Sampled: Meet the Dancers

Sampled is coming back to Sadler’s Wells this February, giving audiences a taste of different dance styles from hip hop to ballet to flamenco and showcasing some of the finest dance talent from the UK and across the world. Ahead of their arrival at Sadler’s Wells, we caught up with some of the dancers to find out a bit more about the pieces they will be performing and what dance means to them…

Kami and Bee D

In 2012, Kami and Bee D created Yeah Yellow – a crew that gather together artists of the diverse disciplines of the hip hop dance including bboying, popping, freestyle hip hop and tutting.
As part of this year’s Sadler’s Well Sampled, they will be performing their 13 minute piece Yeah Yellow Sunshine which captures the spirit and creative of this dynamic dance troop, featuring 10 energetic performers, including Kami and Bee D.

What was your first experience of watching dance?
Kami & Bee D: “Our first experience with dance was the same. It was a documentary about hip hop dance called Faire Kiffer les Anges. It spoke about a French company and French hip hop dancer. We saw how the dancers trained, how they faced their choice to live dance despite the difficulties and sometimes the misunderstanding of the family. How they managed to overcome all the obstacles to finally make it their job.”

Adam Russell-Jones

Also performing as part of Sampled, is NDT2, a secondary division of Nederlands Dans Theater which was set up in 1978 to feed the professional company with fresh, young talent.
The piece entitled Wir sagen uns Dunkles is set to the sounds of Schubert and Schnittke, and performed by an ensemble cast of 11 dancers, including Adam Russell-Jones who spent 3 years with Stuttgart Ballet before joining NDT2 last year.

What does dance mean to you?
Adam Russell-Jones: “For me dance is more than performance art, it is constantly shifting and can never be truly repeated. It’s a beautiful conversation between artist and viewer that can’t be replicated once you’ve left the the auditorium. That’s the beauty of live performance. For myself that means that each performance something different can be said, or can be felt and I think that’s what keeps a performance alive.”

Rudi Cole & Júlia Robert Parés

Rising Birmingham based contemporary dance company Humanhood will be performing their piece ZERO as part of Sampled which is performed and choreographed by the company’s founders Rudi Cole and Júlia Robert Parés.

ZERO is Humanhood’s first full length duet and was created over a period of one year and a half, in different places including Birmingham, Barcelona as well as a research period in India. The piece is a metaphor of the Universe, its physical laws as well as its spiritual realm, from the latest discoveries about gravitational waves and black holes to the wisdom of Taoism.

What was your first experience of watching dance?
Júlia Robert Parés: My mum always talks about when I was 3 years old, I was staring speechless at a roller dancer training in the skate park of my hometown in Sitges, she had to pull me away to get me out of that state of awe; some weeks later she inscribed me into ballet classes.
Rudi Cole: My first experience had to be when I was a toddler watching my mother and father during African Classes in Birmingham.

Zenaida Yenowsky

This Spanish born, former Principal Dancer with the Royal Ballet, started her career as a classical dancer with Paris Opera Ballet before moving to London to join the Royal Ballet where she danced leading roles.

For Sampled, she will be performing The Dying Swan (originally The Swan), which is a solo choreographed by Mikhail Fokine in 1905 for the ballerina Anna Pavlova and was first presented in St. Petersburg, Russia.

What was your first experience of watching dance?
Zenaida Yenowsky: “My parents where contemporary dancers so I was bottle-fed dance.”

Jesús Carmona

Born in Barcelona, the award-winning and critically acclaimed flamenco dancer Jesús Carmona began his training age 7 and went on to learn from the masters of Spanish dance.

Soleá del Campillo is a piece that goes through the tradition of an emblematic style of Flamenco, with a traditional aesthetic where Jesús Carmona shows all his technical and artistic possibilities.

What does dance mean to you?
Jesús Carmona: “For me dancing means everything, it’s like for a plant, photosynthesis, when music enters me and becomes feelings and these in movement. It is something vital for me and for my life, I could not live without dancing.”

Jenna Roberts

Two of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s finest dancers Jenna Roberts and Mathius Dingman will be performing Kin., originally created by Alexander Whitley as part of the 2014 International Dance Festival Birmingham. This excerpt, a pas de deux choreographed for pointe, is the third of the ballet’s four movements. The work’s title is not only an obvious reference to relations, but also an abbreviation of the word ‘kinetic’.

What does dance mean to you?
Jenna Roberts: “Whether it be in the studio or on stage performing, dancing is where I can loose myself and become someone else for that hour or two. To really be in the moment is what dancing is to me.”

Jodelle Douglas & Harry Barnes

Harry Barnes and Jodelle Douglas grew up at opposite ends of the country in Merseyside and Bristol but bonded over their shared passion for dance when they met through the BBC Young Dancer competition.

Last year Harry was invited by Jodelle Douglas to create a duet for the Grand Final of BBC Young Dancer 2017, resulting in Mass Effect, a piece which they will be performing as part of Sampled.

What inspired you to become a dancer?
Jodelle Douglas: “My inspiration to become a dancer was my family and my neighbourhood. Growing up in a neighbourhood like mine when I was younger was really hard as there were many opportunities to take the wrong paths. I feel dance allowed me to have a positive outlet of all the negative things happening around me at the time.”

Nafisah Baba

Nafisah started dancing at age 9 and was awarded a DaDa aged 16. After graduating from Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, Nafisah joined Chrysalis London where her love for Contemporary dance flourished under the direction of Jodie Blemings and in April 2017 she won BBC Young Dancer. Nafisah is currently dancing with Phoenix Dance Theatre.

What was your first experience of watching dance?
Nafisah Baba:”Watching Alvin Ailey was my first experience of watching dance that I can remember clearly. The company is a huge inspiration for me and watching them at Sadler’s Wells in 2016 was a dream come true.”

Welly O’Brien & Victoria Fox

Candoco Dance Company, the leading dance company of disabled and non-disabled dancers, was founded by Celeste Dandeker-Arnold and Adam Benjamin in 1991.

For Sampled, Candoco will be presenting a 10 minute excerpt of their brand new duet piece Dedicated to…, a touching portrayal of female strength, support and friendship performed by company members Welly O’Brien and Victoria Fox.

What inspired you to become a dancer?
Welly O’Brien: “After losing my leg I attended a workshop with Candoco Dance Company and realised that with my new physicality I could still express myself as an artist. I was lucky enough to be invited to embark on an apprenticeship with the company a couple of years later. The original company of dancers along with Celeste Dandekar and Adam Benjamin were the most incredible mentors, they taught me so much which I still very much value today.”