Digital

Dansathon 2018: London winners announced

A dance project that aims to humanise technology, masterminded by team ‘Digital Umbilical’, was named as the London winner of Dansathon 2018; the first European Dance hackathon, taking place in three cities over three days. The project was created in response to the question ‘How can technology be soulful? and devised by Designer Salomé Bazin, Facilitator Laura Buffard, Developer Simon Haenggi, Communicator Katelyn Notman, Dancer Jon Rowe, Technician/Maker Adam Seid Tahir and Choreographer Renaud Wiser. They were awarded the Dansathon trophy by a jury panel which included leading dance-makers and industry figures at technology hub, Plexal, based in Stratford’s Here East.

Their idea centred on creating connections between strangers, and using the body’s senses in conjunction with new technologies to build a shared experience. In a collaboration between performer and audience member, both parties used wearable technology to interweave the breath of the dancer and the pulse of spectator into a unique soundscape. Through directly experiencing someone else’s physicality and emotional state, the human was kept at the heart of this technological experience.

Alistair Spalding, CEO and Artistic Director of Sadler’s Wells, said of Digital Umbilical’s project: “The jury members thought that this proposal had found a way that new technologies can enhance the empathy between performer and audience in a unique and intimate way, using these tools to bring people closer together as human beings.”

Over three days in three cities – London, Liège and Lyon – 90 participants developed new innovative projects to imagine the future of dance, with a particular focus on digital technologies. This was Europe’s first dance hackathon, where participants were invited to mix dance and technology to imagine new forms of art, new stages, new experiences and interactions.

The 35 London participants were selected from 168 applicants after an open call, with equal numbers having expertise in dance, choreography, creative technology, design, physical object making, media and communication, and facilitation.

A jury in each of the locations selected a winner, set to receive a grant of €10,000 from the BNP Paribas foundation and support from the respective host institution to help develop their idea – Sadler’s Wells in London, Maison de la Danse in Lyon, and Théâtre de Liège. London’s jury was formed of Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding; Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Wayne McGregor; BNP Paribas Foundation supported artists Honji Wang and Sébastien Ramirez; writer and speaker on digital innovation in the arts and cultural sector Bhavani Esapathi; UX (User Experience) designer and Afrotech Fest founder Florence Okoye; theatre writer Lyn Gardner; Chaniya-Rose Manning-Onolaja, a member of Legacy Youth Voice, helping to shape the future of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and create opportunities for young east Londoners; and Jane Ayaduray, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, BNP Paribas UK.

Our congratulations also go to Vibes… in Lyon and Cloud Dancing in Liège for their winning projects.

You can watch a video of the announcement below:

Dansathon is an initiative of Fondation BNP Paribas, in partnership with Maison de la Danse de Lyon, Sadler’s Wells and Théâtre de Liège.

Image: Andreea Tufescu

A behind-the-scenes look at Wilkie Branson’s digital craftsmanship

TOM is a dance for camera installation created by award-winning choreographer and film-maker Wilkie Branson, a Sadler’s Wells New Wave Associate. This cutting-edge new work receives its world premiere in November as one of our landmark 20th anniversary commissions, and new performances have just been added due to popular demand. We spoke to Wilkie to find out more about his unique creative process.

Wilkie is an interdisciplinary dance-artist and film-maker with a talent for storytelling, bringing together the magic of the man-made and the wonder of technology. Self-taught in both dance and film, the roots of his practice lie in b-boying, developing into a unique fusion which emphasises emotional connection (demonstrated in his previous works Varmints and Boing!). Sadler’s Wells first premiered Wilkie’s work in 2011 with White Caps, followed by Varmints in 2013, based on the award-winning book by Helen Ward and directed by children’s theatre specialist Sally Cookson. It was co-produced and commissioned by Sadler’s Wells with the help of East London Dance and Stratford Circus. Following a successful opening run, Varmints went on to tour nine cities in the UK.

Since 2015, Wilkie has been further developing his work in film. This year, as part of our ‘20 for 20’ series of commissions, he has created a digital installation using layers of a special screen to create depth and a three-dimensional effect. Instead of generating models entirely digitally, he has crafted maquettes by hand that are subsequently digitised in a process called photogrammetry. This process creates a poignant, organic physical landscape, questioning our emotional relationship to the real, the digital and ourselves.

“The starting point for TOM was really the essence of a story I wanted to tell about loss of identity and estrangement from the people we were when we were going up – asking questions about who we are as we try to navigate our lives as adults”, explains Wilkie. “Once the idea was there, the narrative and the inhabitants of this world became clearer. It was then a process of working out the best tools to share that vision with an audience.

The intricate process of Wilkie’s workflow and his intertwining of physical and digital crafts can be seen in the above video. Marked by an interdisciplinary approach to the creative and performing arts, Wilkie’s extensive research into technology and development clearly shines through in the seamless blending of film, live dance and animation into a unified three-dimensional digital installation.

“The most difficult part in the creation of TOM has definitely been making decisions on where, and where not, to compromise. The amazing thing about making an animated work like this is that, in principle, it’s possible to create anything that I can imagine. The challenges that arise from the complexity and scale I’m working at forces me to make decisions all the time about what to develop further, leave out or push to include. It’s a real challenge when you know what is possible to do, but impossible to implement. It’s a constant tussle between dreaming, letting go, compromising and pushing on.” 

The world premiere of TOM takes place in the Lilian Baylis Studio on 15 – 17 November. Tickets are available now via the Sadler’s Wells website.

Wilkie Branson is one of Sadler’s Wells’ six New Wave Associates, alongside Julie Cunningham, Hetain Patel, Project O, L’atisse Rhoden and Alexander Whitley. Read more about our New Wave Associates on our website. More of Wilkie Branson’s video work can be found on his Vimeo account

Watch Akram Khan in new digital art film XEN

Sadler’s Wells has commissioned Associate Artist Akram Khan to create a short film, XEN, inspired by XENOS, his final new full-length solo which receives its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells on 29 May 2018.

Watch the full film below:

Created especially for the screen, XEN is a reimagined version of Akram Khan’s live performance, and is a response to XENOS’ evocation of the shell-shocked dream of a colonial soldier in the context of the First World War.

Meaning ‘stranger’ or ‘foreigner’, XENOS takes place where humanity stands in wonder and disarray, on the border between East and West, past and present, mythology and technology. The live production of XENOS reveals the beauty and horror of the human condition and seeks to express tales of loss, hope and redemption, through a movement language that shifts between classical kathak and contemporary dance.

XEN is produced by Illuminations for Sadler’s Wells, and is part of Sadler’s Wells’ commitment to developing new forms of dance which reach new audiences.

Akram Khan is one of the most celebrated and highly regarded dance makers working today. He has collaborated with artists including actress Juliette Binoche, ballerina Sylvie Guillem, choreographers/dancers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Israel Galván, singer Kylie Minogue, visual artists Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley and Tim Yip, writer Hanif Kureishi and composers Steve Reich, Nitin Sawhney, Jocelyn Pook and Ben Frost. A career highlight was the creation of a section of the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, set to Emeli Sandé’s rendition of Abide with Me.

Akram Khan became a Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist in 2005. Sadler’s Wells has co-produced many works with Akram Khan Company, including his acclaimed solo work DESH.

XENOS was commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary. It is part of Sadler’s Wells’ 20th anniversary celebrations, and is among 20 commissions celebrating 20 years of the current building, which opened in 1998.

Join The Movement!

The Lowry, Salford, Birmingham Hippodrome and Sadler’s Wells in London are uniting in a new Arts Council funded initiative called ‘The Movement’ to promote dance across the UK.

These three venues are looking for dance lovers to become their Social Movers – a dedicated team committed to supporting great dance, and keen to share their love of dance with a wider audience online.

Benefits include:

  • Free tickets to selected shows in your region’s Dance Season for the next 12 months.
  • Behind-the-scenes access to some of our most important events of the year.
  • The chance to meet some of the performers and choreographers who work on our productions.

Over the next twelve months, our three venues will be hosting a diverse range of dance productions, including Carlos Acosta‘s new Cuban dance company Acosta Danza, BalletBoyz’s new work 14 Days, Darbar Festival curated by Akram Khan, Matthew Bourne‘s Cinderella, and Birmingham Royal Ballet‘s classic The Nutcracker.

WE NEED YOU!
The Movement is looking for nine special people from the North West, West Midlands and London areas who would be interested in becoming one of our exclusive Social Movers.

As one of our Social Movers you will be invited to come and see live dance events in your region completely free, get to go behind-the-scenes, meet the professionals involved and share your experience by sharing your own videos and social content with others on our The Movement social media channels.

In addition, if you run or are part of a local dance group or class, we want to hear from you too. We will be giving local organisations the chance to have their homegrown talent featured on our social media channels by being directly involved our monthly events, competitions, and even get the opportunity to see some of our productions. We want to hear from everyone from children’s ballet groups to seniors’ movement classes, belly dancers to Zumba class regulars.

If you think you have what it takes, The Movement wants to hear from you!

HOW TO APPLY
We’re looking for passionate, enthusiastic people who love dance and who are social media savvy, so if you fall under one of the categories below we want to hear from you:

The Enthusiast – Are you a seasoned fan of the world of dance who has to see everything and knows almost everything there is to know about dance?

The Student – Are you attending a local training academy or dance school and looking to making dance a career?

The Newcomer – Are you an individual who is entirely new to the world of dance but has a keen interest in learning more, perhaps an amateur dancer in their spare time who enjoys classes during the week?

Regional Dance Organisation – Are you a member of or run a regional dance school, group or class? We are also looking groups who are up for showcasing their collective talents online each month.

Applicants need to submit a one-minute video of yourself telling us who you are, what you do, and why you think you should be a Social Mover.

Here are a few things we are looking for in a successful candidate:

  • Active profiles on social media in particular Facebook, YouTube and Instagram
  • The ability to create fun and engaging social content
  • A tech savvy & creative individual.
  • You’re a proactive and reliable person.
  • Access to your own laptop, camera and smart phone.
  • Able to create at least one piece of content per month and/or attend an event, as well as live in or easily travel to Manchester, Birmingham or London.
  • If you are applying on behalf of a regional dance organisation you must also be based in or near Manchester, Birmingham or London and include a short video of choreography featuring your members and us with any supporting material e.g. website, social media or supporting video links.

We welcome applications from people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, abilities and nationalities. C
Click here to read the Terms and Conditions of the Social Movers programme.

Email your application to themovement@thelowry.com

Successful candidates to be shortlisted after the 15 September 2017 by The Lowry, Salford, Birmingham Hippodrome and the Sadler’s Wells, London.

Explore Sadler’s Wells on Google Street View

Visiting Sadler’s Wells has just become even easier – in fact, you don’t even have to get out of your room.

Our building has been mapped with Google Street View cameras and you can now see the images using this link, or access them directly from Google Maps. You simply need to zoom in on Sadler’s Wells and drop the yellow peg man, in the lower right corner, on any of the blue lines that appear inside the building, which indicate the routes that have been captured.

Enjoy having a look around!

What happens when fashion meets dance

Sadler’s Wells’ production Gravity Fatigue, created by designer Hussein Chalayan in collaboration with choreographer Damien Jalet in 2015, is featured in a brand new video exploring what happens when fashion and dance meet.

The video has been released as part of Arts Council England’s digital initiative Canvas, which  aims to engage new and young audiences with the arts by bringing them videos on exciting cultural projects each week.

You can watch the video here.

 

Photo: Hugo Glendinning.

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.

Sadler’s Wells partners with digital broadcasting agency for live streaming events

Sadler’s Wells has partnered with digital broadcasting agency Streaming Tank to offer live streaming, webcasting and encoding to events clients.

The agency, which has been delivering award-winning online events for venues, agencies, fashion shows and concerts for a decade, is now the preferred supplier for Sadler’s Wells. This allows the organisation to now offer live streaming and webcasting services as part of its corporate events offering. The new partnership follows the recent refurbishment project, which included a £700,000 investment in improving technological facilities at the venue.

Sadler’s Wells Event Manager Georgie Smith said: “We’re delighted to be able to offer such a high-level of technical support to our clients. With our in-house tech support team and now the partnership with Streaming Tank, we’re really proud to be taking things up a notch in terms of our tech offering here at Sadler’s Wells.”

Streaming Tank’s CEO James Wilkinson added: “We’re absolutely delighted to be announced as the preferred supplier by Sadler’s Wells. We have already delivered many live streams from the venue and it’s such a flexible space, with such a wide range of events, that we can see a huge opportunity here. We’re really looking forward to working alongside the tech team at the venue and helping to support Sadler’s Wells’ clients with any webcasting, social streaming and live streaming requirements they may have – allowing productions to deliver the event experience to those outside the venue and around the world.”

 

Image: Preparations for a corporate event at Sadler’s Wells.