Botis Seva

Sadler’s Wells marks 20th anniversary with a double celebration

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.

https://twitter.com/Sadlers_Wells/status/1050497157583826944

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.

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!

Header image: Ian Gavan.

BEHIND THE SCENES ON BOTIS SEVA’S NEW CHANNEL 4 DANCE FILM

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.

Botis Seva is the next Guest Artistic Director of National Youth Dance Company

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.