Monthly Archives: January 2020

“REASSURING. COMFORTABLE. OPEN. NEEDED”: HIP HOP ARTIST JOURNEYS BACK TO THE LAB

Four hip hop artists went Back To The Lab to develop their practice and create new work under the mentorship of leading choreographers, theatre makers and dramaturgs this month. Nathan Lafayette, Pervez, Shaadow Sefiroth and duo Cat Jiminez & Jaekwon took part in the latest edition of the artist development course, led by Sadler’s Wells Breakin’ Convention’s team.

Back To The Lab invites professional hip hop artists to explore and experiment with different choreographic methods. It supports them as they put their new-found knowledge into practice by devising new work, which is then presented to, and discussed with, a live audience at the end of an intensive, two-week period.

Ahead of the final sharing in our Lilian Baylis Studio on 25 January, we speak to Nathan Lafayette about his creative journey, tackling imposter syndrome and more.

Back To The Lab 2020 course participants ‘walk in’ video. Dave Barros.

What does going ‘Back To The Lab’ involve?

It’s very much a learning process in the first week. You’re picking up a lot of information, which at times can be quite overwhelming, but also reassuring. A lot of it is about extending our palette in terms of the tools we work with, and sometimes focusing more on one specific tool. Using an analogy that Mikey J [Asante, composer and co-founder of hip-hop dance company Boy Blue Entertainment] shared on a previous artist development course: “Sometimes you want to work with the hammer.” Back To The Lab helps me understand what my hammer is. It’s been interesting finding out how we work, sparking different conversations and hearing people’s perspectives.

Course participants and mentors during a Back To The Lab workshop.

We’re in the second week of the programme. Could you tell us a bit about what you’re working on and what are you most looking forward to?

The second week is more work focused. It’s about building your piece to show. This being the second week, it feels like we have all these tools we can choose to use, but also, it’s like there’s no right way to do it. Whatever way works for you is the way to work.   

Course participants Youngung Sebastian Kim (l) and Paz ‘Cat’ Katrina Jimenez (r) during a Back To The Lab workshop.

I’m looking forward to moving and trying things out, even if it does mess up, or it doesn’t feel correct. It’s been a while since I’ve had the space to make decisions, so it’s a bit surreal. I always say when I’m teaching a class: if you find something you don’t like, then you’ve learned that and you know what direction you want to go in. It’s about having the space to refine what’s already there.

Course participants Youngung Sebastian Kim (l) and Paz ‘Cat’ Katrina Jimenez (r) during a Back To The Lab workshop.

I’m also really looking forward to seeing how I work in the studio with someone else, whose movement I love and whom I really love working with. But also seeing how we learn from each other.

What’s a valuable piece of advice you’ve received so far? How has it impacted and informed your approach to your work?

A bit of advice that was given to me for my own movement by Ivan [Blackstock, choreographer] is to find out what my 100% is. Also, something [choreographer] Jonathan Burrows said about ‘decorating’ your work made me think a lot more about that. How can I decorate my work? How little or how much can I say through movement? I feel like my movement is very slow and internal, so it’s about learning the opposite of what I usually do and not holding back.

Back To The Lab mentor Jonathan Burrows with course participants.

Can you share a personal highlight of the course?

Working with Saskia, the dancer I’m creating this duet with. She’s such a beautiful mover and thinker, and sometimes when we’re next to people like that, we can go into ourselves a bit. We’re always going to see more in other people than we see in ourselves. Having conversations with Saskia and hearing how she works, but also what she appreciates in my own movement, has given me that reassurance in realising what my ‘superpower’ is.

Course participants Nathan Lafayette (l) and Saskia Horton (r) during a Back To The Lab workshop.

Have there been any challenges?

Working through the self-doubt and self-awareness has been on my mind for the last couple of years. I can look around a room and think ‘Oh, that person is dope because of this or that’, but I don’t often feel dope for anything. I don’t know what my ‘thing’ is. I feel more comfortable knowing now that I have accumulated what I’ve accumulated, and whatever I’ve accumulated is what I am. In a way, we become a cross-stitch of all our influences and teachers. I am a product of everyone I’ve ever interacted with and everyone that has taught me before. It’s been nice to be able to step back and understand that a little bit more on the programme.

How are you feeling about the final sharing?

I’m actually not that anxious about it. I definitely feel like there’s a sense of levelling up but knowing that I’m working with Saskia makes me feel less nervous. Having someone in the room to bounce off [ideas] means a lot; it settles my mind.

Nathan Lafayette (l) and Saskia Horton (r).

I’m kind of excited. Of course, [as it happens] inside every artist you want people to like your work. The purpose of a piece isn’t necessarily to inform, but it would be nice to know that mine puts the audience in a state of thought. The work is called Player2 and is very much based on a world of energy, chemical reactions, magnetism and vibrations. How elements react and come together is a core part of it. It’s turned into something that is quite scientific, but it uses science as an analogy for relationships. It would be interesting to see the piece as a catalyst that gets the audience to think about the people they connect with.

Nathan Lafayette (l) and Saskia Horton (r).

Could you describe the Back To The Lab experience in a few words?

Reassuring. Comfortable. Open. Needed. I’m in London, performing on Saturday at Sadler’s Wells theatre! To know that I’m one of four choreographers whose work is going to be seen is surreal.  It’s a great opportunity, but again, I don’t feel the pressure to do it ‘right’. Coming from Birmingham and being a part of something that is as high-profile for the hip-hop dance community as Back To The Lab, I feel even more of a push to represent myself.

Nathan Lafayette (centre) during a Back To The Lab workshop.

Breakin’ Convention presents Back To The Lab is at Sadler’s Wells’ Lilian Baylis Studio on Saturday 25 January. Tickets are available here.

Images throughout: Dave Barros.

Sadler’s Wells Launches Young People’s Ticket Scheme

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our new young person’s ticket scheme, as part of a major partnership with Barclays.

Barclays Dance Pass offers £10 tickets to 16 to 30-year-olds registered with the scheme for all productions across our venues. These include Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the Lilian Baylis Studio in Islington, north London, and The Peacock theatre in the West End. The scheme will also apply to performances at our new mid-scale venue, opening in Stratford in 2022. Once registered, Barclays Dance Pass members will be able to purchase two tickets per production at no extra booking fee cost.

Registration to Barclays Dance Pass is free and can be completed via our website here: sadlerswells.com/barclaysdancepass

From today at 10am, Barclays Dance Pass holders will be able to book for shows in our Spring 2020 season, including Sadler’s Wells production Message In A Bottle by our Associate Artist Kate Prince, based on the songs of Sting, which runs at The Peacock from 6 February to 21 March. The season also features Drawn Lines, the latest in our Composer series, focusing on Nico Muhly; double bill The Rite of Spring/ common ground[s], a Sadler’s Wells, Pina Bausch Foundation and École des Sables Production; Lloyd Newson’s Enter Achilles, co-produced by Rambert and Sadler’s Wells; and UK premieres of works by Sadler’s Wells Associate Artists Crystal Pite and Michael Keegan Dolan.

To mark the launch of the scheme, Sadler’s Wells is offering the first 10 sign ups a pair of free tickets for the premiere of Message In A Bottle on 19 February.

The scheme makes available 10,000 tickets each year at £10 each, providing a wide range of new audiences with access to ground-breaking work and world-class artists – furthering our mission to make and share dance that inspires us all.

Barclays will also become Associate Partner of National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) for the next three years. Run by Sadler’s Wells and funded by the Department for Education and Arts Council England, NYDC creates and performs innovative and influential dance, bringing together the brightest talent from across England to work intensively with Sadler’s Wells’ renowned Associate Artists and visiting companies.

Since its creation in 2013, NYDC has worked with 2,800 young dancers, over 80% of whom have gone on to further dance training or professional work. New support from Barclays extends opportunities for talented young dancers from all areas and backgrounds to be part of the company and underlines NYDC’s commitment to artistry and accessibility.

Alistair Spalding, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells, said:

Young people are the dance artists and audiences of the future and we are committed to offering them access to the best dance from all over the world. I am delighted that our partnership with Barclays will help us grow the number of 16 to 30-year-olds enjoying our shows, while supporting young dancers to develop and perform on our stage and across the country.”

Tom Corbett, Head of Sponsorship at Barclays, said:

Barclays is proud to partner with Sadler’s Wells to extend opportunities to young people throughout the country. Over three years, Barclays Dance Pass will give 30,000 young people the opportunity to experience world-class dance at Sadler’s Wells, and our support will enable National Youth Dance Company to provide a diverse, talented group of young artists from across the country an unrivalled opportunity to jump-start their careers.”

MEET SADLER’S WELLS YOUNG ASSOCIATES 2020-21

We’re thrilled to announce Olive Hardy, Vidya Patel, John-William Watson and Magnus Westwell as our Sadler’s Wells Young Associates for 2020-21.

The artist development programme nurtures choreographers under the age of 25 over the course of two years. As part of it, the four artists will receive a tailored programme of professional development, including support with production time across our studios and theatres, advice and networking opportunities, as well as the opportunity to present their work.

The aim is to help the young artists take the crucial first step into their career as dance makers, enabling them to deepen their understanding of their own practice and gain valuable insight into dance production.

WELCOMING A NEW GENERATION OF DANCE MAKERS

London-born and Bristol-raised, Olive Hardy first started dancing for Rise Youth Dance and has performed with the company for most of her young adulthood. Her training began at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and she graduated from London Contemporary Dance School in 2019.

Olive Hardy (R) working with a dancer.

She has performed in works by choreographers Samir Kennedy, Leila McMillan, Rick Nodine and Seke Chimutengwende. Olive is interested in delving further into the creative and collaborative process of dance making and hopes to produce work that resonates with the people who experience it.

Olive Hardy working with dancers.

Vidya Patel comes from Birmingham. Her background is in Kathak, training under the guidance of Sujata Banerjee. After graduating from the Centre of Advanced Training at Birmingham DanceXchange, Vidya took part in the inaugural BBC Young Dancer 2015, where she was selected as the finalist for the South Asian category. She has since performed in international touring works created by critically acclaimed artists Sir Richard Alston, Gary Clarke, Thick & Tight and Akademi.

Vidya Patel working with dancer Connor Scott.

While continuing her Indian classical dance training, Vidya is looking to develop her own choreographic  practice.

Vidya Patel (R) working with dancer Connor Scott.

Born in Leeds, John-William Watson began his training at Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Youth Academy. During this time, he was also a member of National Youth Dance Company for two years and trained under the artistic direction of Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artists Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Michael Keegan-Dolan.

John-William Watson (R) working with a dancer.


He then moved to Belgium to study at The Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp. He was selected as the Wild Card finalist in the BBC Young Dancer 2017 competition. Returning to the UK, he is following his creative path within the world of absurd and often comedic dance theatre.

John-William Watson (R) working with a dancer.

Edinburgh-born interdisciplinary artist Magnus Westwell is a graduate from The Dance School of Scotland and Rambert School, where he was the recipient of a scholarship from the Veronica Bruce Memorial Trust. Magnus works at the intersection of music, movement and visual art. He is interested in placing contemporary performance art in a variety of different settings and his work has been shown at electronic music festivals, in theatres, clubs, churches and on BBC4.

Magnus Westwell (R) working with a dancer.

Magnus creates and mixes his own music, drawing inspiration from his background in traditional Scottish fiddle and his interest in left-field electronic music. He is the resident choreographer with multi-media collective SYNTREX.

Magnus Westwell (R) working with a dancer.

The Young Associates programme has been nurturing budding dance makers while bringing fresh and exciting new work to the fore since its launch in February 2018. Sadlers’ Wells’ inaugural Young Associates 2018-19 – Anthony Matsena, Wilhelmina Ojanen, Ruby Portus and Christopher Thomas – completed the programme in December. All continue to work on exciting upcoming projects, adding their talents to a new artistic generation of dance makers.

Images throughout: Camilla Greenwell.