East Bank

SADLER’S WELLS ENGAGES YOUNG PEOPLE IN DANCE WITH FREE SUMMER SCHOOLS

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.

On International Youth Day, we speak to some of the young participants in the two summer schools to ask about their experience.

Summer 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.

Spotlight centre, in Poplar E14 6GN.   Students will come from Tower Hamlets, Islington, Newham and Haringey

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.

What will you be facilitating in the workshop?

“During the course of the week, participants in the NYDC summer school will be taught by a different member of Far from the Norm each day. We will be teaching and introducing dancers to the foundations of different street styles such as house, locking, krump, popping and breaking. We will also be teaching sections from MADHEAD, Botis Seva’s recent production for National Youth Dance Company, as well as works from the company. I will be focusing specifically on house dance and gestural phrases from MADHEAD.”

NYDC Summer School participants.

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.”

NYDC Summer School participants with Associate Choreographer Jordan Douglas.

Why is dance a useful/important 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.”

At the end of the week, we asked some of the young participants to share some thoughts:

What did you learn during your week at the Summer School with NYDC and Far From The Norm?

“I learnt a lot on how to develop myself as a dancer, but also on how to open up more to things that are difficult.”

“It was interesting to learn about new dance styles, and also to see how professional dancers work.”

“My favourite part was engaging and getting on with people as well as taking on new stuff that was given. I learned more about working together, but also having to learn quickly and keeping up at a fast pace.”

What three words would you use to describe how you felt before the workshop?

“Nervous, scared, anxious”

“Shy, inexperienced, insecure”

“Interested, anticipating, open”

What three words would you use to describe how you felt after the workshop?

“Optimistic, determined, confident”

“Creative, happy, educated”

“Courageous, challenged, proud”

NYDC Summer School participants.

East 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.

East Education Summer School promotional flyer. Image: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

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.

What was your favourite part of the workshop?

“Showcasing what I’ve got!”

“Having a good time.”

“Meeting new people.”

“Spitting some hard bars!”

“Learning new things.”

“Destroying the stage.”

“Embracing ourselves.”

East Education Summer School participants from Breakin’ Convention’s hip hop theatre workshop pictured with mentors. Image: Theo Godson

National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) is supported using public funding by the Department for Education and Arts Council England.

SADLER’S WELLS JOINS MAYOR OF LONDON FOR EAST BANK GROUND BREAKING

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan hailed “the biggest investment in our city in culture and education for more than a century” as he joined Sadler’s Wells, BBC, UAL’s London College of Fashion, UCL and the V&A in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the East Bank ground breaking ceremony. The exciting and transformative project will see a new cultural and education district built in Stratford, east London.

The Mayor was joined by deputy mayor for culture Justine Simons, Newham’s mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, Hackney’s mayor Philip Glanville and local schoolchildren as they buried a time capsule
at the UCL (University College London) East campus site – marking a milestone for the East Bank project and symbolising the positive impact it will have on future generations.

Deputy mayor for culture Justine Simons, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Newham’s mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and Hackney’s mayor Philip Glanville bury a time capsule to mark the start of construction of East Bank.

The historic moment was accompanied by a fanfare from a group of young east London musicians, specially commissioned by the BBC.

The East Bank project will bring together a collection of purpose-built spaces for its five partners, one of which will be our new venue, opening in 2022. As well as a 550-seat auditorium, Sadler’s Wells East will include six studios and support facilities for artist development and training, and for the creation of new dance work.

Render view of the Sadler’s Wells East building.

Britannia Morton, Sadler’s Wells’ Chief Operating Officer, said: “Our new mid-scale theatre represents a unique opportunity to place dance at the heart of what will be a global creative hub, allowing us to change the way we develop artists and to engage with a wider audience – on a local, national and international level.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “My vision for East Bank is one where everyone, regardless of their background, can access world-class culture and education on their doorstep. East Bank is a fantastic collaboration of inter-disciplinary work and world-class institutions that will drive forward growth and inspire more young Londoners to take up creative careers, transforming the communities of east London.”

Sadler’s Wells’ Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding (L) and COO Britannia Morton (R) join the Mayor of London, principals from the other East Bank partners and local school children for the groundbreaking. Image: Arts and Culture for Mayor of London.

Creating opportunities in the arts and cultural sector for young people represents an integral part of the project. Initiatives to nurture the next generation of creative professionals include STEP – a 12-month paid internship programme offered to young east Londoners, which Sadler’s Wells has supported as a founding partner with charity Create Jobs since its inception in 2017.

Andrew Adedipe talks about his experience as a STEP intern at Sadler’s Wells and the V&A at the reception for the groundbreaking event.

Ahead of opening the doors of our new venue in three years’ time, we have been working with the other East Bank partners and, more widely, with local schools, arts and community organisations. We regularly present dance in Stratford – most recently at Your Stratford Stage at IQL in May and The Great Get Together in the Olympic Park in June – and work in partnership with a number of east London schools to embed dance in the curriculum, as part of our Associate Schools initiative.

From 29 July to 9 August, we will also be running three different summer schools for young east Londoners – one of them, the East Education Summer School, delivered together with the East Bank partners – all of them free of charge for participants.

Sadler’s Wells and partners celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage

Together with our partners in the East Bank project, Sadler’s Wells hosted a free event in Stratford on 22 July, celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage. Held at Here East, Open Doors: Vote 100  was co-curated and jointly delivered by us alongside the BBC, the Smithsonian Institution, UAL’s London College of Fashion, University College London and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The family-friendly event featured  dance, music, poetry, displays, debates, workshops and screenings, all inspired by the the centenary of the UK’s 1918 Representation of the People Act, which gave some women the right to vote for the first time.

The Women Work Parade arrives at Here East

As part of the eclectic programme,  we presented performances by Company Wayne McGregor – a duet from our Associate Artist McGregor’s latest work Autobiography, co-produced by Sadler’s Wells – and Myself UK Dance Company, which presented a piece titled RED. Each of the two companies also delivered a free workshop, where participants had the opportunity to learn some moves from professional dancers.

Company Wayne McGregor performs a duet from Autobiography

 

Participants in the Company Wayne McGregor workshop

 

Myself UK Dance Company performs RED

 

Participants in the Myself UK Dance Company workshop

Dance artist Pepa Ubera speaks as part of the Long Conversation

Open Doors: Vote 100 was supported by Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Foundation for FutureLondon and Here East.

Sadler’s Wells joins the Great Get Together in the Olympic Park

Sadler’s Wells took over the Music and Dance Stage at Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park last Sunday for the Great Get Together. In this verdant spot in east London, among a variety of music, dancing, workshops and activities to engage the local communities, Sadler’s Wells presented a series of shows, including two performances of IZINDAVA, a performance and workshop from Casson and Friends, and a full programme from our Breakin’ Convention team.

Inspired by the memory of Jo Cox MP and supported by the Jo Cox foundation, the Great Get Together is an annual, nationwide initiative celebrating connections and commonalities among people through the setting up of free, community events.

IZINDAVA, performed by Tavaziva, was a synthesis of ballet, contemporary and African dance. The personal piece from Bawren Tavaziva’s company communicated a message about human fragility within a changing world, and the healing and redemptive power of music and dance. Extraordinary sculptural costumes and the intricate movements of the dancers had audiences enthralled.

Later in the afternoon, we presented Casson and Friends with The Dance WE Made, an interactive performance that saw the company collect dance moves contributed from the public over the course of the afternoon. This culminated in a wonderfully expressive piece, in which there was not one choreographer, but many. The dancers from Casson and Friends then led a free workshop, in which participants joined in pairs and devised dance moves based on – among other things – what they had for breakfast, their favourite party moves and a choice photographic pose. This was a particularly enjoyable half-hour, when open participation created a piece from the ground up.

Throughout the day, our Breakin’ Convention team staffed a pavilion where a variety of performances and workshops showcased different facets of hip hop culture, with a particular focus on engaging young people. Attendees could try their hand at graffiti, freestyle dance and rap. A popular highlight was the showcase from local schools that were part of Breakin’ Convention’s Moving Rap project, which over the course of two months saw pupils from eight east London schools combine spoken word, rap and dance into a performance piece. The result was a display of talent with impressive energy that drew in a huge crowd. Many congratulations to the students of Willowfields, Lister, St. Angela Ursuline, Our Lady’s Convent, Chobham Academy, Langdon Park, Rushcroft and Stormont House for their excellent work!

Other activities across the park included a storytelling tent, which captivated young audiences with readings from Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s Also an Octopus and Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffer’s Monkey Puzzle. Face painting stalls ensured there were a variety of decorated animals in among the guests. And the East Bank creative and engineering area offered interactive workshops led by University College London, the University of the Arts London’s London College of Fashion and architects Allies and Morrison.

Both UCL and UAL’s London College of Fashion are among our partners in the new, world-leading cultural and educational district that is being developed in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Sadler’s Wells will develop a new, mid-scale venue on the Stratford Waterfront site, where our building will be alongside new spaces for the BBC, the London College of Fashion and the V&A, in a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution. For those interested in learning more, join us at Here East on 22 July for Open Doors: Vote 100, the first event devised and delivered in tandem with all our partners in the project, celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage with performances, talks and activities.

The Great Get Together was a resounding success. The beautiful sunshine provided an ideal backdrop, as the local communities’ enthusiastic participation in the programme provided a perfect example of how we have much more in common than what divides us.

Follow the links for more information about the Jo Cox Foundation and the Great Get Together

Two young attendees try their hand at a graffiti workshop. Photograph: Alexander Peel.