Monthly Archives: January 2019

Everything you need to know about the new production choreographed by Kate Prince, set to the music of Sting

Sadler’s Wells and Universal Music UK have announced a new dance theatre production by Associate Artist Kate Prince, set to the iconic music of multi-Grammy award-winning artist, Sting, and co-produced with Birmingham Hippodrome and The Lowry.

The spectacular production will include hits from across Sting’s catalogue, including Every Breath You Take, Roxanne, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Walking On The Moon, Englishman in New York, Shape of My Heart and Fields of Gold.

Sting said: “It’s an intriguing idea to align my songs and music with the work of a successful and highly esteemed choreographer of Kate’s standing. I witnessed one of the first workshops and was very excited by the potential. It’s always interesting when someone from another field offers a fresh and unexpected perspective on your work and I’m so looking forward to seeing the piece.”

This production is the latest work from the creator behind Some Like it Hip Hop; Into The Hoods; Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (choreography) and SYLVIA, and features the astonishing talents of dance storytelling troupe, ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company.

The story follows the determined and daring adventures of three parted siblings in the aftermath of a tragic siege. Timely, moving and vital, an uplifting story of hope will be told with Kate Prince’s trademark spirited choreography.

“I’ve been a fan of Sting and The Police all my life and have seen him play live four times,” said Kate. “As a choreographer, when I listen to any music, I am always inspired to create dance, and Sting’s music, which has been playing in my headphones for over 30 years, kept bringing  me to the same thought, ‘I want to choreograph to this’. As a body of work it is a choreographer’s dream. I mentioned the idea in passing to Alistair Spalding, who has been supporting my career and ZooNation for 15 years. Pretty soon I found myself nervously entering the lobby of a swanky London hotel to pitch the idea to Sting himself. Much to my complete surprise but complete delight, it is actually happening! All of my work has a narrative. I love stories, and you can expect this to be no different. Sting’s lyrics draw on so many themes, from political to the tragic, from death and heartache to love and hope.”

Alistair Spalding, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells, said: “We have supported Kate Prince and her company ZooNation for 15 years and Kate became an Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells in 2010. A little while ago she mentioned to me that she had always been a fan of the music of The Police and Sting – this coincided with Universal Music and Sadler’s Wells discussing possible joint projects and the synchronicity has led to this wonderful project becoming a reality for our Peacock stage and beyond. The meeting of this rich catalogue of music and Kate Prince’s inventive and energy-filled choreography in the rehearsal studios has proven the incredible potential of this collaboration.”

Full cast to be announced following national auditions.

Message In A Bottle makes its world premiere at Sadler’s Wells’ West End theatre, The Peacock, from 6 Feb – 21 Mar 2020. Tickets go on sale from 25 Feb 2019. To book, call the ticket office on 020 7863 8000 or book online. Priority booking is open to members from 22 Feb 2019. Find out more and become a member today.

Images: Johan Persson


It takes a lot of balls to push the boundaries of juggling… but world renowned company Gandini Juggling, masterminded by Sean Gandini whose juggling career spans more than 30 years, has succeeded in filling venues around the world with spectacles that delight the senses.

Gandini have continuously reinvented the art-form of juggling with their cleverly choreographed shows, drawing influences from the world of dance. Here are our top five moments when Gandini Juggling broke the mould…


As it says on the tin, Smashed literally ends with a thrilling and climatic finale in which an afternoon tea party goes rogue. Each performance demands four crockery sets destroyed by nine jugglers. Juggling balls are also replaced with 80 red apples. This multi-layered show is an homage to the late German choreographer Pina Bausch, and is scattered with subtle nods to her work.


Created in collaboration with choreographer Seeta Patel, Sigma fuses juggling with the language of the Indian classical dance style of bharatanatyam. The mirrored set adds layers of symmetry and pattern to distort these intermingling styles.


In this highly technical feat of ingenuity, ten jugglers create an impressive visual display using the latest light technology. The company can programme up to ten million different colours to any kind of music, ranging from the elegant classic Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 to trendy electronica and upbeat Black Eyed Peas


With a soundtrack that includes The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground and Bowie, 8 Songs pays tribute to musical legends. With each song, the choreography enters its own micro-universe, layered with meaning. Plus, it ends with a clever send-up of silent disco!


When there’s water involved, juggling balls get slippery, so this outdoor spectacle was a risk to take for Sean Gandini and his company of 27 jugglers ( not that you could tell – the performance was seamless). But risk-taking is exactly what circus is all about so what better way to celebrate the 250th anniversary.

6. When dancers became jugglers and jugglers became dancers…

In their latest work, Spring, Gandini Juggling join forces with Alexander Whitley, a choreographer at the cutting-edge of contemporary dance, to experiment with kaleidoscopic colour. It’s set to a baroque-meets-techno score by leading composer Gabriel Prokofiev.

Spring comes to Sadler’s Wells as part of London International Mime Festival from 31 Jan – 2 Feb. Tickets are priced from £12. To book, call the Ticket Office on 020 7863 8000 or book online.

Our Most Memorable Circus Moments

“The circus is the only fun you can buy that is good for you.” Ernest Hemmingway.

Roll up! Roll up! Ahead of the anticipated return of Cirque Éloize to The Peacock this February, we’re looking back at some of the most memorable circus moments in the weird and wonderful history of both Sadler’s Wells and The Peacock, going all the way back to when we first opened our doors!

Old dogs, new tricks

Man’s best friend, and an array of other creatures have featured in productions dating right back to the beginning of Sadler’s Wells’ circus history. While we now have very strict regulations when it comes to using animals on stage, in days gone by these rules were sparse, and rarely even considered. Some of the fantastic animals to grace our stages as far back as the early eighteenth century included Scaglioni’s troupe of performing dogs, a singing duck, swimming horses (I  kid you not, Aqua Drama was a thing) and a very clever pig whose repertoire included telling the time and distinguishing colours. There’s also a pair of particularly naughty dolphins which we’ll come on to later…

Clowning around

Along with animal rights rules, child labour laws are also a missing feature in early circus history. In 1780 Jospeh Grimaldi, or “Joey” as this fabulous toddler clown was professionally known, made his debut on the Sadler’s Wells stage when his performative father took him on stage for his first “bow and first tumble” (We remember doing this in our living rooms performing as the Spice Girls.) By 1782 he was known as London’s leading clown and comic entertainer, enjoying success during residencies at both Sadler’s Wells and Covent Garden Theatres. In one particularly memorable moment in Sadler’s Wells’ history, Joey was flung from the stage by his father whilst playing the part of a monkey, hanging onto his father’s waist by a chain and landing face down in the orchestra pit. 

Considered to be the original coiner of the pantomime catchphrase “Here we go again!” Joey leaves behind an extensive legacy of character acting, harlequinade and sheer youthful ambition in the most extreme form.

Here he is, looking like his best self.


Her Majesty’s Theatre has Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree (great name, just saying), Theatre Royal Drury Lane has The Man in Grey – some frightening kind of knife-wielding skeleton – and the Adelphi Theatre has William Terriss, a celebrated actor murdered by a disgruntled co-star (brutal). But who has the most impressive theatre ghost in all of the West End? We do, we do! The Peacock has Flipper (not the Flipper, but an actual dolphin) embodying the dear departed spirits of Pennie and Pixie, two dolphins that lived in tanks beneath the stage with the sole purpose of jumping up to disrobe female performers in the then infamous nude revues.

Allegedly the ghost of Flipper haunts the hallowed halls of The Peacock in search of retribution for his untimely death at the hands of his negligent carers but there’s also a strange argument suggesting the dolphins were sold to a theme park in Yorkshire – we’ll let you make up your own minds. Either way, keep an ear out for Flipper’s strange squeaking on your next visit to The Peacock, apparently not dissimilar to that of a crying baby… spooky!

In recent years

Fast forward to this century and Sadler’s Wells is transformed into an international hub of dance performance in all its many malleable forms. With the root of circus in celebration of the body and its many marvellous capabilities, it seems the perfect companion for an organisation that rejoices in movement. We have had the pleasure of working with some incredible circus companies on an array of brilliant shows which look at the fantastic relationship between circus and dance. Some of our recent highlights include James Thiérrée – Au Revoir Parapluie, 2007, The 7 Fingers – TRIPTYQUE, 2016 and the smash hit from returning company Cirque Éloize – iD, 2016.

Don’t miss the incredible Cirque Éloize return to the Peacock with their spectacular new show, Hotel, in celebration of the company’s 25th Anniversary. For more information and to book tickets visit our website.

Cirque Éloize – Hotel, The Peacock, 20 Feb – 9 March.

Tickets from £15.

Swan Lake curtain raiser is ‘once-in-a-lifetime experience’ for students

Our Learning & Engagement team and our Resident Company New Adventures worked with 18 students from our Associate Schools programme over two weeks this month to create a short piece inspired by Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. Following intense rehearsals in our Studio A, the project culminated with the students premiering their new piece on our main stage before the company’s Swan Lake performance on 11 January.

Emily Massey, a student at City and Islington College, wrote about her experience taking part in the curtain raiser:

“When I first heard about the opportunity to audition for Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, I couldn’t contain my excitement. The thought of getting the chance to perform on a stage that thousands of amazing dancers have danced on was simply unbelievable. Come audition day, I was a bundle of nerves, yet once the audition started they all seemed to fade away. I was made to feel so comfortable and supported by the instructors and my fellow peers that the dreaded word, audition, no longer seemed so scary.

After rehearsals had started, that’s when the real fun began! I have personally always been taught that dance is about technique, but this experience has taught me that it is so much more than that. Dance is a combination of movement and storytelling, and throughout this adventure we were pushed to the limits not only to improve technically as dancers but to develop our characterisation. Trying to embody a swan is a lot harder than you would think, but we were given suggestions on several strategies to employ in order to be able to do that along the way, and lots of support. By far the most challenging, yet rewarding part of the curtain raiser was getting the chance to create our own swan motifs. We were pushed to think like swans, which is hard given we’re human, but with extra guidance, we all created swan-like movements that were incorporated in the dance

“The lessons I’ve learnt along the way from both dancers and choreographers will stay with me.” Hannah Rose

I also met some of the best people I will ever meet in my life and that’s thanks to this whole experience. Having come from four different schools, we originally started off quite separated, but within a day or so we all quickly became very close and supportive of each other; it was an amazing environment to be in.

“Having the chance to be part of such an amazing experience reminds me of why I love to dance and what I would like to achieve in the future.” Isis

Getting to dance on the Sadler’s Wells stage was incredible! I have never done anything like it in my life and will never forget it. It was like I was dreaming the whole thing because it was so great. The most amazing part was meeting the man behind it all, Matthew Bourne, who choreographed Swan Lake for his company New Adventures. I was in absolute awe, it was a totally surreal moment.

“We gained insight into how a professional company works.” Mia

Getting to meet the professional company before dancing was unreal. They are our idols, the people we are striving to be, and meeting them as well as dancing on the same stage as them was too good to be true. It was truly an unforgettable experience and I will cherish the memories of it forever, as well as hope that I get to do it again next year!”

“The curtain raiser was fantastic! I saw most of my students afterwards and they were really buzzing and so excited about the whole experience. Thank you for facilitating this project, it makes such a difference to the students’ whole approach to dance and its possibilities.” Siobhan White, dance teacher at City and Islington College

“Wow – what an evening! Our students are so inspirational and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying their performance was incredible. Blown away by their talent and performance abilities! Thank you so much – opportunities like these are second to none and your support has played a great part in helping our young dancers to find and enjoy their passion.” Gemma Anderson, dance teacher at Bow School