 8000 or book online.

SW Voices: Tiegan Hummerston

Tiegan Hummerston joined us in September 2016 on an apprenticeship placement, working at Sadler’s Wells for four days a week while she studied toward a formal qualification in Business Administration. Earlier this year, Tiegan was shortlisted for the National Apprenticeship Week’s Creative Apprentice of the Year award with Lewisham Southwark College. She was recently promoted to HR Assistant, taking up a full-time position. In this interview, Tiegan shares her experiences of working for Sadler’s Wells and in HR.

Hi Tiegan, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in Essex, where I still live today. After finishing my GCSEs and A-Levels, I wasn’t quite sure about what I wanted to do next. Most people my age were going to university, but I didn’t feel ready to commit entirely to one subject – my A-Levels were fairly diverse; Psychology, History, Art and Law – so I decided to look into a range of apprenticeships and work opportunities. I was taken on for two weeks’ work experience in two separate companies, both of them in HR departments. I decided to try this experience, as it was suggested to me based on my current interests and skill set. After undertaking these two weeks’ worth, I felt very positive about the experience and decided to begin applying to full-time HR apprenticeship schemes.

How did you find out about the apprenticeship, and was there anything about Sadler’s Wells that particularly drew you in?

I actually found the posting through the gov.uk website. I hadn’t heard much about Sadler’s Wells, but I did some research and was intrigued – I liked the fact that they wanted to get young people involved in the arts, both in terms of engaging them in dance and in terms of helping them get experience in and be employed in the creative sector.

What did your apprenticeship involve, and how does it compare to your role now?

While doing the apprenticeship, it very much felt like I was a full-time employee – so there wasn’t actually a huge jump in terms of workload! The role came with a lot of responsibility quite early on. I’m still very happy I was formally taken on. Our HR Coordinator recently left, which provided me with an open opportunity to be kept on in the department. After discussing my interest in staying with my colleagues and line manager, they decided to reset the job level to an Assistant role, to which I was happy and comfortable with applying for. The only noted difference is that my workload has gone up – so the sort of experience I was gaining during the apprenticeship has been important for staying on top of things.

During my training period, I was at Sadler’s Wells for four days a week, and I was going to college on a day release on the other day. The course was in Business Administration, and we did coursework, had lectures and exams. So I was getting the roots of the theory for one day a week, then applying that on the other days – it was an interesting combination.

What have you particularly enjoyed during your time at Sadler’s Wells?

I’ve enjoyed a lot, but some of the aspects of recruitment in particular – I like meeting new people, and it’s been great to put into practice the policies about engaging young people I first read about on the website. An event that sticks in my mind is Skills London, an event where everyone in Sadler’s Wells HR and some of the interns go to the ExCeL Centre in East London to talk to young people about work opportunities and the creative sector. We had our own stall and spoke to loads of people; it was really interesting and great to engage with young people who are considering a career in the arts.

Staff induction days have been another highlight – it’s great to get experience in leadership, and curating a whole day of talks and activities makes for a really rewarding project.

What advice would you give others looking to make their way into the arts, HR, or the professional world more broadly?

If you don’t know what you want to do just yet, try getting experience in a field you think you might enjoy. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I gave HR a go, and – perhaps luckily – it just really seemed to click with me. It’s not always a good idea to go to university just because people around you are going; it’s experience that gives you a real feel for what you might want to do in life. Do some research, dig around, and see what might appeal to you!

A Guide to The Trocks

You don’t have to be a ballet expert to enjoy the wonder that is The Trocks, but a little ballet knowledge will go a long way to helping you enjoy some of the more esoteric humour.

Here’s a little run down of the ballets that the troupe will be taking on, to get you started.

Swan Lake

Everyone knows this one. A lonely prince is ordered to marry by his imperious mother, lest he falls into eternal bachelorhood with his best buddy, Benno. Throw in an evil sorcerer, a flock of swans and a cursed princess and you have the world’s most famous ballet. The Trocks dive straight to action on the lake in Act II, where Prince Siegfried and the Swan Queen Odette finally meet.

La Trovatiara

Here we have a little in joke from the Trocks. La Trovatiara does not exist outside the world of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Set to some luscious music by Giuseppe Verdi, the choreography takes everything nonsensical about the opera ballets of yesteryear (when ballet was nothing more than something for bored opera patrons to look at in between scenes) and turns it into something quite Trock-tastic.

The Little Humpback Horse

Not actually a joke, there really is a ballet about a magical horse. Based on the fairytale by Russian poet Pyotr Yershov, The Little Humpback Horse follows the adventures of Ivanushka and his equine companion as he defeats evil, marries a Tsarina and becomes Tsar himself. It’s utterly bonkers.

Les Sylphides

Not to be confused with the similarly named, but significantly older ballet, La Sylphide. There are no Scottish Baronial manors or flying kilts here. Based on the original choreography by Belle Époque-era choreographer Michel Fokine, Les Sylphides dispenses with story and goes straight to a signature part of any classical ballet – ‘the white act’ (think Swan Lake’s swans, Giselle’s Willis and Bayadere’s The Kingdom of the Shades – ethereal and atmospheric, and just a little bit spooky).

Napoli

Alternatively titled, The Fisherman and His Bride, Napoli was created in 1842 and is one of the oldest ballets still being danced (only beaten by the grande dame, Giselle, by a single year). Choreographed by August Bournonville, whose work is renowned the world over for his bouncy, light and very Danish style, Napoli is his take on Italian culture, with lots of happy townsfolk dancing in the streets, storms, attempted suicide and a hefty dose of Catholicism. Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending.

Raymonda

One of the old Imperial ballets choreographed by Marius Petipa (he of Swan Lake and Nutcracker fame), Raymonda is a ballet that defies explanation. And because of this, it is rarely performed in full. Most companies plump for just the third act which is full of fabulous Hungarian(ish) dancing and a wedding. You just need to know that our heroine, Raymonda, is very much in love with Jean de Brienne, and she’s gone through a bit of an ordeal in order to get married.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo perform at The Peacock from 11 – 22 Sept. Tickets are available now priced from £15. To book, call the Ticket Office on 020 7863 8222 or book online.

NATALIA OSIPOVA’S BEST BALLET MOMENTS

When it comes to the world of classical ballet, Natalia Osipova is perhaps one of the most recognisable names and critically acclaimed dancers of her generation. Hailed as a peerless talent and a perfectionist of her craft, her glittering ballet career began with the Bolshoi Ballet at just 18 years old, before becoming a guest artist with American Ballet Theatre and later, The Royal Ballet where she remains a principal dancer. In that time she has danced some of most iconic roles in the classical ballet canon as well as defining roles in new works by leading choreographers such as Christopher Wheeldon, Wayne McGregor and Alistair Marriott.

This September (12 – 16), Natalia will lead a mixed programme of classical and contemporary repertoire on the Sadler’s Wells stage in Pure Dance, alongside esteemed dancers Jonathan Goddard and Jason Kittelberger, and special guest David Hallberg.

As she prepares for her next major performance, we reflect back on some of Natalia’s finest career moments to date…

When she made her Royal Ballet debut alongside Carlos Acosta…

 

Giselle. Natalia Osipova as Giselle and Carlos Acosta as Albrecht at the Royal Opera House, 2014. Credit: Bill Cooper

Natalia made her Royal Ballet debut in 2012 as the leading role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, in a dream pairing with the equally revered ballet dancer Carlos Acosta, as Siegfried. They later returned to the Royal Opera House stage to take the leads in Giselle, a role for which Natalia is perhaps best-known. Cuban ballet icon Carlos has also built a successful career as a choreographer, having most recently presented the debut work of his company Acosta Danza, which was produced by Sadler’s Wells and went on to tour the UK and internationally.

When she performed the title role in The Firebird…

 

Natalia Osipova as Firebird. Photo: Gene Schiavone/Courtesy American Ballet Theatre.

Whilst she was a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, Natalia created the title role in the world premiere of The Firebird by renowned choreographer and former director of the Bolshoi Ballet, Alexei Ratmansky. Natalia will perform another world premiere by Ratmansky, Valse Triste, as part of Pure Dance this September, inspired by the music of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Natalia and Ratmansky’s longstanding relationship stems back to their days at the Bolshoi, where he spent four years as artistic director. “He amazes me. He comes ready with everything in his mind, and then we start working and he starts changing things. He is very attentive to every little detail, every bend of the finger. Everything must be done just so,” says Natalia on working with Ratmansky.

When she got a SIX star review…

 

Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev in Bolshoi Ballet’s Don Quixote in 2011. Credit: Damir Usupov©Bolshoi Theatre

When Natalia stepped out onto the stage at the London Coliseum in the Bolshoi Ballet’s production of Don Quixote in 2007, the ballet critic for the Financial Times, Clement Crisp, was so blown away that he awarded the show not five, but SIX stars. At just 18 years old, Ivan Vasiliev shone as Basilio alongside Osipova as Kitri in this joyous production. It was her first leading role for the Bolshoi after just one year dancing for the company.

When she danced Flames of Paris with Ivan Vasiliev…

 

Natalia Osipova in Flames of Paris, 2011. Photograph is E. Fetisova © Bolshoi Theatre

In another sensational performance from the Bolshoi Ballet’s golden couple, Natalia and Ivan revived the classic with new choreography by Alexei Ratmansky in 2008 to much critical acclaim, long after it was first performed by the company in 1933. Ivan and Natalia have also experimented with contemporary works, including work by Ohad Naharin, Arthur Pita and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui in Solo for Two. He is not the only ‘Ivan’ to have worked with Natalia, as she will perform Flutter, a brand new work by the choreographer Iván Pérez as part of Pure Dance!

When she danced Giselle with David Hallberg…

 

Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg in Giselle. Photo: Rosalie O’Connor/Courtesy American Ballet Theatre

Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg are a match made in ballet heaven, but perhaps their most memorable performance together was in American Ballet Theatre’s production of Giselle. In a lucky accident, Natalia was dancing for ABT at the time when her partner got injured and Hallberg stepped in. Like a romantic fairytale, this fateful accident turned out to be the beginning of a long and successful on stage partnership. And even spookier, they share the same birthday on the 18 May! They will be reunited on-stage once again in Pure Dance, celebrating ten years since they first danced together in Giselle. Hallberg will be performing a brand new solo by director Kim Brandstrup as well as the world premiere of two duets with Natalia, by Ratmansky and Antony Tudor.

Pure Dance makes its World Premiere at Sadler’s Wells from 12 – 16 Sep. Tickets are available now priced from £12. To book, call the Ticket Office on 020 7863 8000 or book online.

Crystal Pite to be honoured at 61st annual Dance Magazine Awards

We were thrilled to hear the news that Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Crystal Pite is to be honoured at Dance Magazine 61st Annual Awards for her “lasting impact on dance”.

The awards, which began in 1954, will be held in December at the Ailey Citigroup Theatre in New York. Crystal’s contribution to choreography is being celebrated alongside the work of her peers Ronald K. Brown, Lourdes Lopez and Michael Trusnovec. CEO and Chairman of Dance Media Frederic Segal complimented a “stellar group of honourees”. Past recipients include Margot Fonteyn in 1963, Sir Frederick Ashton in 1970, William Forsythe in 2003 and Wayne McGregor in 2014.

Since establishing her company Kidd Pivot in 2002, Crystal’s work has become highly regarded for its blending of movement, original music, text and visual design into works that analyse the human condition with a distinctly eerie tone. She became Sadler’s Wells’ 16th Associate Artist in 2013.

In 2016 Sadler’s Wells co-produced Betroffenheit, a dance-theatre hybrid piece Crystal created with fellow Canadian actor and playwright Jonathon Young. It examined the psychological states of trauma, grief and addiction, and won the Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production in 2016. It returned to Sadler’s Wells for a sold-out run in 2017, where it was recorded and subsequently broadcast on BBC Four.

This year, Crystal choreographed two pieces that graced our stage – Solo Echo for Ballet British Columbia and The Statement for Nederlans Dans Theater’s NDT1, both of which emerged as critical favourites within their troupe’s respective mixed bills.

This will be the latest in a long line of awards and honours for Crystal. She is the personal recipient of the Banff Centre’s Clifford E. Lee Award, the Bonnie Bird North American Choreography Award, and the Isadora Award.

Congratulations!

Jefta van Dinther: “It was a very beautiful but estranging experience, seeing my living body”

Choreographer and dancer Jefta van Dinther is known for creating striking sensorial illusions. Ahead of the UK premiere of his new work, Dark Field Analysis, we caught up with Jefta in Gothenburg to find out more about the creation of this intimate and voyeuristic piece.

What inspired you to create Dark Field Analysis?
There were two main starting points. One was the title of the piece which is a term I borrowed from a method within alternative medicine. It’s a way of taking a blood sample – a drop of blood from your ear – and placing it under a special microscope to invert the structures and colours, which means you can see the blood living as you watch it. I had this analysis, and for me it was a very beautiful and profound but also an estranging experience of looking in to myself and seeing my living body. I had a very existential experience, and I became interested in how you could be so distant to yourself at the same time as looking at yourself. The term, dark field analysis, struck me as something very beautiful and poetic, a mix between something scientific and something very philosophical.

This starting point came with another: at that moment in my life I was having a lot of strong encounters, meeting people for the first time, and I had very powerful exchanges with people through words. I became interested in the materiality of the spoken word and how there was a feeling of profundity in that exchange. This inspired me to make a piece that had spoken word between two people as the main motor.

How did you use this scientific approach to influence your creative work?
In the end there’s very little science left. The performance is an experiential journey of perceptions and colours, but also of stories, a kind of staging of two people whose relationship you don’t really understand. The piece starts as a kind of anatomical theatre, a laboratory space, as an aesthetic expression of this science, but slowly things start to dissolve. The audience is sitting on four sides of the stage looking on to the performance area, and something that starts off as shared ends up becoming something that is yours, as one dives into a black hole with very low levels of light illuminating the bodies. It’s almost like a dream; a distorted inner landscape. I think the piece enables a journey from this public, scientific, open space where everything is presented, to something much more mysterious, poetic and internal.

Dark Field Analysis centres on an intimate exchange between two men, beautifully performed by Juan Pablo Cámara and Roger Sala Reyner. What inspired you to focus on a duet relationship? How collaborative has the making process been?
When I first asked them to join the process, I asked if they were willing to sit on the carpet naked and talk for one hour surrounded by the audience. This point of departure had to do with my personal story of meeting and falling in love with a new person, and the kind of conversational mode that takes place in the early stages of a relationship when you’re diving in to each other, through which you also dive in to yourself – there’s a kind of re-configuration of who you are through somebody else. Those conversations often take place when you’re in bed, in the park, or on the carpet of your home. It’s accompanied with that unassuming, lazy space.

My work in general is very collaborative, but in this case the performance unfolded specifically in relation to the performers. The qualities they have became very directive. I think it has to do with their use of voices, which are very present in the piece. The voice is an extension of the body and it carries a lot of personality. They are also naked throughout the performance which is a very personal exposure of who you are.

Can you tell us about your use of text, which plays an important role in this work?
In the end, the piece became much more of a complex assemblage between music, light, voice, body, choreography and material than I had thought. But from the very beginning I approached it as a textual and sonic piece. I was really interested in the idea of conversation.

We didn’t know how to stage this conversation. I had the blue carpet and the audience on four sides in mind, but I didn’t know what the performers were going to do, or if they were even going to move. So we spent the first five weeks just generating texts and dialogue that we would record, transcribe, repeat and it was only when we actually put ourselves on that carpet that these bodies started to move. The text gave rise to a way of becoming. We ended up working around the idea of what it is to be a human body, through a juxtaposition of the human in relation to other forms of life. We’re exploring an animal quality, but also a synthetic or cyborgian quality, something that is not sentient.

What would you like audiences to take away from this work?
What I understand when I hear people share their experience of this performance is that it can enable a kind of journey in to yourself – in a similar way to how I dived into myself through that microscope, you can dive in to certain areas of yourself that are not so clear and that you don’t visit very often. To areas that you don’t necessarily know how to label. It stirs something in you and creates an intensity, even becomes emotional. What I would love is for people to allow themselves to be in this state without having to do something with it or without having to name it – maybe not even make sense of it through talking. It’s not about grasping, it’s about being.

Dark Field Analysis comes to the Lilian Baylis Studio on 12–14 Sep. Tickets are £17. To book, call the Ticket Office on 020 7863 8000 or book online.