National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) and hip hop theatre company Far From The Norm joined forces with Norfolk Museums Service to mark the launch of Norwich Castle’s four-year renovation project with a site-specific performance.
Made by and for young people, Fight or Flight combined a variety of movement languages including contemporary dance, hip hop, capoeira and choreographed combat to reflect on the physiological state known as the fight-or-flight response.
NYDC dancers Mollie Stebbing and Sekou Diaby worked with local dance groups – including Capoeira Communities, Knight’s Tower Medieval Combat, The Garage, in-house dance company Passion Productions and inclusive dance group In Cahoots – to share movement language from MADHEAD, choreographed by NYDC 2018-19 Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva. They were helped by Victoria Shulungu and Jordan Douglas, members of Seva’s company Far From The Norm.
Their visit to Norwich served as inspiration for each partner organisation to choreograph their own, seven-minute interpretation of the fight-or-flight theme. The performance brought together these individual sections, with each group handing over to the next one, culminating in a finale where they all performed repertoire from MADHEAD together with members of NYDC.
Bringing together local and national creative partners to showcase the unique ways in which different movement practices can co-exist within the walls of the 900-year-old historic building, Fight or Flight celebrated the castle’s historic past and impending transformation. Children and young people from a diverse range of backgrounds took part in the performance, which attracted hundreds of visitors over two showings.
We believe dance
has a vital and transformative role to play in education. It improves children
and young people’s mental and physical wellbeing, including by inspiring creativity,
boosting self-confidence, increasing self-awareness and developing discipline, communication
and team-working skills.
As part of our work to embed dance in young people’s lives, Sadler’s Wells recently ran a summer school with the National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), and delivered dance workshops at the East Education Summer School. Both projects were designed to offer memorable and inspiring opportunities for children and young people to experience and engage with dance.
This International Youth Day, we find out more about the summer activities from the young participants themselves.
School with NYDC
From 29 July to 9 August, we offered 19 students from seven of our Associate Schools in Islington, Newham and Tower Hamlets the chance to experience a ‘week in the life of’ NYDC and its current Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva, with bespoke workshops led by members of his company Far From the Norm.
At the beginning of the week, a young participant interviewed Associate Choreographer Jordan Douglas, shining a light on his approach to teaching and take on the role of dance in empowering young people.
How do you prepare the young
people for the week? Can you describe your approach?
“I start by teaching the students some of the basics of house dance, so we look at groove and footwork. As there is a mixed level of ability in a class, being able to have an adaptable framework is very important in order to get the most out of a session. During the workshop, one of my top priorities is getting the young dancers to interact with each other. This way, you’re creating an environment that is a safe space, which allows the students to feel confident no matter what the challenge is.”
How does dance educate,
inspire and empower young people?
“The feeling of learning something new, of working on it, watching it improve and then being able to perform it, is a great one. This, as well as the freedom to express yourself through dance, is very empowering. The creativity within dance can really offer a much-needed break from their standard school subjects and daily activities.”
Why is dance a useful form of expression for young people to explore?
“The medium of street dance is a lot more connected to youth. Street dance is easily accessible: it’s online, in music videos and at the forefront of fashion. Being able to share a common language takes us one step further to being able to help young people open up to dance.”
Education Summer School
During a free, two-week programme held at Here East in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, young east Londoners were given the opportunity to take part in a host of activities and classes delivered by world-leading organisations. These included the six institutions that will be part of East Bank, a new cultural and education district being developed in the park: Sadler’s Wells, the BBC, UAL’s London College of Fashion, UCL and the V&A in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution.
As part of the summer school, Sadler’s Wells hosted workshops in African dance, led by our Learning & Engagement team, and in rap, grime, music, theatre skills and dramaturgy, led by our Breakin’ Convention team. An evening trip was also arranged during the week for the young participants to enjoy Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet, a new production performed by our Resident Company New Adventures.
We asked some of the participants from Breakin’ Convention’s hip hop theatre workshop to share some of their highlights from the programme.
Sadler’s Wells produces an eclectic mix of world-class dance shows and tours them both at home and abroad. At least 10 of our productions are presented on stages worldwide each year, showcasing styles as rich and varied as tango, salsa, hip hop and contemporary dance.
Since 2005, our productions have toured to over 300 venues in more than 200 cities in 48 countries, with over 2,100 performances enjoyed by audiences of over 1.9 million across the globe.
On International Dance Day, we go behind the scenes for an exclusive look at productions we are currently touring, speaking to the people who produce our shows to find out just what it takes to bring them on the road and onto world stages.
National Youth Dance Company: MADHEAD
What? Under the creative direction of acclaimed 2018-19 Guest Artistic Director and Olivier award winner Botis Seva, our National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) – comprising 38 of the UK’s best young dancers – premiered its new work MADHEAD in Ipswich on 20 April. The show blends contemporary dance, physical theatre and hip-hop, combining Botis Seva’s choreographic style with the young dancers’ energy and talent to deliver an enthralling and energetic performance.
Where? From June, the production embarks on a national tour across Plymouth, Newcastle, Essex, Brighton and Birmingham, closing at Sadler’s Wells on 19 July.
Who? NYDC General Manager, Hannah Kirkpatrick.
Can you describe producing MADHEAD in one word? Inspiring.
Challenges? As with all NYDC productions, the challenge is also part of what makes NYDC. Just by nature of the company, it is a huge challenge: a full-length work developed in just 4 weeks, with high production values, with almost 40 young people, all with different training backgrounds and dance styles. It needs to be a work that is strong enough to stand alongside professional work in some of the leading theatres in the country. We don’t want people to think that work by young people is lesser in any way; it just has a different energy.
Personal highlights? I think Botis and the Far From The Norm artists (Vicky, Jordan, Ezra and Joshua) have been inspiring role models for the company. We were on residency when Botis won the Olivier Award for best dance for his work BLKDOG. They had been rehearsing with the company all day, got changed in the dressing rooms at Sadler’s Wells and then went to the awards ceremony. And then the next day they were back in the studio at 9am warming up. That dedication and work ethic is really inspiring for our company dancers to see. It sets the standard and I think that’s really important.
It’s also a highlight to see the dancers’ faces when they do a run and it goes well and they feel the high of performance. Seeing that they are proud of what they have done and seeing them starting to own the piece as theirs, that’s pretty special.
William Forsythe’s A Quiet Evening of Dance
What? Forsythe continues to innovate in this FEDORA award-winning production of new and existing works, stripping dance back to its core, rawest form. Performed by seven of his most trusted collaborators, the dance roster is extensive, technical and multi-dimensional as the result is intimate, personal and free from clutter.
Where? A Quiet Evening of Dance has just toured in Germany – it will continue to tour Europe, appearing in Oslo in May and at the Venice Biennale in June.
Who? Assistant Producer, Florent Trioux.
Can you describe producing A Quiet Evening of Dancein one word? Special (in the best possible way).
Challenges? This piece is touring over 21 weeks this year. With a team of seven international dancers and three British technicians, it involves a huge amount of international logistics. The team is composed of American, German, Albanian, British, Canadian nationalities, and we had to overcome some challenging situations in order to bring some of these people into the UK, not only for the production of the show but also during its tour.
During production it was difficult to manage our expectations. We had no idea what would become of the piece. Bill has a very specific creative process and I don’t think he knew himself. It was hard to foresee how the programme would be structured a few days before the premiere, or what music would be used in parts of the show. It’s like working in the dark, but being very excited about it!
Personal highlights? Having the honour to meet and work with Bill Forsythe has been a fantastic working and human experience. He is a creative genius and an amazing human being. The people he brought together for this project are all very unique and have amazing personalities. We’re like a family.
I have seen this show over 10 times already and I am still always looking forward to seeing it again in a different place. It is such a tasteful and clever piece. When our Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding said “William Forsythe changed my view of what dance can be”, I understood why, because he did it for me too.
Natalia Osipova: Pure Dance
What? In Pure Dance, superstar ballerina Natalia Osipova brings together a handpicked programme of exciting and eclectic dance works. Through a medley of five elegantly breath-taking pieces, which see her accompanied by three exceptional dancers, Pure Dance takes the audience on a journey from the world of classical ballet through to a more contemporary repertoire.
Where? Pure Dance premiered in London last autumn and has recently toured to New York. ”Ms Osipova, a principal at the Royal Ballet in London, uses the program to cultivate new partnerships: with other dancers and with choreographers she has handpicked to showcase the range of her artistry,” said the New York Times’ review. Next up will be Lyon, France, in June.
Who? Senior Producer, Ghislaine Granger.
Can you describe producing Pure Dancein one word? Jigsaw-puzzle.
Challenges? It was tricky scheduling rehearsals involving four very busy dancers, on top of six equally busy choreographers, as well as the creative teams around each piece. There were a lot of people and places to juggle!
Personal highlights? Getting a personal thank you from each artist involved – that was a real treat.
Yang Liping’s Rite of Spring
What? Choreographer Yang Liping is known as the “Peacock Princess” in her native China. This affectionate nickname stems from her most famous dance work, Spirit of the Peacock, inspired by the traditional peacock folk dancing of her youth. In this stunning new work, a Sadler’s Wells’ co-production, she reunites with Oscar-winning designer Tim Yip to create a unique take on Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring – utilising the iconic score alongside original compositions inspired by traditional Tibetan music. Returning to her roots for this piece, Yang’s sacrificial Chosen One takes the form of a peacock.
Where? Following its world premiere in Shanghai in October, the production will embark on a global tour in cities including New York and Amsterdam, making its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells in May.
Who? Farooq Chaudhry, Producer.
Can you describe producing Rite of Springin one word? Unpredictable!
Challenges? Trying to reimagine a story and make it relevant and accessible to western audiences, while respecting and retaining the Chinese context and aesthetics that have driven the creative process. That and the awful dilemma of trying to transform Yang Liping’s vision without changing her!
The biggest producing challenge is always finding an authentic alignment between intention, action and context.
Personal highlights? Watching and discovering a relatively inexperienced young cast grow and flourish and knowing this work has made a big difference to Chinese contemporary dance.
A new work commissioned as
part of celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of Sadler’s Wells
building was named best new dance production at the Olivier Awards 2019, with
two Sadler’s Wells Associate Artists also winning prizes.
At a ceremony held at the
Royal Albert Hall on 7 April, dancer and choreographer Botis Seva was
recognised for his work BLKDOG, while
Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artists Akram Khan and Matthew Bourne took home the outstanding
achievement in dance and a special award recognising three decades of
achievement in British dance, respectively.
The Olivier Awards are
Britain’s most prestigious stage honours, recognising excellence in – and the
world-class status of – professional theatre in London.
Let’s take a closer look at these award-winning dance artists…
From left to right: Botis Seva, Akram Khan and Matthew Bourne.
Botis Seva is a dancer, choreographer and artistic director of company Far From the Norm. He works within the realms of contemporary dance, physical theatre and hip hop.
His highly praised piece BLKDOG premiered at Sadler’s Wells in October 2018 as part of Reckonings – a triple bill of new work we commissioned as part of celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of our current theatre building, which also featured pieces by Alesandra Seutin and our New Wave Associate Julie Cunningham.
A “bleak and withdrawn commentary on having to cope with being a child-like adult and an untamed artist simultaneously”, BLKDOG took home best new dance production at yesterday’s Olivier Awards – a monumental win for hip hop dance, the UK’s wider dance industry and beyond.
Botis is currently the 2018-19 Guest Artistic Director of the National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), which is run by Sadler’s Wells. Now in its eighth year, the company comprises of 38 young dancers from across England. Working under the guidance of Botis and his creative team, NYDC is currently in rehearsals ahead of the premiere of MADHEAD, a new piece combining Botis’ unique choreographic style with the young dancers’ energy and talent. The show has its premiere at Dance East on 20 April ahead of a national tour over the summer, with a final performance at Sadler’s Wells on 19 July.
Akram Khan: XENOS
Akram Khan is one of the most internationally celebrated dance artists working today. He was among the first group of dance artists appointed as Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist in 2005, and we’ve been proud to co-produce many of the acclaimed works he has created since, including zero degrees, a collaboration with fellow Associate Artist Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui; Sacred Monsters, created with ballet star Sylvie Guillem; Gnosis; Vertical Road; DESH; iTMOi (in the mind of igor); Until the Lions; and XENOS.
Akram’s style blends the Indian classical dance form of Kathak with contemporary dance to tell moving and powerful stories that have universal resonance. Marking Akram’s final performances as a solo dancer in a full-length work, XENOS captured the shell-shocked experience of a colonial soldier in the First World War.
His stellar performance in the solo piece earned him the outstanding achievement in dance prize at the Olivier Awards.
Matthew Bourne is widely hailed as the UK’s most popular choreographer and director. He is the creator of the world’s longest running ballet production, a five-time Olivier Award-winner, and the only British director to have won a Tony Award for both best choreographer and best director of a musical. He was also one of the first Associate Artists appointed at Sadler’s Wells in 2005.
In 2017, Matthew’s company New Adventures, a Resident Company at Sadler’s Wells, celebrated its 30th anniversary.
Matthew was presented with a special Olivier Award recognising three decades of extraordinary achievement in dance. This was his 8th Olivier Award, making him joint holder of the most ever Oliviers, alongside actress Judi Dench.
Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet, his latest work, will come to our stage on Wednesday 7 August.
The National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) has started to work with 2018-19 Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva on a new piece titled MADHEAD.
Twenty-eight new members – 19 female and nine male – were selected through experience workshops held throughout the UK over the summer. They joined ten returning dancers from last year to form a company of 38.
Image: Manuel Vason
Far From The Norm Artistic Director Botis Seva will lead this new cohort. His appointment followed the world premiere of his recent highly acclaimed piece, BLKDOG, commissioned as part of Sadler’s Wells’ 20th anniversary’s triple bill, Reckonings (Oct 2018), which also included works from Julie Cunningham and Alexandra Seutin. Seva has also recently collaborated with filmmaker Billy Boyd Cape to produce Reach, a short film commissioned by Sadler’s Wells as part of Channel 4’s Random Acts series.
The company will premiere MADHEAD at Dance East in Ipswich on 20 April 2019, followed by a nationwide tour and a final performance at Sadler’s Wells in July 2019. The new commission will blend contemporary dance, physical theatre and hip hop.
Established in 2012 and run by Sadler’s Wells, NYDC is the UK’s flagship company for young dancers aged 15-24, bringing together and nurturing the brightest talent from across the country with the aim of shaping the future of dance.
NYDC’s dancers are mentored during four intensive residencies in school holidays to rehearse the new piece. Read here new member Harriet Musgrove’s personal reflection on the company’s first residency held at DanceEast in Ipswich in October.
What the NYDC programme offers to its young members is a unique insight into the dance profession and the invaluable opportunity to collaborate with professional dance artists and their creative teams. The year-long experience in the company has proved successful in providing dancers with the necessary skills and techniques to find career opportunities. Over 80% of NYDC alumni have either gone on to undertake further dance studies or work professionally at established dance companies such as Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Cullberg Ballet, BalletBoyz and Rambert2.
In October 1998, after two intense years of construction, the new Sadler’s Wells theatre opened its doors to the public. The milestone was marked with two opening events. One, a traditional gala opening and performance by Rambert, took place on Tuesday 13 October. The other, in keeping with Lilian Baylis’ legacy of using theatre as a means for social outreach, was a free public opening for the local community, which took place the previous Saturday 10 October. As a nod to the past, but with our eyes fixed firmly on the future, our 20th anniversary celebrations this month reflected these two separate openings.
On Sunday 7 October, we opened our doors to our local communities for Sadler’s Wells’ first Fun Palace, as part of Fun Palaces 2018. The campaign promotes the central role of community at the heart of culture with a weekend of action each October, where arts, science and community organisations across the country are called on to facilitate community-led activities.
For the Sadler’s Wells Fun Palace, we invited local community organisations to lead a variety of activities throughout the day; the resulting programme had a strong emphasis on skills, learning and creativity. Workshops throughout the day were grouped into three main categories – dance, crafts, and mindfulness, with a requisite dance floor on the ground floor. With something happening on each of our foyers, visitors were encouraged to wander throughout the building, drop in and out of various activities or simply sit down to watch, chat and relax. By the end of the day, visitors had a chance to learn Tudor dance, Bollywood and flamenco moves, practice yoga, take part in a drawing class and decorate a paper footprint to be displayed on the wall of the Mezzanine level as part of a collective artwork titled Dancing on the Ceiling.
“I particularly loved the silent disco – 100% certified fun! It is wonderful that Sadler’s Wells reaches out to people in the community with such days, particularly this 20-year celebration.” – Wendy Williams, Holloway Neighbourhood Group.
Four days later, on 11 October, we celebrated again with the world premiere of Reckonings, a mixed bill we commissioned to three bold choreographic voices: Julie Cunningham, Alesandra Seutin and Botis Seva. The dance makers each took different conceptual starting points to create an evening that at its core asked questions about identity and the state of contemporary society. Cunningham’s work interrogated traditional gender binaries; Seutin fused African styles with urban dance language to comment on how we perceive brown bodies; and Seva – inspired by Sally Brampton’s memoir about depression – looked introspectively at his own trials as an artist, using a hip-hop dance vocabulary and representations of violence to question our assumptions about black men and street dance.
“The revised, rejuvenated old Wells theatre took on a new life, ‘purpose-built for dance’, twenty years to the day (feels like yesterday), and has gone from strength to strength since taking dance to realms beyond one’s imagining. Long may it continue to dare and innovate.” – Vera Liber, British Theatre Guide.
Sadler’s Wells’ Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding joined the three choreographers and their dancers on stage after the curtain call to give a brief speech, congratulating the artists for creating and bringing to life an amazing performance. He also thanked the exceptional artists we work closely with at Sadler’s Wells: our Associate Artists, Resident and Associate companies, New Wave Associates, Young Associates, National Youth Dance Company members and alumni, as well as all the international dance artists and companies we support and collaborate with. He acknowledged the great contribution of two formative figures in Sadler’s Wells’ history, who were both in the audience that evening: Ian Albery, former Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells, who led the campaign to transform the theatre into a building purpose-built for dance; and Roger Spence, Project Director, who managed the construction project.
Finally, he ended with a heartfelt thank you to our fantastic audiences for accompanying the theatre on its journey in the last two decades. This was followed by a confetti drop, showering the audience in golden ticket stubs embossed with the night’s date and the names of the production and choreographers.
As part of our digital campaign to mark our anniversary, we took to Twitter to ask people about their favourite Sadler’s Wells memories of the last 20 years. We received some wonderful responses from artists, performers, patrons and guests, which we compiled in this Twitter Moment. Among those who told us about their favourite memory was Florence Welch, musician and lead vocalist of Florence and the Machine.
Congratulations to Sadler's Wells who are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their new building. This is my favourite memory of @Sadlers_Wells, seeing the English National Ballet perform Pina Bausch's The Rite of Spring #SW20pic.twitter.com/NRoIt43QS6
Thank you to everyone who came to our Fun Palace and to the opening of Reckonings – to all the artists, audiences, communities and supporters who have been part of the Sadler’s Wells journey these past 20 years. Here’s to many more!
Random Acts returns to Channel 4 this summer with a new series of short films including Reach, which will be broadcast at midnight on Tuesday 7 August.
Director Billy Boyd Cape collaborates with dancer and choreographer Botis Seva’s hip-hop theatre collective Far From The Norm to explore themes of love, abandonment and fatherhood in this emotional dance film commissioned by Sadler’s Wells.
Botis Seva, Artistic Director of Far From the Norm, said: “The film was a very different and new experience for me. I’m grateful that I got to collaborate with Billy Boyd Cape. He is an amazing director with a creative vision that complements my practice. I’m proud of the short film, it touches on something I care deeply about and I’m excited to share it.”
Take a sneaky peek behind the scenes at the making of Reach in this video:
Botis Seva was recently appointed Guest Artistic Director of National Youth Dance Company for 2019. #
His new dance work, commissioned by Sadler’s Wells as part of the 20th anniversary of our theatre building this year, will be presented as part of Reckonings, a triple bill showcasing the work of a new generation of dance makers, on 11 – 13 October.
National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), the country’s flagship organisation for young dancers run by Sadler’s Wells, will work with choreographer Botis Seva as its next Guest Artistic Director. NYDC begins its search for the next intake of 30 young dancers to join the company for 2018-19 and work with Seva to create a new dance production, with Experience Workshops taking place across England from next month. The organisation has been granted further support for the two years ahead from the Department for Education and Arts Council England, to continue nurturing the country’s young talent and building the leading dance artists of the future.
Seva takes over from the current Guest Artistic Director, Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artist Sharon Eyal. Used To Be Blonde, Eyal’s production for National Youth Dance Company, premiered to critical acclaim at Sadler’s Wells earlier this month and is touring across England this summer.
Botis Seva is a dance artist, choreographer and director working within the realms of contemporary dance, physical theatre and hip-hop. He was awarded the Bonnie Bird Choreography Fund and the Marion North Mentoring Award in 2015, and has won two international choreographic competitions: Choreography 30 in Hannover, Germany and Copenhagen’s International Choreographic Competition. Seva’s recent dance credits include InNoForm for the British Dance Edition & Laban Theatre, Woman of Sun for Greenwich Dance & Trinity Laban Partnership Compass Commission, outdoor work H.O.H for Without Walls, GDIF & Norfolk & Norwich Festival and TuTuMucky for Scottish Dance Theatre.
Seva and his collective Far From the Norm have previously performed at Sadler’s Wells with Breakin’ Convention, and curated a Wild Card evening in the Lilian Baylis Studio. In October his work will be seen in Reckonings, a triple bill commissioned by Sadler’s Wells to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our current theatre building, which will also feature pieces by UK-based dance-makers Julie Cunningham and Alesandra Seutin.
Botis Seva, NYDC Guest Artistic Director, said: “I’m very excited and grateful for the opportunity to work with National Youth Dance Company. I look forward to sharing my passion for dance with these young performers, and having the opportunity to challenge my own dance language while I am Guest Artistic Director. Having the chance to work with NYDC has always been on my bucket list, and I hope with the support of Sadler’s Wells this experience will truly push me as an artist.”
Experience Workshops will take place across England from May to July. The workshops are an opportunity to find out more about NYDC. Young dancers will take part in a company class, learn repertoire from NYDC productions and take part in creative tasks. Participants will also meet members of the current company, ask questions and get advice on dance training and careers in dance. Experience Workshops are used as an opportunity to be considered for a place in the 2018-19 company. They are open to dancers from all backgrounds and abilities, with experience in any dance style.
Entering its seventh year, NYDC has established a reputation for innovative, challenging and influential work, producing open-minded and curious dancers. The company brings together the brightest talent from across England, immersing the members fully in the process of creating, performing and touring new work, giving them a unique insight into the dance profession. NYDC has a track record of putting young people on paths to successful dance careers, with over 80% of all former NYDC dancers now either in further dance studies, in vocational training or working professionally. Graduates from NYDC have since danced in Michael Keegan-Dolan’s Teaċ Daṁsa, Hofesh II, and the Jasmin Vardimon Company.
In addition to the core programme, NYDC runs additional projects that support dance in communities across the country. Current members will visit Falmouth in May for a residency with local young dancers who are a part of Propeller and Hall for Cornwall Youth Dance. This starts a creation process that culminates in a large-scale outdoor performance at the Eden Project in July. Also, NYDC recently partnered with the inclusive Corali Dance Company to create a new dance film, directed by Paul Davidson (a Corali and NYDC dancer), which has been developed into a workshop for young dancers with regional partners across England.