Sadler’s Wells’ Elixir festival will be among the examples of best practice in highlighting the contribution of older dancers to be presented at Age on Stage this summer.
Following successful editions in 2015 and 2017, Age on Stage – the brainchild of Swedish choreographer Charlotta Öfverholm – returns with a one-day festival of activities on 2 June in celebration of dancing at a mature age. Taking place at Dansens Hus in Stockholm, the event includes a documentary screening, performances by dancers over 45, talks and presentations.
Among the speakers is our Director of Learning & Engagement Joce Giles, who will discuss the Elixir festival at Sadler’s Wells. The festival, which we programmed for the first time in 2014, recognises the contribution to the art form made by older dancers and challenges assumptions about who can dance. By showcasing the richness and benefits of creativity in later life, it wants to promote discussion on the value of dancing at an older age, and to advocate for more work created and performed by older artists to be made and shared with wider audiences. It also hopes to encourage more older people to take up dancing as a way to be physically and mentally active.
Our commitment to this issue is longstanding. We have been running two initiatives aimed at engaging over-60s in dance at Sadler’s Wells for many years: the Lilian Baylis Arts Club and the Company of Elders. The Lilian Baylis Arts Club gives participants the opportunity to learn more about dance and our programme through weekly meetings with artists and performers, workshops and visits to shows. The Company of Elders, established in 1989, is the embodiment of the social and health benefits of dancing at 60+. The company has worked with internationally renowned choreographers and performed in prestigious venues across the UK and overseas, from the Houses of Parliament to the Venice Biennale.
The Elixir Festival was born as a natural continuation and expansion of our work with older dancers. Following the success of its first edition, we presented the festival again in 2017, with a successful four-day programme of performances, workshops and events.
Other speakers in attendance at Age on Stage will be Christopher Roman, former Associate Artistic Director of The Forsythe Company and Artistic Director of DANCE ON ENSEMBLE, who performed at Elixir last year; and Cecilia Ferm-Almqvist and Ninnie Andersson from Luleå Tekniska Universitet, who will present the results of their research on workshops for people aged 65+.
Dance artist Liz Aggiss will be performing excerpts of her show Slap and Tickle, while Charlotta Öfverholm will also give a special performance, in addition to hosting the mini-festival.
Age on Stage is part of Dance On, Pass On, Dream On (DOPODO); a European-wide partnership project devoted to challenging preconceived notions about age and promoting a model of sustainable career and audience participation that values older people on stage and, generally, in society. DOPODO involves nine dance organisations, including Sadler’s Wells, from eight European countries, and receives funding from Creative Europe, a European Union programme supporting the cultural sector. The Elixir Festivals in 2014 and 2017 were kindly supported by the Baring Foundation.