Dance

New Year’s Honours list recognises Matthew Bourne, Tamara Rojo and Christopher Wheeldon

Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artists Matthew Bourne and Christopher Wheeldon and Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Company English National Ballet, received a knighthood, an OBE and a CBE respectively as part of the 2016 New Year’s Honours list. Our warmest congratulations to all!

Innovative online project reveals artists’ dance portraits

On Monday 4 January, Sadler’s Wells launched 52 Portraits, an online project by choreographer Jonathan Burrows, composer Matteo Fargion and video maker Hugo Glendinning, which sees a portrait of a different artist being released every Monday throughout 2016.

The 52 subjects are drawn from the vibrant UK dance scene, as well as from the many international companies visiting Sadler’s Wells during the course of the year. Each portrait takes the form of a very personal dance, filmed with the artist sitting at a table and accompanied by a song based on their biography, inspired by a tune of their choice. Participants span all ages, disciplines and cultural backgrounds and include both well-known performers and makers and younger artists.

52 Portraits builds on the success of the Olivier Award-nominated The Elders Project, created by Burrows and Fargion for the Elixir festival presented at Sadler’s Wells in September 2014. Like The Elders Project, this new initiative represents an epic love song written to an art form, while at the same time revealing the stories, thoughts and struggles of dancers in an unprecedented way.

Subscribe to receive a weekly portrait direct to your inbox at www.52portraits.co.uk52 Portraits is supported and produced by Sadler’s Wells.

 

Image: still from the portrait of artist Kwame Asafo-Adjei.

New community engagement scheme offers Islington residents dance for £3

Creative innovation and collaboration are at the heart of Sadler’s Wells. Alongside nurturing  creative talent and bringing new and bold dance work on our stage, we are committed to providing accessible routes to our programme and strive to engage with people who would not otherwise come to our venues or participate in dance.

As part of this commitment, in November we launched Get into Dance – a new community engagement scheme designed to reach residents in low-income households in Islington, the north London borough Sadler’s Wells is located in. Working in collaboration with 20 partner organisations and charities that support local residents, Get into Dance aims to welcome new audiences by offering more than 3,300 tickets to an exciting range of performances for just £3 through referrals via our partners. Fiona Ross, Director of Community and Engagement described why the launch of scheme is so important on London Live.

Through the scheme we also aim to:

– Highlight employment opportunities at Sadler’s Wells and The Peacock;
– Invite local residents to career open days, rehearsals, backstage tours and events;
– Encourage residents to join participation projects and take part in community productions.

For more information, visit www.sadlerswells.com

BBC’s Imagine features Carlos Acosta

Renowned international dancer Carlos Acosta is the subject of an upcoming episode of BBC’s Imagine documentary.

Carlos Acosta: Cuba Calls will be broadcast on BBC One on Tuesday 8 December 2015 at 10.35pm and offer audiences a fascinating insight into the Cuban artist’s career as a ballet dancer and choreographer and his exciting plans for the future.

Acosta is celebrating his 26-year career on stage with a new production. Carlos Acosta – A Classical Selection will be at the London Coliseum from 8 to 13 December 2015. The programme will include some of Acosta’s favourite works from the classical repertoire and will see him perform alongside guests from The Royal Ballet. Tickets are available here.

 

Photo: Carlos Acosta by Johan Persson

Breakin’ America: bringing hip hop dance theatre to the US

Breakin’ Convention brought its trademark hip hop dance theatre spectacular stateside in October with a successful tour to New York and North Carolina.  The line-up presented by the renowned Sadler’s Wells festival included breakdance crew The Ruggeds, dancer and choreographer Antoinette Gomis, hip hop duo Compagnie Phorm and dance company BirdGang.

The first stop was Blumenthal Performing Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina. The arts centre embraced the project wholeheartedly, working closely with the Breakin’ Convention team and truly making the festival their own.

“Breakin’ Convention has been this unifying event in the community that brought together people from all walks of life,” said Tom Gabbard, President of Blumenthal Performing Arts. “That’s probably always an important thing, but at this unique moment in time, in our country, I think those kind of unifying activities are more important than ever.”

Breakin’ Convention will return to Charlotte for the next two years, building of this success and acting as catalyst for the continued development of hip hop theatre in the region.

The team then went to Harlem’s Apollo Theater in New York – where it had toured for the first time in June 2013 to great acclaim. It was a second opportunity for Breakin’ Convention to take hip hop theatre to the birthplace of hip hop and promote the development of the art form in the US. The atmosphere in the Apollo Theater was electric and the festival was not only loved by the audience, but also an emotional experience for the dance artists, who felt humbled by the chance to follow in the footsteps of so much African-American jazz, soul, funk and hip hop talent by performing on stage.

In his review of the event in The New York Times, Alastair Macaulay wrote: “It’s to be hoped that Breakin’ Convention — first and last seen here two years ago — becomes as established in New York as it is in London.”

 

Image: Jonzi D and Boris ‘Bluz’ Rogers host Breakin’ Convention at the Levine Center for the Arts’ Knight Theater in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo: Daniel Coston

Sadler’s Wells’ voices: Verity Casey on her Development Assistant placement

In April 2015, Sadler’s Wells was announced as one of the partners taking part in the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme, a new talent development initiative creating work and training opportunities for 40 graduates in different arts organisations across the UK. Thanks to the programme, we were able to offer a one-year placement in our Development department. Verity Casey was the successful candidate securing the Development Assistant post. We spoke to her to find out how she is finding the placement and what she has been learning.

What is your background?

I come from a creative background. Having completed a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Camberwell College of Art, I moved up north to study Fine Art at Newcastle University. I spent my time producing video and installation work. As part of the course, we had to raise enough funds to put on our final degree show exhibitions in Newcastle and London. I revelled in the challenge of this and soon became excited by the process of finding creative and compelling ways to raise funds. I furthered my experience by volunteering with Age UK’s fundraising and events team in Gateshead, but was keen to gain experience of fundraising in the arts.

How did you find out about the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Programme?

I found out about the programme online during a persistent search for a graduate job, but was then actually sent the role at Sadler’s Wells by the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy programme. I was very excited when I found out about the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries, as it was at last an opportunity to gain experience in an established arts organisation without having to do unpaid work experience.

Why did you apply to work at Sadler’s Wells?

I hadn’t had much involvement with dance since clumsy childhood ballet lessons, but I knew Sadler’s Wells had a reputation for showcasing the best contemporary and innovative works. The role was specifically for a graduate like me and offered an amazing opportunity to gain experience of fundraising in the arts. I get to see so many incredible performances as part of my job, so my relationship with dance was soon rekindled!

What does your placement involve?

I am responsible for assisting the individual giving team in looking after our members and patrons. Some of my day-to-day tasks include putting together membership packs, coordinating mailings and producing marketing and communications to send to our supporters. I have also carried out research about potential supporters. Our autumn/ winter season is ongoing and I have been assisting in organising a series of events for our patrons, including a fundraising Gala we held at the end of October.

What have you learned so far?

I have acquired a general knowledge of the process of gaining and maintaining support from individual donors. I have also learnt to accurately administer a membership scheme, use a CRM database to record information and send out all types of communications. As I get to see more shows, I hope to learn more about Sadler’s Wells’ artistic programme and increase my knowledge of the dance world.

What do you particularly enjoy as part of the placement?

Sadler’s Wells is a really fun place to work, everyone has been so friendly and welcoming. I have particularly enjoyed helping to organise the varied programme of events we hold for our members and patrons. Our patrons’ nights are a great opportunity to interact with our supporters and talk to them about the amazing programme of dance that Sadler’s Wells presents.

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of it?

The amount of admin involved doesn’t always agree with my need to be creative, but I realise that it is a hard thing to escape in life.

How do you feel the placement will benefit your career?

The Weston Jerwood Creative bursaries specifically target recent arts graduates whose circumstances mean they would not be in a position to undertake unpaid work experience. Taking part in the programme has given me the opportunity to develop my skills and add to my CV, as well as to experience what it’s like to work in an arts organisation. I believe the internship will give me the chance to really begin my career in the arts industry, increasing my confidence and helping me to stand out when applying to positions in future.

What advice would you give to other graduates doing a placement through the programme?

I think the programme provides amazing opportunities for recent graduates to get a foot in the door in some of the best arts organisations in the country. I would advise anyone who is eligible to really take the opportunity to learn about all aspects of the organisation they are in, and get to meet as many different people as possible. It is good to be able to use your time on the programme to try out a new career path and find out if it’s something you want to pursue.

 

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Sadler’s Wells announces Spring/ Summer 2016 programme

A new contemporary programme commissioned for Russian ballet star Natalia Osipova, horses and a multi-installation experience with no dancers all feature in Sadler’s Wells’ upcoming season.

The Spring/ Summer 2016 season was announced at our Annual Press Conference today. Here are some of the highlights.

RESIZED 3 Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant, Arthur Pita_Natalia Osipova_29 June - 3 July_© Nikolai Gulakov

Russian ballet star Natalia Osipova takes a leap into the world of contemporary dance in a triple bill specially commissioned for her, co-produced by Sadler’s Wells and Moscow’s Muz Art Management Company.

The production features choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Russell Maliphant, who are Associate Artists at Sadler’s Wells, as well as Arthur Pita. Dancer Sergei Polunin also appears in the programme.

RESIZED 4 Michael Hulls Nitin Sawhney Lucy Carter_No Body_7 - 12 June_© Nick Hillel

In an unprecedented exploration of lighting, sound and projection, in June we turn our building inside out for the world premiere of No Body. This series of immersive, multi-sensory installation works will bring together the essential elements of a dance performance – without the physical presence of dancers.

Lighting designer and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Michael Hulls invites the audience onto the main stage to experience LightSpace, an immersive installation challenging our mood and senses.  Composer Nitin Sawhney, also a Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist, creates a music, sound and animation trail, while lighting designer Lucy Carter presents pop-up installations in unusual spaces around our building.

GOLGOTA - Nouvelle creation de Bartabas - Avec : Bartabas et Andres MARIN - Aux Haras d Annecy - Le 07 10 2013 - Photo : Nabil BOUTROS/WikiSpectacle Mention et droits obligatoires pour la presse Nationale - WIKISPECTACLE : 01 40 28 08 90

In March, horses join dancers onto the Sadler’s Wells stage for the UK premiere of Golgota by French artist Bartabas.

The breath-taking work, featuring flamenco dancer Andrés Marín and dramatic Gregorian chants, is inspired by the theatricality of sacred rituals such as the Holy Week in Seville, Spain.

 

Other exciting highlights of the upcoming season include new work by Associate Artists Akram Khan, Crystal Pite and BalletBoyz, Associate Company English National Ballet, our New Wave Associate Alexander Whitley and circus company The 7 Fingers, as well as work by international companies Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch and Rosas. More details on the new season are available here

The Spring/ Summer 2016 season goes on sale at 10am on Monday 9 November. www.sadlerswells.com

 

Photo: Sadler’s Wells’ Chief Executive and Artistic Director Alistair Spalding (centre) with dancers Sergei Polunin and Natalia Osipova.

Matthew Bourne to receive UK Theatre’s outstanding contribution award

Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artist Matthew Bourne is to be honoured at the UK Theatre Awards 2015 for his contribution to theatre.

The choreographer and Artistic Director of dance company New Adventures will receive the The Stage award for outstanding contribution to British theatre at a ceremony in London on 18 October. 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, Bourne is one of the most popular and successful choreographers working today.

Following a 14-year career as a professional dancer, he quickly established himself as an audience favourite with his endlessly inventive and witty versions of classical ballets, such as Nutcraker!, Swan Lake and Cinderella, as well as innovative productions like The Car Man and Edward Scissorhands.

Rachel Tackley, President of UK Theatre, said: “I am a huge fan of Matthew Bourne’s work which has been inspiring and thrilling audiences all over the UK and around the world for many years. I am delighted that his incredible contribution to our industry is being honoured at this year’s award ceremony. I can’t wait to see what he has planned next.”

New Adventures will perform Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty at Sadler’s Wells between 1 December and 24 January 2016. To book tickets, visit www.sadlerswells.com

 

Image: Matthew Bourne. Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Breakin’ Convention and ZooNation awarded £1m to tour the UK

Sadler’s Wells’ international festival of hip hop dance theatre Breakin’ Convention and ZooNation Dance Company, one of Sadler’s Wells’ resident companies, have together been awarded over £1 million in funding by the Arts Council.

They are among 13 organisations who will receive a total of over £4.8 million from Arts Council England as part of its Strategic Touring Programme, enabling them to tour throughout the UK over the next two years. The funding shows a substantial investment in developing audiences for hip hop dance.

Alistair Spalding, Sadler’s Wells’ Chief Executive and Artistic Director, said:“There is no underestimating the growth hip hop as a dance style has been experiencing in recent years, exploding from the streets onto the stage, but also on TV and through fashion and advertising. Its enormous success stems from its ‘each one teach one’ approach to knowledge-sharing and its ability to continuously evolve and develop a highly original vocabulary – a language that is dynamic and current, and speaks to ever increasing numbers of young people.

In the last 12 years, Breakin’ Convention has established itself as a world leader in hip hop dance theatre through its annual international festival at Sadler’ Wells. ZooNation has also been championing the development of hip hop through productions characterised by inventive and captivating storytelling, such as Into the Hoods and Some Like It Hip Hop.”

He continued: “It is great news that the Arts Council has chosen to invest in these projects through their Strategic Touring Fund, which will enable Breakin’ Convention and ZooNation to tour their high-quality work to a number of venues across the UK over the next two years, giving audiences outside London the opportunity to experience hip hop dance theatre, as well as to hopefully discover the next generation of hip hop artists.”

Welcoming the grant, Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artist and Breakin’ Convention’s Artistic Director Jonzi D said: “This is excellent news for the sector. It allows Breakin’ Convention to support the professional development of hip hop dance theatre even further, providing skills, knowledge and platforms for the plethora of emerging dance crews following in the footsteps of ZooNation, Boy Blue, Southpaw and Birdgang. The lyrical dexterity of UK emcees will now have a space to develop theatrical devices within our Moving Rap workshop strand. Arts Council England has shown commitment to the creative phenomenon that is Hip Hop culture, at a time when peace, love, unity, and fun is much needed.”

Breakin’ Convention has been awarded £562,783 for a two-year project that will see the festival tour throughout May 2016 and May 2017, programming over 400 local artists per tour to perform alongside international artists. The touring activity will be complemented by a professional development programme, pairing up artists and future hip hop programmers. There will be a new spoken word professional development strand entitled Moving Rap and a continuation of the film-makers mentorship programme.

Launched by Sadler’s Wells in 2004 and hosted and curated by Jonzi D, Breakin’ Convention features performances from diverse UK and international companies each year. The festival also sees Sadler’s Wells’ foyer transformed into a performance space with live DJs, freestyle dance jams, graffiti exhibitions and workshops from top international artists.

ZooNation Dance Company has been awarded £499,471 to present a large-scale tour of Into the Hoods: Remixed, a newly revamped version of the award-winning production, throughout the UK from Spring 2016. Performances of the work at regional venues will build on the show’s track record of bringing more diverse and younger audiences into theatres, something that it successfully achieved during previous runs at Sadler’s Wells, the Edinburgh Fringe, Southbank Centre and in the West End between 2006 and 2010.

Into the Hoods became both the first ever hip hop dance show in the West End and the longest running dance show in the West End’s history, with a five month run at the Novello Theatre. The cast of Into the Hoods won the 2009 What’s On Stage Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Ensemble Performance. Under the direction of Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artist Kate Prince, the much-loved show has been updated for 2015 with new choreography, a remixed soundtrack and new designs. Its first performances will take place at The Peacock from 23 October to 14 November, before the show embarks on national tour in spring 2016.

Into the Hoods: Remixed will act as the catalyst to deliver an audience development project, ZooResidence, across England, supporting and encouraging venues and their local partners to build audiences for hip hop dance theatre in new ways. It will include a series of projects for reaching thousands of young people, culminating in the creation of a piece to be performed as a pre-show curtain raiser for the production at each of the five partner venues.

In the production, ZooNation’s trademark narrative hip hop theatre style is used to tell the story of two children who get lost in the ‘hood’ and the surprising encounters and discoveries they make along their way, in what is a witty and humorous contemporary fairytale.

Kate Prince, Artistic Director of ZooNation Dance Company, said: “I think it is a really exciting and bold move for the Arts Council to make such a significant investment in developing audiences for hip hop dance theatre through these two major projects. The chance to work with venues more closely will really release the potential of our work to reach more people and connect new audiences to regional theatres”. 

She continued: “This investment of over £1 million pounds between ourselves and Breakin’ Convention also makes a statement about hip hop dance and its cultural importance and artistic currency. We are over the moon that the Arts Council is supporting us to take our work around the UK and to be part of developing hip hop dance nationwide.” 

Joyce Wilson, Area Director, London, Arts Council England, said: “We are delighted to be able to support Breakin’ Convention and ZooNation Dance Company through our Strategic touring programme; it is a clear illustration of the breadth and quality of work that we value and support. These tours will not only showcase some of the best hip hop dance theatre in the world, but also support the professional development of emerging hip hop dance talent and leaders across England.”

 

Image: Wanted Posse performing at Breakin’ Convention in 2014. Photo: Belinda Lawley