Shama Rowland


This year’s hotly anticipated Flamenco Festival, back for the first time since 2019, celebrates rising stars and Flamenco legends. From traditional flair to flamenco with a twist! 

‘5 Things You Didn’t Know About Flamenco Festival’ Film © Dotdotdance.

With our annual Flamenco Festival kicking off this June, discover a further 15 things you may not already know about this unique art-form! 

1. It is widely believed that Flamenco actually originates from India! The roots, though somewhat mysterious, seem to lie in the Roma migration from Rajasthan (northwest India) to Spain between the 9th and 14th centuries.  

2. Flamenco dance is called ‘Baile’, while a flamenco dancer is known as a ‘Bailor’ (male) and ‘Bailaora’ (female). 

El Yiyo y su troupe.

3. The typical Flamenco outfit is called the ‘Traje de Flamenca’. Dresses are said to have a guitar shaped body, to enhance a woman’s figure. Heels are an essential and range from 4 – 7cm in height. They can also have special nails in the sole to enhance sound.  

4. ‘Duende’ is a term used to describe the ‘soul’ of Flamenco and a heightened sense of emotion that overtakes you. The term also describes an elf or goblin-like creature in Spanish mythology, where it is derived from.  

Gala Fiesta de la Buliería de Jurez.

5. ‘Palos’, which also means stick or branch refers to the different traditional music forms of Flamenco. There are more than 50 Palos, from Algerías to Bulerías.  

6. Castanets are not part of traditional Flamenco; they are an element that has been added to enhance finger snapping. These wooden percussion instruments are more than 3,000 years old and over time have become an iconic symbol of Spanish Flamenco.  

Manuel Liñan – ¡VIVA!

7. Flamenco is made up of four elements: Cante (voice), Baile (dance), Toque (guitar) and the Jaleo, which is roughly translates to mean ‘hell raising’ and involves the handclapping, foot stomping and shouts of encouragement.  

Compañia Maria Pages – An Ode to Time.

8. Silverio Franconetti Aguila, born in Seville in 1831, is considered a legendary singer of Flamenco and opened the famous Café Silverios. It became known as the top ‘Café Cantante’ in Spain during a golden age of Flamenco, where he invited only the most talented singers to perform and promoted only the purest forms of the art. 

Compañia Jesús Carmona – The Jump.

9. The ‘Cajón’ is another popular percussion instrument, originating from Peru, sometimes used in Flamenco performances. Legendary Spanish Flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía discovered the Cajón during one of his tours in America in the late 1970s and described the sound as ‘restrained to Flamenco’. 

Paula Comitre – Residency Sharing.

10. From 1920 to 1955, many Flamenco shows took place in bullrings and theatres, and became known as ‘Opera Flamenca’. A reason why this name became popular was because opera paid much lower rates of tax than Flamenco shows, so was more economical. 

Tomatito – In Concert.

11. One of Spain’s greatest writers, Federico Garcia Lorca, was a keen ambassador of the art-form. Two of his most important poetic works, ‘Poema del Cante Jondo’ and ‘Romancero Gitano’ show Lorca’s fascination with Flamenco and appreciation of Spanish folk culture.  

En Compañia: Daniel Ramos & Víctor Martín.

12. Rhythmic handclapping, known as ‘Palmas’, is an important part of Flamenco. There are two types: ‘Palmas Sordas’ and ‘Palmas Abiertas’ which use different parts of the hand to produce different sounds. 

Estrella Morente – In Concert.

13. Under the ‘Franco’ regime, Flamenco gained the status of a Spanish national symbol, while secret police simultaneously repressed any form of cultural dissent in lower-class neighbourhoods, illegalizing many Flamenco concerts and gatherings. 

Rocio Márquez and Bronquio – Tercer Cielo (Third Heaven).

14. In classical music theory, ‘Compás’ is the word used to describe the rhythm or time signature in Flamenco. Flamenco uses three basic counts or measures: Binary, Ternary and the (unique to flamenco) Twelve-Beat Cycle. 

15. The fastest flamenco dancer ever recorded danced 1,274 taps in one minute. 

Los Voluble – Flamenco is not a crime.

Flamenco Festival returns to Sadler’s Wells from Tuesday 21 June – Saturday 2 July 2022. 

For more information and tickets:  


Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage celebrates Black dance online, with a specially-curated programme of films, documentaries, podcasts and special guest features, for the Well Seasoned strand of programming.  

Launched in January 2022, Well Seasoned was designed by Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director Alistair Spalding, Jonzi D and Michelle Norton, respectively Artistic Director and Director of Breakin’ Convention, to platform work by both UK-based and international Black dance makers.  

After a number of sell-out stage performances in the spring, the focus turns to the new online programme over the summer.  

National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) & Guest Artistic Director Alesandra Seutin: Speak Volumes  

Speak Volumes is a short dance film made for camera. It follows on from the live performance created by the 29 dancers of the National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), in collaboration with Guest Artistic Director Alesandra Seutin. Set in a disused school building, Speak Volumes is an open floor for the voices of the younger ones of these times, a space for their existence and truth to be heard, acknowledged and experienced. 

A film by Ben Williams, cinematography by Zeta Spyraki.  

Alesandra Seutin, Guest Artistic Director of National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) said: ‘It’s great and not surprising that Sadler’s Wells is turning up the spotlight on Black artists this year with Well Seasoned. For me, it’s a necessity, because too many UK Black artists especially have been thriving here and not always acknowledged by main houses such as Sadler’s Wells and others. I am hoping this is only the seed to Black artists blooming and being acknowledged for being amazing beyond measure and their inspiring contribution to the world’. 

National Youth Dance Company & Alesandra Seutin – Speak Volumes Film Trailer. © Ben Williams, Zeta Spyraki. 

Moving Around The World – 6 International Short Films  

A selection of films by international artists tell extraordinary dance stories from around the world, including mini documentaries and dance made for screen.  

Each unique film represents Black dance artists from across the globe, from countries including South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, U.S.A and the Netherlands. 

Artists include: Rauf ‘RubberLegz’ Yasit, Christian Boley and Stéphanie Mwamba, Freddy Dojo, Roderick George, Breakin’ Convention (Colours and The Skeleton Mover).  

Collectively, these films show the power of dance to change lives, bring us closer together and create a universal language that speaks to us all. 

Breakin’ Convention, The Skeleton Movers (Soweto Skeleton Movers). © Ben Wachenje.

World Premieres – New Film Commissions  

From June to October 2022, Sadler’s Wells presents the world premieres of seven new short-film commissions, by the UK’s most exciting Black artists working in dance and film. They include Jonzi D, L’atisse Rhoden, House of Absolute, Ivan Michael Blackstock, Akeim Toussaint Buck, Alethia Antonia and Fubunation

They will be free to access for a limited period on Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage and YouTube channel. 

Ivan Michael Blackstock. © Ben Wachenje.

In Conversation With… Jonzi D 

Co-creator of Well Seasoned, an MC, dancer, spoken word artist and director, Jonzi D is the foremost advocate for hip hop, who has changed the profile and influenced the development of the UK British hip hop dance and theatre scene over the last two decades. Jonzi D is also an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells and is based at the theatre, with Breakin’ Convention.  

We speak to Jonzi D about his upcoming short film premieres and the key message he would like people to take away from the Well Seasoned Digital Stage programme.  

Can you tell us a little more about the short films you’ve created? 

Jonzi D: The first is OUR BODIES BACK. Featuring three Black women, filmed in different cities around the world. Choreographed to the soundscape of Soweto Kinch and the emotionally intense poetry of jessica Care moore. Ben Williams edited the material flawlessly. I made this during the height of the plandemic. My resistance to the lockdown, and then the murder of George Floyd made me determined to create and collaborate in earnest. I had never made a film before, but my iPhone shoots in 4K, so why not? 
AUTOCORRECT is the second instalment of a series of choreopoetry films. AUTOCORRECT follows a similar stylistic approach. Monochrome solos to the sounds of Soweto Kinch, but this time featuring three Black men interpreting the cerebral text of Saul Williams. Themes around patriarchy and power, sickness and social media. Saul’s work poses questions too devastating to answer. The dancers use their bodies to amplify the arguments. 
Drew in New York uses flexing, a technique from Brooklyn that explores dislocation and has roots in dancehall. Abdul in Entebbe fuses contemporary Ugandan dance with breaking. Theo in London specialises in Krump technique.

What key message do you want people to take after engaging in Well Seasoned? 

Jonzi D: We intend to normalise work from the African diaspora throughout our programming at Sadler’s Wells. Well Seasoned is highlighting the future vision of our brand, presenting world class arts and culture for the whole community.

Guests Select Online Series  

Sadler’s Wells hands over the mic in a new series called Guests Select. We ask leading Black UK-based artists to share the online works they’re passionate about and tell us what they mean to them. 

From new and innovative digital creations, to familiar movie masterpieces, Guests Select invites you into a specially-curated online space to discover, explore and feel inspired. 

Afrobeats dancer and choreographer Patience J; events curator, DJ and UK vogueing artist Jay Jay Revlon; and ballet dancer Precious Adams, share their selections. A further three artists share their top picks in the summer.   

Patience J. © Ben Wachenje.

Well Seasoned Podcast Series  

In July, a six-part new podcast series hosted by Brenda Emmanus, featuring conversation with Black creatives, explores how Black culture influences contemporary life, through conversations on dance, visual art, fashion, TV & film, theatre and music.  

Brenda Emmanus. © Rahil Ahmad.

In Conversation With… Brenda Emmanus OBE 

Brenda Emmanus has had a long and consistent career on national television. Her warm and versatile style has seen her switch comfortably between genres and broadcasters – from lifestyle, fashion, interior design and the arts, and she is the new podcast host for Sadler’s Wells’ Well Seasoned Podcast.  

We speak to Brenda about why the podcast is important to her to host, key messages she would like people to take away after listening and what she is most excited to see from the Well Seasoned Digital Stage programme.  

Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do? 


I have been a Journalist and Broadcaster for my entire career. Majority of the time was spent working for the BBC; first as a Researcher and Reporter and gradually working my way up to becoming an Arts, Culture and Entertainment Correspondent, working for BBC News and making arts documentaries for BBC 2, BBC 4 and BBC World. Since leaving the BBC, I have carved out a portfolio career. 

I now have a production company and consultancy: Free Spirit Productions Ltd. I am Chair of the Board for Sir Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures Company, on the Editorial Board for the Royal Academy Magazine, a Non-Executive Director at Faber Publishers, work as a Creative Content and Editorial Consultant on the West End Production of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ for Sonia Friedman Productions, and currently making a programme on African Fashion for the BBC, in collaboration with the V&A. 

Why is the Well Seasoned podcast important for you to host? 


I have always loved my work, and I feel utterly privileged to spend my time amongst the world’s great creatives and minds. I am fascinated by discovering the process and craft of artists, dancers, painters, architects, authors – anyone who creates. Having said this, I also recognise that there are many areas of the arts where diversity and inclusion are still a challenge. Any Black or Brown person that reaches a high level of achievement, has had to overcome significant personal and professional challenges. I know this, having spent my time around so many and talking to them. 

I have also been inspired by those that have had an impact on the mainstream. I see the Well Seasoned podcast as an opportunity for everyone to discover more about this broad range of diverse talent and hear about their journeys, their opinions on their area of the arts, and those that have inspired them. This is a chance to hear about the arts from a Black perspective – it’s not divisive – it is an opportunity to share stories with everyone, to give a platform to some formidable talent and to celebrate the arts.  We also have some wonderful, specially-commissioned spoken word tributes to each area of the arts that we cover, from some extraordinary poets and spoken word artists. 

What key message do you want people to take away after listening to the podcast episodes? 

Brenda: That the arts are an essential part of all our lives. That the arts are for everyone. That there are some brilliant Black creatives, artists and performers who have some inspiring, insightful, and profound things to share, with not just their fans, but with the world. The creatives featured are Black and have all attracted a broad audience who love their work. All have excelled at what they do, and we all collectively want to see the arts scene, both practitioners and audiences, reflect the world that we live in.

What are you most excited to see in the Well Seasoned Digital Stage programme?  

Brenda: Obviously, I am biased as I am presenting the podcast, but I am deeply excited to view the next generation of choreographers. Moving Around The World is genius and Guests Select has me jumping for joy and is complimentary to what we are doing with Kiss My Black Side; giving Black UK-based artists a platform to share the works they are passionate about. To be honest, what’s not to like about the whole of the Well Seasoned Digital Stage programme.

‘Exploring Black Dance with Well Seasoned’ Film.

Key Dates What’s On 
Available now  National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) Speak Volumes Film  
Available now, and more in the summer   Guests Select Online Series  
Available from 6 June, for 2 years   World Premieres – New Film Commissions  
Available now, until 31 October  Moving Around The World – 6 International Short Films  
Available from July  Well Seasoned Podcast Series

All content is free to access.



One year ago today, Sadler’s Wells opened its doors again after lockdown.

Sadler’s Wells’ one year re-opening anniversary since the COVID lockdown

For many of us, art was a chance to escape the everyday and celebrate human creativity and resilience.  

Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director & Chief Executive Alistair Spalding and Executive Director Britannia Morton share a letter:  

Dear Sadler’s Wells audience, 

Remember lockdown?  

A year ago today, Sadler’s Wells re-opened after the pandemic which impacted our industry, our artists and our audiences. What a year! 

This week, we went on sale for 27 amazingly diverse new shows and we take a pause and give thanks to all our teams, the companies, artists, audiences and supporters. It’s a signal that we made it through the toughest challenges we’ve faced in our long history, that we are back at full strength on all our stages, and that more than ever, we believe in dance and the power of live performance to celebrate the magic of humanity. And to give us a great night out!  

On behalf of all of us at Sadler’s Wells – thank YOU. It’s not always easy in these uncertain times, but if you had any doubt… we’re really back! 

Best wishes 

Alistair & Britannia 

Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director & Chief Executive Sir Alistair Spalding and Executive Director Britannia Morton on site at the Sadler’s Well’s fourth venue Sadler’s Wells East, May 2022
Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director & Chief Executive Sir Alistair Spalding and Executive Director Britannia Morton on site at the Sadler’s Well’s fourth venue Sadler’s Wells East, May 2022

We hope that you will come and make new memories with us this year. Without you, we would not be able to celebrate our new season of 27 shows.  

Sadler’s Wells’ summer & autumn season – new shows on sale now

Discover your next favourite show here:  


Sadler’s Wells strengthens leadership team with appointment of Rob Jones to new role of Associate Artistic Director

After an international search, Sadler’s Wells today announces the appointment of UK-based creative innovator Rob Jones to the new role of Associate Artistic Director. He begins his role at Sadler’s Wells in August 2022. 

Rob Jones is currently Senior Festival Producer with Dance Umbrella in London and brings a wealth of experience of delivering engaging multidisciplinary performance projects to diverse audiences. 

Reporting to Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding, the role leads the programming team and is responsible for specific programming initiatives as the organisation prepares to open its fourth venue, Sadler’s Wells East in 2023. He will work closely with the team of Artistic Advisors who are assisting Sadler’s Wells with programming work from Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia, as well as work by D/deaf and disabled artists and work for children and families. 

Rob Jones is a multi-artform producer and programmer who specialises in cross art form projects, festivals, participation and contemporary performance. Over the past 13 years he has worked with Battersea Arts Centre (BAC), The Albany, World Stages London, Roundhouse and Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival. He is currently Senior Festival Producer at Dance Umbrella. He is also Creative Producer for Brownton Abbey, an Afro futurism-inspired international performance collective, which centres and elevates Queer disabled people of colour. 

Alistair Spalding said: ‘I’m delighted to welcome Rob Jones to the outstanding creative team at Sadler’s Wells as our Associate Artistic Director. He brings some distinctly new programming skills and a track record of producing excellent work which attracts and engages a diverse audience’.

Rob Jones commented: ‘I am excited to be joining the team at Sadler’s Wells at a pivotal moment in the organisation’s development. Sadler’s is famous for its incredible legacy and its achievements bringing a huge range of dance to UK audiences, and I look forward to new adventures ahead working both with artists and communities to build on this legacy’.


Today is Earth Day! We wanted to mark this day by sharing our sustainability mission and goals.  

Earth Day is an annual event which marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970, to demonstrate support for environmental protection.  

Sadler’s Wells takes part in Earth Day and Earth Hour yearly and is as an important part of our commitment to work towards a greener future.  

Earth Hour is a symbolic lights out event organised by WWF, uniting individuals, schools, businesses, landmarks and public building across the globe, to focus attention on protecting the planet. 

Each year, we switch off all external lights, including architectural lighting of the building and signage, between 8:30 pm and 9:30 pm. Joining Earth Hour is one of many initiatives undertaken by Sadler’s Wells in a drive to increase the sustainability of the building and its operations. We are committed to reducing our energy demand, CO2 emissions and waste consumption across all departments.  

This is How You Will Disappear by Gisele Vienne stage set; putting nature centre stage. © Lucy Colomb.

Sustainability at Sadler’s Wells 

Sadler’s Wells stages dance productions in the UK and around the world, and we acknowledge our responsibility as a cultural leader in the arts. We proactively address the challenges set by our activities and have a targeted action plan that frames all aspects of our work. 

Our sustainability policy aims are to continue to improve current environmental performance by reducing the impact of our activities on the environment, as well as educating and increasing environmental awareness amongst colleagues and audiences to promote sustainability. 

Q&A with Sadler’s Wells Director of Visitor Experience & leader of the Green Team

We spoke to Howard Clark; Director of Visitor Experience & leader of the Green Team on all the ways in which Sadler’s Wells is acting sustainably and why it’s so important:  

Why is sustainability important to Sadler’s Wells? 

Howard: As a cultural leader in the arts, we have a responsibility to be as sustainable as possible and to support the awareness of climate change in the sector. We have an environmental policy which is supported by an action plan and set against KPIs, and we review this annually. We are constantly making improvements across the organisation.  

Why does Sadler’s Wells celebrate Earth Day? 

Howard: We play a major part within an international community and recognise the need for global change. There has a been a great shift in the last few years on more awareness of climate change and we need to demonstrate how we are making improvements, especially as we have a new venue opening in 2023. There will be more impact on our environmental footprint, so we realise we need to strive to keep this footprint as low as possible. Earth Day is a moment for us to demonstrate our commitments and to raise awareness on a wider scale.  

What are some of the ways Sadler’s Wells is being sustainable?  

Howard: We commit to environmental practice every day. We have made changes to certain sustainability elements of the organisation, for example, reducing the use of single use plastics and we use recyclable materials in print programmes. Also, when you come to Sadler’s Wells, if you use our toilets, then we use the borehole underneath Sadler’s Wells to supply our water to these and support our temperature control. We have a procurement policy which supports our purchasing processes and sourcing strategies, and we aim to work with companies and organisations that follow good environmental practices.  

What is Sadler’s Wells’ long-term sustainability goal?  

Howard: Ultimately, we would like to be a net zero organisation, but we recognise this is a journey. It all comes down to the improvements we make for the long-term. By educating colleagues, visitors and artists, we allow this journey to be bigger than just the organisation and we truly believe this is the way we can reach our long-term goals. We have made great sustainable changes already, but we need to keep moving forward and thinking about the next steps.  

What are you most proud of in this journey? 

Howard: The strides we’ve made, especially since the pandemic. We have been forward thinking about the organisation, as well as the community and this is something to be proud of. We have been awarded for our work, for example, our five-star Creative Green rating for environmental best practice and we have made long-term connections in the industry, with organisations who are on the same journey. Together we can all make a change.  

Ways We Are Acting Sustainably 

We’re working towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and have a commitment in place to keep us focused. Our dedicated Green Team make sure we keep improving and they are always looking for more ways we can reduce our impact on the environment. 

Our theatres 

  • We use plastic reusable cups in our bars instead of single-use plastic and encourage performers to use water fountains backstage rather than providing bottled water 
  • All our packaging is biodegradable, and plant based 
  • We use the borehole underneath Sadler’s Wells to supply our sinks, toilets, and temperature control 
  • We use LED lights throughout our foyer spaces, the theatre auditorium, and backstage areas 
  • We use renewable sources to generate 100% of our electricity 
  • Our solar panels produce an average of around 17,000 kilowatt hours per year – enough to power two family homes for a year 

Our activities 

  • We take part in the Earth Hour campaign every year, by switching off our external lights  
  • We’ve developed Green Riders for visiting companies and our touring productions 
  • We’re part of the Spotlight Programme – 29 cultural institutions working across England to drive down the environmental impacts of our activities 
  • We reduce the amount of paper we use with a paperless invoicing system 

A few things we’re proud of 

  • Being part of the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement 
  • Our five-star Creative Green rating for environmental best practice 
  • Being a member of the Islington Sustainable Energy Partnership 
  • Our 5/5 rating in the Creative Green certification by Julie’s Bicycle 
Sadler’s Wells Reusable Cup.

Colleague Sunflower Campaign

Our Green Team invited colleagues to take part in the Sadler’s Wells Sunflower Challenge throughout April and grow a sunflower to mark Earth Day. We wanted to raise more awareness on environmental matters among colleagues and chose a sunflower growing competition, that is fun and sets some challenges amongst our teams. The centre of a sunflower is made of lots of little flowers and the seeds can be harvested and eaten after the sunflower has grown. The sunflower is also the national flower of Ukraine, where we share our support. The competition winner for the tallest sunflower wins gardening vouchers! 

The campaign has been a great initiative and colleagues have been able to get involved in Earth Day by planting their own sunflowers. Some colleagues have enjoyed getting their children involved in watering and looking after the flower too, so it has allowed the awareness to go beyond just colleagues and Sadler’s Wells Theatre’s, but into their homes too! 

Shama Rowland’s Sunflower. 

Arts Council England Report 

Arts Council England remains committed to delivering on Environmental Responsibility, as set out in its 10-year strategy, Let’s Create. Sadler’s Wells is proud to be a contributor to this year’s Arts Council England Environmental Responsibility annual report, in partnership with Julie’s Bicycle. This report marks 10 years of collaboration between Arts Council England and Julie’s Bicycles, within the arts & culture sector.  

The latest annual report shows how arts & culture organisations continued to innovate, to reduce environmental impact, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.   

Arts Council England continues to support organisations whilst navigating out of the pandemic, towards a ‘green’ recovery and to ensure a sustainable future for the creative sector. 

Arts Council England and Julie’s Bicycle: What can culture do to meet the climate challenge?

As a cultural organisation, we embrace the role we play in the conversation around climate change and are fully aligned with the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. We will continue to work on our sustainability mission and be an advocate for sustainable creative organisations.  


We believe everyone should have access to dance. So, we’re making our venues and experiences more accessible to more people! 

Sadler’s Wells is delighted to present accessible work through our Access for All Scheme for people with physical, sensory or cognitive disabilities. Since 2019, Sadler’s Wells has made big improvements to our access offering, increasing our access performances massively in 2022.

Sadler’s Wells offers a range of accessible performances including audio described performances, BSL-interpreted performances, relaxed performances and captioned performances across all our theatres; Sadler’s Wells Theatre, the Lilian Baylis Studio, Peacock Theatre and on Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage.  

We have a fantastic Access Working Group which is open to all colleagues at Sadler’s Wells. The aim of the group is to support the development of best practice in relation to Access across the work of Sadler’s Wells, to offer high quality experience to all D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people. We’re committed to continued learning and upskilling as a team in accessibility best practice, and to testing new approaches. 

During the pandemic between 2020-2021, Sadler’s Wells presented 63 access events, including a relaxed performance of Nutcracker! presented in collaboration with Mousetrap Theatre Productions and New Adventures. So far, there are 27 access performances scheduled for 2022, with many more to be announced.  

Matthew Bourne’s The Nutcracker! © Catherine Ashmore 

We’re very grateful to all who attend Sadler’s Wells productions and are proud to offer accessible performances. Regular patrons, Janee Hall and Martin Glover reflect on their experiences of accessible performances at Sadler’s Wells:  

Janee Hall said: ‘I’ve been coming to Sadler’s Wells since the late 80s, I’ve always been visually impaired, and it’s been phenomenal to see how access has evolved and progressed. The AD opportunity makes the experience come alive for me. I also think that the staff are fantastic at Sadler’s. It’s invaluable when we are able to go on touch tours and get an idea of the on stage props, set and get a chance to see what the lighting states will be like. The AD offerings are great because they are increasing. It’s really important to get the diversity across different types of shows. Now I get to pick and choose what I get to see!’ 

Martin Glover said: ‘I am so grateful to Sadler’s Wells to be able to take part in different dance activities, because usually in our everyday lives we wouldn’t usually be able to. We are encouraged to take part by Sadler’s Wells, and so we do. Whilst some parts aren’t as easily accessible for the deaf community such as the music, watching the dance is brilliant. I’ve seen quite a few different dance styles at Sadler’s Wells, most are great and others not to my taste, but I really enjoy the diversity and variety on what is on offer to us’.  

More information on Sadler’s Wells’ Accessible Performances: 

Digital Stage & Website

We create and curate a programme of dance performances, films and experiences, so no matter where you are in the world, you can explore world-class dance online.  

Since the launch of our new website in September 2021, accessibility on Digital Stage and on the website has been the key focus.  

  • All new Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage works are offered with audio description 
  • All video content includes subtitles and captions  
  • We have introduced user-testing on the website and Digital Stage to improve accessibility  
  • Has an access filter on the What’s On page, enabling users to easily identify accessible performances 
Company of Elders in Relive. Audio Description available on Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage. © Dan Martin & Amy Wildgoose 

Assisted Performances

Audio Described Performances  

During a performance, a professional Audio Describer explains what’s happening on stage. They talk through all the visual information: sets, costumes, facial expressions and visual jokes. You can listen along to the description through a headset.  

Touch Tours 

Before the performance, you can go on a touch tour. The Audio Describer will take you backstage, or onto the stage itself, to feel costumes and pieces of the set and learn about the production.  

British Sign Language (BSL) Performances 

Our BSL performances are interpreted by a BSL signer. They use sign language to communicate what is sung and/or spoken by artists on stage. All our post-show talks are interpreted by a BSL signer. 

Relaxed Performances  

A relaxed performance is a more laidback theatre experience. The environment is made more comfortable for people on the autistic spectrum, or anyone with sensory or communication needs.  

To create a more supportive environment, we: 

  • Keep the house lights on throughout the performance
  • Lower the sound levels  
  • Provide a designated chill out area 
  • Create a visual story that includes details about the narrative, characters and what to expect from the performance and the theatre experience. You can find them at the bottom of the show pages 
  • Offer ear defenders, available at the front desk  

Captioned Performances and Subtitling 

A captioned performance includes captioning, which is text that describes what’s happening on stage. At a captioned performance, the text is displayed on LED screens near or on the stage. We use subtitling at our show talks to make sure people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing can enjoy them. A speech-to-text reporter transcribes the speaker’s words so you can follow what is said and join in the discussion afterwards.  

The scheme is free to join and offers discounts and information about upcoming shows at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Peacock Theatre and Lilian Baylis Studio. 

Director of Learning and Engagement, Joce Giles said: ‘We are delighted to have improved our access offering so greatly across the past year. We acknowledge there is still lots more that can be done, and we look forward to developing our skills, offering and equipment further to ensure as many people are able to enjoy dance‘.


Do you ever feel the urge to dance but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a series of dance workshops that guide you through the basics in 5-minute sessions – no experience required.  

Sadler’s Wells is proud to announce the launch of our Taster Dance Workshops. This series of workshops introduces you to dance, allows you to experience different dance styles and get creative.  

During the Taster Dance Workshops, a range of creative and experienced artists will whiz you through some key moves to give you a flavour of different dance styles. 


Level: Beginners – Advanced 

Breaking might look intimidating, but when you start slow and break it down, you’d be amazed at what you can do with a bit of practice. We’re taking you on a crash course in some key breaking moves!  

This series of workshops is led by Roy, Niek, Stepper and Lee, also known as The Ruggeds; a breakdance crew from The Netherlands, who compete in battles and appear on stages all over world. You might recognise them from Justin Bieber’s Where Are Ü Now music video. 

Breaking Workshop – Knee Drop & Corkscrew

Breaking is a form of hip hop dance that includes acrobatics, freezes, floor moves, fast footwork and power moves. It grew from the African American and Latino communities, rooted in the funk, soul, R&B and disco music of the 1970s, but has been adapted to many musical genres, often performed with a DJ to an up-tempo beat.  


Level: Beginners 

In this series, Liam, who has been a dancer with one of the UK’s leading contemporary dance companies, Rambert, is joined by participants Soraya and Betsy to explore some key aspects of contemporary dance – curving, arching, spiralling and balance. There’s also a chance to use your creativity and imagination through guided improvisation! 

Contemporary Workshop – Improvisation

Contemporary dance is an art form that encourages creative freedom and artistic expression. It’s an interpretative style that can sometimes focus on conveying a feeling, a mood or an abstract concept. Contemporary dance covers a wide range of approaches and techniques and can look very different depending on the dancer or choreographer. 


Level: Beginners

Magdalena and Noemí from Dotdotdot Dance give us a taste of flamenco, accompanied by participants Ghazal, Kate and Omena. 

We encourage you to enjoy the movement and have fun, without worrying about copying the moves perfectly. All of these workshops are suitable for beginners, and some can be done standing or seated. 

Flamenco Workshop – Arm Movements

With its origins in Gypsy culture of southern Spain, flamenco is a deeply passionate dance style, known for its hand clapping (Palmas) and foot stamping (Zapateado), with live singers and Spanish guitar often accompanying the dancers. 


Level: Beginners 

Our workshop leader Anuradha from Drishti Dance will give you a speedy introduction to some of the key techniques involved in kathak dance, including the footwork, hand movements and spins, plus you can try out a short sequence of choreography. She is joined by Stephen, from our Company of Elders, to help demonstrate the moves. 

Kathak Workshop – Hands

Kathak is a north Indian classical dance form that is rooted in the ancient art of storytelling in temples by bards, called Kathakars. It is often performed to percussion or string instruments. The dance style can be used to tell stories through movement, with hand gestures carrying many meanings. Elegant footwork and spins are key characteristics of this dance style. 

Coming soon… 

There will be four new genres of dance workshops being launched mid March: Ballet, Afrofusion, Vogue and Commercial. Be sure to come back and check out the new workshops!

We hope you have a great time with these workshops! Happy dancing! 

These workshops are designed to ensure something for all ages and abilities. Whether you’re taking part alone or with others, just make sure you warm up your body, do some stretches first and find the joy in movement. 

Some workshops involve floorwork, or a higher level of physical fitness, so have a browse at the link above and choose the ones that feel most comfortable for you.  


Happy 2022! We’re extremely excited for this year at Sadler’s Wells, where we continue to showcase wonderful projects and productions, build relationships and bring joy to our visitors, participants, artists, communities and audience members, in our venues, on tour and abroad. 

Kicking off 2022, Sadler’s Wells is proud to announce Well Seasoned, Celebrating Black Dance. 

Well Seasoned was designed by Sadler’s Wells’ Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding and Artistic Director of Breakin’ Convention Jonzi D, to platform work by both UK-based and international Black dancemakers. 

Jonzi D said: ‘Well Seasoned is a flava full celebration of work from the African diaspora and beyond. As a statement of intent, we want to present the artistic diversity of People of Colour, particularly from the Black community. Our programme will reflect London’s cultural melting pot. A nourishing blend of local and global dance theatre makers, presenting work that is vibrant, challenging and delicious!’ 

Alistair Spalding said: ‘We wanted to highlight dance made by Black artists to celebrate them and to share with our existing and new audiences that this is happening at Sadler’s Wells. This is not a one off but an indication of a direction of travel for our venues and you will see more of the work of these amazing performers and choreographers in future seasons. We hope this selection of works in Well Seasoned gives a taste of the wonderful variety of dance being created by Black artists in the UK and beyond’. 

Well Seasoned includes work by Anthony and Kel Matsena, L’atisse Rhoden, Johannes Radebe and Breakin’ Convention, as well as Sadler’s Wells Production TRAPLORD by Ivan Michael Blackstock, and Botis Seva’s BLKDOG on tour, co-produced by Sadler’s Wells. 

Botis Seva said: ‘It’s great to see Sadler’s Wells upholding its promise to platform and champion more artists of colour in its programming, it finally reflects the breadth of ideas and artists in the UK and beyond! The artists featured as part of Well Seasoned are not just change makers of colour but they are change makers full stop! We’ve still got a way to go, but Well Seasoned is certainly a huge acknowledgement of the need for inclusivity and better visibility’. 

L’atisse Rhoden said: ‘Shining a light on Black dance artists allows new audiences to experience their work. It also acts as a much-needed voice in theatre when sharing opportunities can be limited for Black creatives’. 

Wild Card: Akeim Toussaint Buck – Radical Visions  

Wild Card returns with more offerings from a new generation of artists, invited to curate their own night. This January, Sadler’s Wells welcomes Akeim Toussaint Buck to the Lilian Baylis Studio to present his Wild Card, Radical Visions, featuring live music, film and powerful performance.   

Co-produced by Sadler’s Wells and Akeim Toussaint Buck.

In front of an altar and stained glass window, Akeim Toussaint Buck leaps towards us, left leg lifted straight in front, right arm extended in a high diagonal. His long locks fly straight up above his head. His chest and feet are bare and he wears loose, layered white trousers with intricate black embroidery that echoes the rich patterns of the church interior.
Wild Card: Akeim Toussaint Buck – Radical Visions. © Ashley Karrell

Dance Consortium presents Acosta Danza – 100% Cuban 

International ballet superstar Carlos Acosta’s critically acclaimed Cuban company Acosta Danza has garnered an unrivalled reputation for creating work that combines both classical and contemporary genres effortlessly, infused with Cuba’s rich musical and dance influences.  

Acosta Danza is a Sadler’s Wells International Associate Company.

A young black woman with a shaved head wears a sky-blue sleeveless dress with a full skirt that falls to the floor. Her body forms a dynamic zigzag: balancing on the ball of her left foot, with the knee bent, right hip swung out as she twists upwards to look at her right hand, palm to the sky above her head.
Dance Consortium presents Acosta Danza – 100% Cuban. © Manuel Vason

Ivan Michael Blackstock – TRAPLORD  

Award-winning dance artist and cultural innovator Ivan Michael Blackstock’s TRAPLORD is an immersive dance performance meditating on life, death and rebirth. Wandering between dreams and reality, TRAPLORD takes us on a new heroic journey to self-actualisation. 

Sadler’s Wells x 180 Studios. A co-production with The Factory and ALTRUVIOLET. Supported by Cockayne – Grants for the Arts and the Maria Bjornson Memorial Fund. Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Seven young men are gathered around a black car which sits on a bed of pink and white flowers, like a tribute for a funeral. The men wear black hoodies, combat trousers and puffa jackets. One, with large rabbit ears coming from his hood, has a wide, relaxed smile; another holds a latex pig mask. The men’s faces are painted a dark, metallic black, contrasting with the warm brown tones of the skin on their necks and hands.
Ivan Michael Blackstock – TRAPLORD. © Glodi Miessi 

Phoenix Dance Theatre – 40 Years of Phoenix 

Sadler’s Wells National Partner Company Phoenix Dance Theatre celebrates its 40th birthday with a range of work from across its illustrious history. The programme features five pieces by internationally acclaimed, award-winning choreographers, including former Artistic Directors and collaborators.  

Featuring Pave Up Paradise from Lost Dog (Ben Duke and Raquel Meseguer); Darshan Singh Bhuller’s Heart of Chaos; Signal by Henri Oguike; Jane Dudley’s 1938 masterpiece, Harmonica Breakdown; and Family, choreographed by Shapiro & Smith.  

Phoenix Dance Theatre is a Sadler’s Wells National Partner Company.

Phoenix Dance Theatre – 40 Years of Phoenix. © Foteini Christofilopoulou 

Johannes Radebe – Freedom  

Strictly Come Dancing sensation and international champion, Johannes Radebe, comes to the Peacock Theatre for the London premiere of his debut tour, Freedom.  

This is a celebration of the dances that you love, with Johannes’ signature flair and energy. From ballroom to Latin, the company will perform to classic dance arrangements, South African rhythms and party anthems. Johannes will take you on his journey from growing up in South Africa, to travelling the world, winning competitions and starring in Strictly’s most memorable numbers.

A dancer leaps towards us in mid-air, against a sandy background spattered with red and brown pigment. His legs and midriff are bare, and he wears a loincloth and large collarpiece, both of leopardskin decorated with triangles of coloured beads. A matching beaded headband has long feathers sprouting from the top. He holds a staff topped with a large knob decorated with beads and feathers.
Johannes Radebe – Freedom.

Breakin’ Convention 22 International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre 

Sadler’s Wells’ annual festival of hip hop dance theatre is back for its 19th year, platforming cutting-edge dance rooted in the streets and presented on stage. 

Expect bright lights, loud music and colourful costumes coming together in an annual Sadler’s Wells event that will excite and entertain the whole family. 

Breakin’ Convention is far more than just a show – arrive early for activities in the foyers, including live DJs, dance circles, have-a-go graffiti, popular improvisation-based warm-up show Freestyle Funk Forum, workshops with the artists and much more. 

Line-up to be announced spring 2022. For more information, see 

Breakin’ Convention 22 International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre. © Belinda Lawley 

Matsena Productions / House of Absolute – Shades of Blue / Warrior Queens 

Experience first-hand the next generation of leading London choreographers in this double bill which touches on both a social movement and cultural heritage.  

Shades of Blue is a work from Matsena Productions that beats to the tune of change, lasting change, systematic change - in which performance and protest clash and mould together.   

The work combines thunderous choreography, powerful text and a slick score that will not only make you rethink your position in society but celebrate a stronger future which we all have a part in building.   

Matsena Productions / House of Absolute – Shades of Blue / Warrior Queens.

L’atisse Rhoden – L CASA 

Sadler’s Wells New Wave Associate L’atisse Rhoden presents a night of new digital works. 

Inspired by personal narratives and shifting perspectives, Bom Dia! and Dutopia both explore the contrast between reality and dream-like surrealist worlds.  

As part of the evening, L’atisse invites NAVA LDN to curate NAVA Café. Designed by Russell Royer, this pop-up brings communities together in a comfortable and collaborative environment, through a shared love of hip hop and neo soul. L’atisse is co-founder of NAVA LDN alongside Stefan X.   

Expect beats, moves and good vibes.  

L’atisse Rhoden – L CASA.

Impact Dance – Chapter 25+1 

Impact Dance returns to the Peacock Theatre for Chapters 25+1. Join one of the UK’s most innovative dance organisations in celebrating their 26-year journey with a night of bite-sized extracts of excellence inspired by hip hop culture.   

Featuring: ACE Youth, BOP Jazz Theatre Company, Boy Blue, Far From The Norm, FFI of Impact Dance, Fusions Elite, Impact Youth, Myself UK Dance, REDO (HOL), Reading School of Dance, The Urdang ACS, and ZooNation Youth Company.   

Impact Dance – Chapter 25+1. © Gorm Ashurst Photography

On tour… Botis Seva’s BLKDOG  

BLKDOG is Botis Seva’s Olivier award-winning haunting commentary on surviving adulthood as a childlike artist. A genre-defying blend of hip hop dance and free form antics, BLKDOG explores the inner battlefield of an ageing artist trying to retain his youth.    

With music from long standing collaborator Torben Lars Sylvest and performed by Botis’ powerhouse company Far From The Norm, BLKDOG searches for coping mechanisms in the ultimate hunt for acceptance.

A Sadler’s Well’s Co-production. BLKDOG is touring internationally with dates in the USA as well as the UK, including dates in Nottingham, Oxford, Poole, Saffron Walden and Guildford.

In a white-painted, institutional corridor with barred windows, a dancer spirals in mid air, both feet off the ground, one leg and one arm extended straight behind him. He wears loose trousers and his chest is bare. A quilted hood is drawn up tightly around his face and his expression is strained.
Botis Seva’s BLKDOG. © Camilla Greenwell

Coming soon… NYDC 2022 – Alesandra Seutin 

Following the success of 2021’s Speak Volumes, National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) once again collaborates with internationally renowned choreographer Alesandra Seutin. 

33 outstanding young dancers present a new contemporary work, exploring the relationship between movement, voice and music. 

NYDC has established a reputation for producing high-quality, critically acclaimed productions by leading choreographers including Botis Seva, Russell Maliphant, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Sharon Eyal, Damien Jalet, Michael Keegan-Dolan, Akram Khan and Jasmin Vardimon

National Youth Dance Company is run by Sadler’s Wells and supported using public funding by Department for Education and Arts Council England.

NYDC 2022 – Alesandra Seutin. © Stephen Wright Photography.

Akeim Toussaint Buck, Acosta Danza, TRAPLORD, Phoenix Dance Theatre, BLKDOG and Johannes Radebe are already on sale. 

Breakin’ Convention, Matsena Productions / House of Absolute, L’atisse Rhoden and Impact Dance are on sale from Monday 31 January at 10 am via

NYDC will be on sale at a later date, to be confirmed. 

Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage will feature exclusive commissions and world premieres celebrating and profiling Black dance in an exciting programme online. Details to be announced. 


Alistair Spalding CBE, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells, has been awarded a Knighthood for Services to Dance in the New Year Honours. 

Alistair Spalding has been the Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells Theatre since 2004 and is currently overseeing the construction of a fourth venue, Sadler’s Wells East, opening in 2023.  

Under Alistair Spalding’s leadership, Sadler’s Wells has become one of the most respected dance institutions in the world, presenting an ambitious programme of cutting-edge dance in all its forms and hosting world-class national and international companies and artists. 

Sir Matthew Bourne:

‘Sir Alistair is the UK’s foremost champion of dance in its many forms. As Artistic Director of Sadler’s Wells – one of the world’s foremost dance organisations – he has overseen a golden age of exciting developments in contemporary dance in particular and has served as a mentor to several generations of world class choreographers whose work has been commissioned and brought to prominence under his inspired leadership. My own collaboration with Alistair has been a mainstay of his time at Sadler’s Wells and I’m proud to have been part of the ongoing success story of this beloved theatre – Bravo Sir Alistair! A much-deserved honour! Long may you continue at The Wells!’

With its historic Islington base and a West End platform at Peacock Theatre, Sadler’s Wells’ London theatres attract audiences of over half a million each year, with many more visiting its internationally touring productions or exploring its digital platforms. 

Spalding’s vision and commitment has always been to discover and nurture new talent. In 2005, he created the Associate Artists programme which represents some the most exciting artists working in dance today. 

Botis Seva: 

‘Alistair is such an ambitious and inclusive leader; he takes the risks without knowing if they will pay off but undoubtedly believes in either the artist or the work. I can’t thank him enough for the support and encouragement he has shown me during my career; because of him, Sadler’s Wells feels more like a homecoming than a building – congratulations Alistair, here is to the next chapter’. 

Alistair Spalding, sitting on Sadler’s Wells Theatre stage.

He has also launched projects such as the international festival of hip-hop dance theatre, Breakin’ Convention, and the Flamenco Festival London, as well as inviting New Adventures, Company Wayne McGregor and ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company to become Sadler’s Wells’ Resident Companies and English National Ballet Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Company. He was instrumental in initiating Sadler’s Wells and Universal Music UK’s production of Sting’s Message In A Bottle, created by Kate Prince, for the West End and plans an ambitious international tour for 2022/3.  

Under Spalding’s direction, Sadler’s Wells has now embarked on the most significant development in its history: the creation of Sadler’s Wells East to support the next generation of artist development and training, and the creation of dynamic new work. Opening in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2023, the new venue is part of the East Bank development along with the BBC, University of the Arts London College of Fashion, University College London and V&A East. 

Sadler’s Wells East will be permanent home to the Hip Hop Theatre Academy and Choreographic School and will build the infrastructure for dance to make it accessible to more people. Community will be at the heart of the new development, with a large open foyer that can be used by everyone, as a meeting or performance space. There will also be dance studios and world-class dance facilities for dancemakers to train, create and rehearse productions. The project will touch the lives of everyone living on, working in and visiting the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. 

Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director, English National Ballet: 

‘The impact of Alistair in the UK dance scene cannot be underestimated. His foresight in recognising chorographic talent and determination in supporting creativity and risk taking has been unparalleled and will leave a legacy for decades to come. Thank you, Alistair and congratulations Sir!!’ 

Alistair Spalding on the set of Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!, currently playing at Sadler’s Wells.

Nigel Higgins, Chair, Sadler’s Wells said: 

‘Alistair is that rare character – a genuine visionary in the performing arts world. Thanks to his leadership and creativity Sadler’s Wells has become a British beacon of the thriving home and international dance community. In a couple of years, the opening of our new venue in Stratford, East London will further underline his tireless efforts to build new audiences and encourage the dance talent of tomorrow. This honour is more than deserved’. 

Alistair Spalding CBE said: 

‘It is a great honour to have the work of Sadler’s Wells recognised in this way. It has presented and invested in more new dance than any other theatre in the world. Dance is now one of the most popular art forms in this country. I believe this award is an indication that our vibrant dance culture goes from strength to strength, and that our ambitious plans for Sadler’s Wells East will inspire and nurture a new generation. Dance is, of course a team effort, and the honour is very much shared with my wonderful team at Sadler’s and our artists and collaborators’. 

From everyone at Sadler’s Wells, we would like to say a huge congratulations to Alistair Spalding on his Knighthood.  


October is Black History Month, and at Sadler’s Wells we marked it by inviting Black colleagues to share their personal experiences and inspirations in dance.  

In the spirit of Black History Month, in this post we are profiling some of our Black colleagues as they shout out the contributions and achievements of Black people across the arts.  

We hear from five of our colleagues – Natasha Anderson, Shakira Holder, Adanna Lawrence, Bo Makhokolo and Shama Rowland – as they give us an insight into their personal views on dance, arts and Black culture.  


Bo: Dance has always been a big part of my life, for as long as I can remember. It’s the cliché of watching a Missy Elliott music video and learning all the moves, dreaming to be part of something so iconic! I found myself through dance – there’s a freedom about expressing myself through dance that I can’t quite explain. 

Adanna: Dance was the first language that taught me how to be vast in my body, mind and soul. Dance has taught me how to be disciplined in my routines of life, set boundaries in my personal space and energies, as well as trusting the process. 

Shakira: Dance and the arts is an integral part of my existence! Growing up, my mother took me and my sister to every art gallery, every theatre, every participatory workshop she could find. Sometimes I loved it, sometimes I hated it. But I can hand on heart say that being surrounded by so much dance and art from a young age, educated me and played a big part in why I work in learning and engagement roles in the arts today. 


Bo: The influence Black culture has had on dance and the arts in undeniable. It’s evident in everything. There’s such a rich history and so many Black people that are truly innovators. In Black culture and dance, I think of Aakomon Jones, who choreographed Aaliyah’s More Than A Woman music video. 20 years later, watching it still feels timeless. There are artists all over the world that takes inspiration from such work, and this is just one example from the styling / fashion, the hair – it’s all part of the performance. 

Natasha: There has been a long history of Black culture shaping world culture. This is especially true when we look at street culture and dance styles through the same lens. It’s often the case that trend setters will spend their time in Black communities and on their dance floors to see what people are doing. From jazz to funk, hip hop to dancehall and west African dance to contemporary, I understand how Black dance styles have influenced choreographers around the world. For example, choreographers like Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, who is a Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist, working with Beyonce and Jay-Z. I think it’s very interesting how contemporary dance is influencing hip hop culture, as it constantly evolves. 

Shakira: I think Black culture highlights enjoyment and community. For example, Notting Hill Carnival. Carnival is a place of pure vibes, fun, movement, grooving and smiling. I find so much joy in dancing through the streets and celebrating my Caribbean roots. I feel that sometimes Black culture has been sexualised in dance and is seen more in commercial and music video settings. I find that we tend to find Black culture in these environments more and rarely find it in theatres and on stages, which I’d love to see more of.  

Colville Ward Councillors, Carnival Village Trust and Mural Republic’s Inaugural Black History Month Mural. © Notting Hill Carnival.


Shama: My favourite dance style is new style hip hop. It has the essence of original hip hop dance, but ‘new style’ allows dancers and choreographers to put their own vibe and personalised style on it. For example, Beyonce and Les Twins – my favourite high-profile dancers. Beyonce’s creativity in her dance performances are indisputable. Beyonce can DANCE and it’s her own style that she has created and owned. And then Les Twins, are another level of dance creatives who have shown the world that they’re unique and are here to leave a stamp in Black culture. They have created moves that I have never seen before. Because new style hip hop incorporates so many genres of dance and music, it will always evolve and bring something new to the table. 

Les Twins Breakin’ Convention Hip Hop Dance Festival Showcase 2015 OFFICIAL Footage. © Breakin’ Convention BCTV on YouTube. 

Bo: My favourite dance style is commercial hip hop because you have the space to make it your own. I find that ten people could be doing the same choreography but perform and interpret it differently. Commercial hip hop feels very personal. 

Adanna: I started in musical theatre and trained in contemporary and ballet but have always loved freestyle. Freestyle allows the body to do exactly what it feels and there’s something about putting on a track and letting your body sit in the pocket of the music and being able to move and explore.  

Shakira: Contemporary fusion is my favourite. It is such an umbrella term, and when different styles are merged, for example, ballet, hip hop and dancehall, these styles together can create something incredible. It reminds me of how I like to dance. I started ballet at the age of two but found my love for hip hop at around 12-years-old and discovered how incorporating various dance styles has influenced my movement catalogue.  


Adanna: I attended a beautiful photography exhibition run alongside an all-Black cast performance of Black Victorians, which was part of the Greenwich + Docklands International Festival. One of my friends was performing and it was so incredible to see them perform, and I felt truly honoured to witness her move. To see a performance like this, during the year we’ve had, was needed and I can only say we need more of it.  

Black Victorians Dance by Artistic Director and Choreographer Jeanefer Jean-Charles. © Greenwich + Docklands International Festival. 

Shama: For as long as I can remember, I have attended the Sadler’s Wells Breakin’ Convention (BC) Hip Hop Dance Festival, every year. Attending BC festival every May bank holiday weekend is a family tradition and is a major highlight of the year for us. The artists and choreographers that have graced Sadler’s Wells’ stage over the years are so unique and passionate about what they do, and it shows in their moves and storytelling. BC festival has taught me a lot about hip hop culture. Every year there is always a new artist that is a game changer in hip hop dance.  

Shama and her family at Breakin’ Convention in 2019. © Shama Rowland.

Natasha: That’s a hard one and it’s between the beautiful storytelling of paired down hip hop in Blak, Whyte, Gray by Boy Blue or the graceful storytelling of Alvin Ailey. As I can only choose one, I would say Blak, Whyte, Gray as I have a soft spot for hip hop. It was the first piece of hip hop dance that brought me to tears and as a genre, hip hop theatre has evolved massively during my working career, from commercial films and music videos to filling out theatres. However, I think what makes a real difference is the multicultural audience that it attracts and how the energy and enthusiasm for the dancers makes the whole experience electric for everyone attending.  

Boy Blue Whyte (excerpt) from Blak Whyte Gray. © Sadler’s Wells & BBC Arts present Dancing Nation.

Shakira: iTMOi by Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Akram Khan, in 2013. This piece lives rent free in my mind, forever! It was dynamic, emotive and powerful, but beautiful at the same time. The movement was strong, and the dancers made it look effortless. The use of contemporary and classical Indian dance had me stunned – I’d never seen anything like it! I would also say Speak Volumes; by National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) and Alesandra Seutin, who are hosted by Sadler’s Wells, as another favourite!    

iTMOi / Akram Khan Company – Final Trailer. © Akram Khan Company on YouTube. 


Adanna: I’d have to say my grandmothers. They were both top nurses in their prime, and so much more. They are my inspirations for fashion and black female artistry, in a way that fuels my creativity.  

Bo: Sean Bankhead. My favourite choreographer of all time! Everything he touches turns to gold. The thing that inspires me most about him is he hears everything. His musicality is out of this world, and then his movement on top – greatest of all time. He is so authentic and genuine and when you see something with his name on it, he never compromises his art. 

Missy Elliott – I’m Better Music Video Choreography. © Sean Bankhead on YouTube.

Natasha: Again, I have more than one, but someone who I admire greatly is Debbie Allen. I was too young to watch Fame (where she played the principal of a performing arts school), but it was a must see in my household. Not only is Debbie an American actress, dancer, choreographer, singer-songwriter, director and producer, she has been nominated and has won many awards. On top of this, she finds time to run the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. The academy stages the Hot Chocolate Nutcracker to showcase the talents of the next generation of dancers, who most of them due to their background and lack of opportunity, are there on scholarship. You can watch them yourself in Dance Dreams on Netflix. Bring your tissues! 

Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker Official Trailer. © Netflix on YouTube. 

Shama: My nominee is not related to dance but is a Black figure who has been an advocate for a huge amount of change over the years, especially regarding racial equality. My nominee is Lewis Hamilton. Lewis is a 7-time world champion in Formula 1 and the only Black F1 driver, ever! On top of Lewis’ wins and championships, he has created a platform where he openly speaks about how society can open doors for young Black and People of Colour to be whatever they want to be, with no boundaries. Something that really inspired me from him recently is his purchase of a table at this year’s Met Gala. He invited three very talented young Black designers, to give them a platform to showcase their passion. The change and awareness Lewis Hamilton is showing to the youth, and even adults, is undeniable and is truly an inspiration to so many.  

Shakira: The Alleyne twins and TJ Lowe. They were in iTMOi by Akram Khan, and they resonated with me. They have played a massive part in my physical dance journey, ever since I saw them perform for the first time. I have worked with them all on several occasions and I look forward to working with them again. They are very well known and have so much knowledge but always find the time to talk to me, and that is special. 

The Alleyne Twins. Photo credit: Irven Lewis. © Alleyne Dance.

We support and recognise the importance of Black History and this October, and every month in between, we celebrate! 

A very huge thank you to our colleagues who participated in this post.