national youth dance company

National Youth Dance Company announces Guest Artistic Directors for 2019 – 2021

Our resident National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), home to some of the country’s brightest young dance talent, has appointed its next two Guest Artistic Directors: Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Russell Maliphant in 2019-20 and acclaimed choreographer Alesandra Seutin in 2020-21.

The company will begin creating a new commission with Russell Maliphant in autumn 2019. He takes over from current Guest Artistic Director, the Olivier award-winning dance artist Botis Seva whose work for NYDC, MADHEAD, premiered at DanceEast in Ipswich on 20 April. MADHEAD tours to six further venues across England this summer, closing at Sadler’s Wells on 19 July.

Now in its eighth year, NYDC has established a reputation for innovative, challenging and influential work, producing open-minded and curious dancers. The company brings together the brightest talent from across England, immersing the members fully in the process of creating, performing and touring new work, giving them a unique insight into the dance profession.

National Youth Dance Company 2018-19

Russell Maliphant, NYDC Guest Artistic Director 2019/20, said: “I am very happy to be working as the next Guest Artistic Director for National Youth Dance Company. NYDC provides great opportunities for young dancers to develop in to world class performers – I have seen this in action over the years and have personally worked with some of that talent in my own company.  I’m looking forward to starting this season with another new generation of dancers here in the UK.”

Alesandra Seutin, NYDC Guest Artistic Director 2020/21, said: “I am very excited and honoured to work with National Youth Dance Company as Guest Artistic Director in 2020/21. I look forward to breaking boundaries with the dancers of the future, and having the opportunity to be part of this beautiful process is amazing. With the support of Sadler’s Wells, I hope to continue growing as a leader and a maker collaborating with NYDC to keep its reputation for innovative, challenging and influential work, producing open-minded and curious dancers.”

About the new Guest Artistic Directors

Russell Maliphant established his own dance company in 1996 as the framework to create productions and work with his own ensemble of dancers. Since then, he has received two Olivier awards, three South Bank Show awards and four Critics’ Circle National Dance awards. He became an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells in 2005.

Russell’s work has been performed by renowned dance artists including Sylvie Guillem, BalletBoyz, Munich Ballet and English National Ballet, for whom his piece Second Breath was part of the critically celebrated programme Lest We Forget. Two graduates of NYDC, Edd Arnold and Folu Odimayo, make up part of the Russell Maliphant Dance Company and can be seen performing in Silent Lines at Sadler’s Wells, on 18 & 19 October.

Performer, choreographer and teacher Alesandra Seutin grew up in Brussels and lives in London. She studied dance internationally and continued her training at the École des Sables in Senegal as a student of Germaine Acogny. She is now a worldwide ambassador of the Acogny technique and teaches at École des Sables and globally. In 2007, she founded Vocab Dance Company, and has progressively built an international reputation for creating thought provoking and visually striking performances. 

Alesandra presented Boy Breaking Glass as part of Sadler’s Wells’ 20th anniversary commission, Reckonings, in October 2018 alongside works from Sadler’s Wells New Wave Associate Julie Cunningham and current NYDC Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva.


NYDC has begun its search for the next intake of 30 young dancers to join the company, with NYDC Experience Workshops taking place across England until 8 July.

The organisation has been granted further support for the two years ahead from the Department for Education and Arts Council England, to continue nurturing the country’s young dance talent and to build on the dance artists of the future.

For full NYDC tour dates and tickets for MADHEAD, click here.

“They’re from all walks of life, but they’re already like a family”: NYDC from behind the scenes

Last week, National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) embarked on its fourth and final residency at Sadler’s Wells ahead of debuting its new work MADHEAD, choreographed by Olivier-award winning Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva.

We spoke to Jordan Douglas and Ezra Owen, members of the hip hop theatre collective Far From the Norm and assistant choreographers to Botis, about the journey with NYDC so far.

What has your experience been like as part of the creative team for NYDC, and what have you been working on with the company?

Jordan: It’s been a challenging one – we’ve had to learn what the company dancers are doing as well as help Botis with creative input, so you have to be in two minds all of the time. You have to be switched on and have that mindset ready… have the material ready in case someone forgets their counts. I’d say Ezra has it the hardest though!

Ezra: (laughs) I’m working with both groups, so I guess I have to know pretty much everything. One of the things we’ve been trying to get NYDC to have is presence; because there are so many of them, it’s easy to get lost and just become a number. So even though it’s all about working together, it’s equally about getting them to bring individual presence on stage.

NYDC is currently on its final residency. How have the young people in this cohort changed from their first residency back in October?

Jordan: [The change has been] so drastic. The majority of them are contemporary-based, while our movement is more hip-hop based. The way they moved was a lot more upright, they had a different posture to their movement completely. They’ve had to have that broken down, because the movement initially was quite unnatural to them. It’s taken a little while, but they’re getting there.

Ezra: It’s been interesting watching the company develop from residency to residency. There are areas where they’ve picked up more technique, their movement has become a bit more advanced.

With the responsibility of training and facilitating some of the country’s brightest young dance talent firmly in your hands, do you ever feel any pressure?

Jordan: When you’re teaching something and you get it wrong, you feel it! The stuff that we’re used to within the ‘Norm’ experience is this: if Botis is working on something with one person, everyone else starts going over the material up until that point. Whereas with NYDC, they will watch and wait until you’re ready. It’s a different dynamic. But other than that, I don’t feel that much pressure because they’re so good. Wherever we need to get to, I know we’ll get there.

What has most impressed you working with NYDC participants?

Ezra: I think they’re quite open-minded. I feel like when I was younger, I only really liked to do what I was good at. The dancers we’ve been working with in NYDC, they’re really open to trying new things. Even if they feel weird at first, they just crack on with it. Once they get into it, they’re really determined to embody whatever it is that we throw at them. It’s really encouraging to see.

Jordan: Because they’re so diverse, they’ve learned from each other – that’s what’s impressed me. When you’re from a contemporary background and you’re standing next to someone from a hip-hop background, there’s more of an exchange. When everyone is in tune, and when you combine the length of a contemporary dancer with the power of a hip-hop dancer – it’s really quite powerful. They’re from all walks of life, but they’re already like a family. They also don’t quit too easily – they put up a fight.

How do you get everyone prepared and ‘in the zone’ for long, intensive rehearsal days?

Jordan: We’ve taken over from Botis in terms of doing warm up over the past few days, and I think a lot of it is about just trying to be a good role model; stretching when you need to stretch, making sure that you warm up properly in front of them, showing them the quality of the movement – so that they can see that we’re not just saying it, but that we’re doing it as well, with them.

The most important thing we can do really is try and keep them on track. I guess we’re like their big brothers and big sister. Whenever they’ve got a spare moment, we get them to go over something. We make sure that they’re taking care of each other.

Beforehand it was a case of: “If I’ve got it, I don’t need to go to other people, I just need to worry about myself”, whereas now I feel like they’ve become more of a company. They’re more likely to go and ask someone: “Do you want to go over this bit?” and help them get to where they need to be. They’re more eager to ask others to get the information and support that they need. That’s helped them a lot and allowed them to develop a lot quicker.

Finally, what are your key ingredients for a great performance?

Ezra: You’ve got to condition your body, that’s key to a strong performance. If your body is conditioned, you can last the endurance of the piece.

Jordan: From behind the scenes, I’d say hard work, practising when you’re not in the studio and listening to the music.

And on the stage?

Ezra: When performing, I’d say to use each other’s energy. There’s only so much you can give as an individual. If someone has more energy during the piece, use that and vice versa – you’ve got to give that energy back as much as you take from it. That’s very important.

Jordan: One thing that you can struggle with in the performance is just being ‘in it’. So whatever the character or mood of the section is, it’s about trying to fully embody that. You get that added layer of performance so that it’s not just about movement – you’re doing it for a reason.

Ezra: Yeah, when you’re in a section you have to be in that section and try not to think about the next, as hard as it is. You’ve got to allow room to fully immerse yourself in it. That way the audience will be constantly captivated and engaged throughout the whole performance, because you are.

Pictured (left to right): Jordan Douglas and Ezra Owen
Images: Camilla Greenwell

MADHEAD premieres at DanceEast on 20 April 2019. From June, the production embarks on a national tour across Plymouth, Newcastle, Essex, Brighton and Birmingham, closing at Sadler’s Wells on 19 July.

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

Go behind the scenes at Sadler’s Wells with #DancePassion

We’re excited to be part of #DancePassion – a new festival organised by BBC Arts in collaboration with One Dance UK, showcasing extraordinary dance from the four corners of the UK. As part of the live streaming day on Friday 5 April, we’re taking you behind the scenes at Sadler’s Wells to join exceptional dance-makers as they create and rehearse three works at different stages of development. We’ll be live streaming all the action on the Sadler’s Wells Facebook page and at www.bbc.co.uk/dance


Live from Sadler’s Wells
Friday 5 April

1.30pm
Akram Khan Company

Our Associate Artist Akram Khan invites you in to a rehearsal for his new company production, Outwitting the Devil. Drawing inspiration from the most recently discovered tablet from the Epic of Gilgamesh, Akram and his collaborators are creating the narrative of six characters seeking to make whole the fragments of ancient knowledge lost and forgotten over time.

3pm
English National Ballet

Dancers from our Associate Company English National Ballet rehearse Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Broken Wings, based on the life and art of Frida Kahlo. It’s one of three pieces featured in She Persisted, a programme of work by female choreographers performed at Sadler’s Wells on 4 – 13 April. She Persisted continues English National Ballet’s commitment to showcasing women’s voices in dance, and follows 2016’s celebrated She Said programme.

4pm
National Youth Dance Company

National Youth Dance Company is made up of 38 talented young dancers from all over England who are keen to make their mark on the dance world. Eight dancers from the company rehearse their new work MADHEAD with Olivier-nominated choreographer Botis Seva, this year’s Guest Artistic Director. Drawing on Botis’ unique movement language of physical theatre and hip hop, and on the exuberant, impulsive energy of youth culture, MADHEAD makes its world premiere at Ipswich’s DanceEast on 20 April, followed by a national tour culminating at Sadler’s Wells.

You can watch all the action live on the Sadler’s Wells Facebook page and see the full #DancePassion schedule on www.bbc.co.uk/dance

Akram Khan Company, English National Ballet, One Dance UK and Sadler’s Wells are among Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations. National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) is supported using public funding by the Department for Education and Arts Council England.

“Sweat, hard work and heart-warming experiences”: NYDC members rehearse MADHEAD

National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) is preparing for the premiere of its new work MADHEAD, choreographed by Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva, in April. Here, two young dancers share their thoughts on the company’s recent intensive periods of rehearsals.

Dancer Ewelina Kosinska, from Surrey, is 18.

“Going into our second residency in December, I was curious and excited to finally start proper work on our piece. Knowing how hard the previous, three-day residency was, I knew seven days would be overwhelming. I can honestly say it was the most exhausting week of my life when I look back, but in the moment it didn’t feel like it. I was so thrilled and motivated the whole time.

I had to be very focused as we learned so much choreography in those days, but it didn’t seem so much because I was loving every minute of it. At the end of each day, it really helped to have Sheela, who led meditation and relaxation techniques sessions with us; it helped me absorb daily information and gave me time to focus on my internal wellbeing.

Ahead of our third residency of nine days I am now even more determined,  as I now know how much focus and effort I need to put in for the piece to look amazing. I already feel like the show will be incredible and it’s the most exciting project I have ever gotten to be a part of so far.”

NYDC with Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva (left) and his creative team in rehearsals.

Dancer Kendra Chiagoro-Noel is 19 and from London.

“Arriving in Hull for our third residency in February, I was greeted by smiling faces and an eagerness to jump right back into the studio together, to pick up where we’d left off. I was buzzing, slightly nervous and full of excitement.

Getting back into the material and remembering steps and qualities with the premiere looming was definitely a challenge. A lot of personal reassurance and collective motivation helped us all overcome frustrations and energy levels to push through. 

The perseverance definitely paid off and the choreography was really getting into our bodies and beginning to take shape. It was so reassuring to see us adjusting to the physical demands and fully enjoying and embracing the movement through our rising confidence in the material. 

With the premiere so close and the vision of the piece becoming clearer to us, having the opportunity to see the costumes, talk to Botis and his company Far From The Norm, the lighting designers and production team as part of a Q&A session made it even more exciting.

The days flew by! It was a blur of sweat, hard work and heart-warming experiences. Coming home, I felt stronger, energized and ready to keep going – I even went for a run! I can’t wait to be back in April!”

MADHEAD premieres at DanceEast in Ipswich on 20 April. It then tours to Plymouth, Newcastle, Essex, Brighton and Birmingham, closing at Sadler’s Wells on 19 July.

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

NYDC and Corali deliver inclusive workshops inspired by dance film

Last summer, National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) teamed with Corali Dance Company to create a short dance film. It was directed by Paul Davidson, a Corali dancer who has been with NYDC for two years.

Paul has autism and was interested in creating a piece of art with an inclusive cast of disabled and non-disabled dancers. The film and accompanying documentary were created over a three-day residency. The final result was Escape the Nowhere, a piece following a young man trapped in a maze that creatively explores the idea of parallel co-existing perspectives and realities.

With the finished product in hand, Sadler’s Wells have worked with Paul, NYDC alumni and Corali to develop a two-hour workshop that uses the film as a stimulus for the making and exploration of new movement. In tandem, the film was screened across the country enjoying success at venues and events from Croydon to Durham.

Zara Rush, Creative Producer at Corali Dance Company was optimistic the partnership: “Corali Dance Company were delighted to act as inclusive lead for this partnership with NYDC. The project grew from strength to strength and enabled young people to find their artistic voice, take the lead and share practice. It’s been great to see how young dancers across the country have gone on to explore the themes from Escape the Nowhere in the projects legacy workshops and how they’ve made new creative discoveries for themselves.”

You can see the video documenting the creation process here:

The workshop series was delivered in tandem with key regional partners. Magpie Dance were the first to experience the session and their co-Artistic Director Natasha Britton has spoken about the experience

“We were thrilled to welcome NYDC alumni Paul and Kennedy, who delivered two-hour workshops to both our junior and youth groups on day one of our Easter intensive.

The workshops were confidently delivered and rich with creative challenges, all pitched at an appropriate level for our dancers with learning disabilities. The creative tasks they chose all linked back to the dance film made by Paul, Escape the Nowhere. Having watched the film, this allowed our participants to really engage with the theme and the process.

After the workshops, the facilitators at Magpie Dance supported the Easter School participants to further develop the ideas they had explored, leading to the creation of their own piece. At the end of the third and final day, family and friends were invited to watch Escape the Nowhere and our piece inspired by it. The participants and their families were hugely grateful for the opportunity to use such a powerful dance film as a stimulus and work with such exciting visitors.”

Click through to learn more about Corali Dance Company and Magpie Dance

Photo credit: Natasha Mansfield-Osborne
Video credit: Tobi Meneses

Miriam Levy on life in National Youth Dance Company

Miriam Levy, a current dancer in National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), reflects on her first residency with the company, which took place in October at DanceEast, Ipswich. The cohort worked with NYDC Associate Artist Neil Fleming Brown to bond as a company and to learn the the unique movement style of the company’s latest Guest Artistic Director Sharon Eyal, who they will begin rehearsals with in December.

My first residency with NYDC was a truly amazing experience and one I think will stick with me for a very long time. Some of my friends from the CAT scheme (Centre for Advanced Training Programme) were joining NYDC with me and before the residency they asked me if I was nervous to which I surprised myself by realising that I wasn’t. Getting into NYDC had been a big goal of mine so once I achieved it I was really excited to start and ready to start a totally new creative process. Once I arrived, we were really well taken care of and our parents were introduced to NYDC by the staff and returning dancers, who gave us some last minute advice. After this we travelled to Dance East where we went straight from the coach to the studio. We then started by improvising as a whole group to warm up, which was one of the highlights of the residency for me.

We were encouraged to watch each other for inspiration as we were moving and I found the other 40 dancers completely inspiring. In that moment and over the course of the residency I would find myself wanting to watch the other dancers more and more as everyone was so talented in different ways. The individuality of the other company members shone through even as we were trying to master Sharon’s very specific style. Trying to understand how her choreographic style would feel on my body was one of the biggest challenges of the residency for me, as watching videos of her moving reminded me just how different her style is to what I usually encounter in my training. We used to these videos as the start of creative tasks as individuals and in pairs and you could definitely see the progression of the material we made over the three days.

Starting to feel like I’m getting to grips with her style made me even more excited for the December residency, where Sharon is coming to start the creation process officially. This residency felt like a taster of the creation process and definitely left me excited for more. Something that surprised me about NYDC was the intensity of the schedule, and the level of professionalism expected of you as an NYDC member was a new experience for me. NYDC is designed to give you a taste of life in a professional company and one of the key parts of the experience is being in the studio all day every day whilst on residency. This was only a short residency (meaning we only had one complete day in the studio), but the sessions were very physically demanding and it was sometimes hard to maintain your creativity at the end of the long days. Despite this, the atmosphere in the studio was amazingly positive, everyone was completely committed to the tasks we were given and to dancing as best as we could.

One of the amazing things about NYDC is that it brings together people who are just as passionate about dance as each other from all around the country. I feel really grateful to have met people from the other side of the country, who I would never have had the opportunity to dance with otherwise. By the second day, my roommate and I were having a slightly surreal conversation where we couldn’t believe that we’d only met the day before because we already felt like we knew each other so well! The 40 dancers on the coach journey back had a very different dynamic to the 40 dancers who met each other at Sadler’s Wells. Everyone’s nerves had completely evaporated and we were chatting and literally singing together the entire journey home. I think we all felt the same sense of satisfaction of the connection we had made over the three days, as well as the dancing we achieved together.