Director of the National Youth Dance Company Jane Hackett talks to The Guardian‘s Culture professionals network about finding and nurturing young talent and why the government should make arts education a priority.
Sadler’s Wells’ Jane Hackett, National Youth Dance Company Director, talks about the company, its ongoing tour and plans for the future
Sadler’s Wells’ Chief Executive & Artistic Director Alistair Spalding said it was “an honour and a privilege” to be on the advisory panel who worked with Tanztheater Wuppertal to commission international choreographers to create new pieces for the company.
For their 2015-2016 season, Tanztheater Wuppertal has invited UK choreographers Tim Etchells and Theo Clinkhard and the Argentine-French duo Cecilia Bengolea & François Chaignaud to work with dancers from the ensemble and present work in a triple bill that will open the season in Wuppertal in September.
The selection of choreographers to commission was made in consultation with Spalding – who, over the years, has regularly invited the company to perform at Sadler’s Wells – as well as Myriam De Clopper, artistic director of deSingel in Antwerp, where the company has also performed, and Stefan Hilterhaus, executive and artistic director of PACT Zollverein.
Spalding said: “Our aim in devising this programme was to give the dancers of Tanztheater Wuppertal the possibility of a variety of different experiences in the creation period. The artists that we have chosen come from a broad range of backgrounds and experience and they will all bring their own specific approaches to the process. We are looking forward to seeing that process evolve and the results in September.”
Alongside the new works, in 2015-16 Tanztheater Wuppertal will be presenting 10 different pieces by Pina Bausch.
Photo: Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch ensemble performing Auf dem Gebirge hat man ein Geschrei gehört, by Karl-Heinz Krauskopf
On 7 June 2015, two of Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artists and its Associate Company celebrated winning prestigious awards at two separate ceremonies.
In London, English National Ballet collected the Dance award at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2015 for Lest We Forget, including choreographies by Liam Scarlett and Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artists Akram Khan and Russell Maliphant. The company will bring the successful production to Sadler’s Wells in September.
The Award for Outstanding Achievement was bestowed on dancer Sylvie Guillem for her 35-year career, which has seen her shine in both classical ballets and modern works and, in the process, redefine what a female dancer can be.
In New York, Christopher Wheeldon received the award for best choreography for An American in Paris at the 2015 Tony Awards. The musical also won the awards for Scenic design, Lighting design and Orchestrations.
A few days earlier, on 1 June, Wheeldon had shared the Best Choreographer gong at the Astaire Awards with Joshua Bergasse of On the Town. At the same ceremony, Akram Khan won the Best Choreographer in a Feature Film category for Desert Dancer.
This award bonanza follows the success of Sylvie Guillem and Crystal Pite at the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards in April – where Guillem was honoured with a special award and Pite won the Outstanding Achievement in Dance award for her choreography in A Picture of You Falling (as part of production The Associates), The Tempest Replica and Polaris (as part of Thomas Adès : See the Music, Hear the Dance) at Sadler’s Wells.
Congratulations to all artists on these much-deserved honours!
Image: English National Ballet performing Akram Khan’s Dust, part of Lest We Forget. Photography by ASH
Argentinian dance company Tango Fire won the Theatre Production of the Year gong at the Latin UK Awards (LUKAS) ceremony on 13 May for their popular show Flames of Desire, presented at The Peacock theatre earlier this year.
Described by dancer Carlos Acosta as “the hottest event in the Latin diary”, the annual awards ceremony celebrates the contribution of the Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American communities living in the UK in the fields of arts, sport, business and society.
This year’s gala – held at KOKO in Camden, north London – saw Sadler’s Wells’ Executive Producer Suzanne Walker and producer Sandra Castell-Garcia present the awards for dance.
Extraordinary dancers Germán Cornejo, known as Nikito, and Gisela Galeassi, who dazzled audiences in Flames of Desire, – which Nikito also choreographed – will return to London in June to perform in m¡longa, choreographed by Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.
Photo: Sadler’s Wells’ producer Sandra Castell-Garcia and Executive Producer Suzanne Walker present the dance gongs at the Latin UK Awards ceremony, by Patricia Cuenca
During the Easter holidays, the young cast who performed in Matthew Bourne’s Lord of the Flies in October 2014 participated in a skills workshop led by dance company ZooNation as part of the production’s legacy programme. The 22-strong cast, aged 11 to 22, were selected from 950 boys and young men from across the capital to perform alongside professional dancers from New Adventures in Matthew Bourne’s acclaimed show last year.
Thanks to legacy funding from New Adventures, Sadler’s Wells has been able to continue working with these young dancers. A year-long programme has been designed to extend the group’s knowledge and experience of dance through access to professional artists, skills workshops and performance visits.
Mentored by dance ambassadors Sam Cook and Shaun Dillon, the young dancers have so far learnt how to move like Edward Scissorhands in a workshop led by New Adventures in December; been gripped by BalletBoyz and their performance of Young Men at Sadler’s Wells in January and witnessed acrobatics in Cirkopolis at The Peacock in February.
Next up is a weekend focused on dance company Rambert. On Saturday 16 May, the group will attend a matinee performance of the company’s triple bill Dark Arteries/ Frames/ Four Elements. They will take part in a pre-show talk with Rambert’s Artistic Director Mark Baldwin, Music Director Paul Hoskins and composer Gavin Higgins, as well as a post-show Q&A session led by Liam Mower, company dancer and rehearsal director. On Sunday 17 May, the young dancers will visit Rambert’s studios in central London, where they will be given a tour of the building and take part in a three-hour workshop led by former company dancer Eryck Brahmania.
Photo: the young cast of Matthew Bourne’s Lord of the Flies in rehearsal in 2014.
Commissioning and producing original work for its three stages and touring it to major arts venues around the world is an integral part of Sadler’s Wells’ mission to promote the public’s enjoyment and understanding of contemporary dance and encourage the development of the art form. In 2013-14, 13 of Sadler’s Wells’ shows toured in 50 UK and international cities, attracting audiences of 121,000.
In the last few months, Sadler’s Wells productions have been enjoyed by audiences in four continents, from North America to Australia and from Asia to Europe.
Havana Rakatan’s USA premiere at City Center in New York at the end of February was a huge success, with audiences rising from their seats to cheer and dance to the Cuban beats well before the part in the show where performers usually invited them to get up and move to the music.
At the beginning of March, New York’s City Centre hosted another USA premiere – this time of Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artist Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s m¡longa. The show was positively received by critics and audiences alike for its imaginative choreography and the exceptional skills of its dancers, and continued to wow viewers in Serbia, where it toured to Novi Sad and Belgrade, before making a much anticipated trip to Arts Centre, Melbourne – m¡longa’s second visit to Australia since it played Sydney Opera House in 2014.
On 3 March, Sadler’s Wells presented Associate Artist Russell Maliphant’s duet Critical Mass as part of the UK’s GREAT Festival of Creativity in Shanghai. The performance was enjoyed by an invited audience of 900 delegates, including HRH The Duke of Cambridge. A few days later, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Sutra was performed to huge acclaim at the Wei-Wu-Ying Centre for the Arts, as part of the Kaohsiung Festival in Taiwan. As part of the warm welcome they received, the Shaolin Temple monks and the production’s team were treated to a tour of the new National Arts Centre currently under construction. Sutra then travelled on to France, where it stopped in four cities, completing its successful tour with a run at Maison de la Danse in Lyon.
Meanwhile, Associate Artist Sylvie Guillem’s Life in Progress received its world premiere at the Teatro Comunale Luciano Pavarotti in Modena, Italy, on 31 March. The sold-out show received a rapturous response from the audience and prompted a unanimous standing ovation.
Finally, Sadler’s Wells’ latest touring production Varmints – choreographed by Sadler’s Wells’ New Wave Associate Wilkie Branson in collaboration with children’s theatre director Sally Cookson – opened at the Lilian Baylis Studio on 3 April before heading off on a UK tour.
For a full calendar of Sadler’s Wells’ touring dates, visit www.sadlerswells.com/touring.
Photo: The cast and crew of Havana Rakatan in New York, by Andrew Lang
Sadler’s Wells presented the world premiere of Frame[d] by the National Youth Dance Company, choreographed by Associate Artist Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.
The 20 finalists have been announced ahead of the Grand Final at Sadler’s Wells on 9 May.