News

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 by 25 August 2017.

Works for me: A foot in the door

Winner of the 2016/17 Apprenticeship Award for the Best Work Placement/Intern Jade Leatham, tells us how participating in LLDC’s Creative and Cultural Opportunity Week, helped her land a role at Sadler’s Wells as Community Engagement Intern.

“I’m from Walthamstow and went to De Montfort University in Leicester to study a degree in arts and festival management.

Dance has always been my driving force. When I left uni I picked up bits of work and I was getting interviews but just couldn’t get a full-time role. Then I came across the Creative and Cultural Opportunity Week and managed to get a place. It started at Sadler’s Wells and then moved to places like Whitechapel Gallery, Stratford Circus and Here East.

There was amazing moral support and really focused on everyone’s individual needs. A lot of us needed that – it was really insightful to have mentors to help you figure out what to do next. It was good to talk to people in similar situations. You create a network just by being there.

The hardest thing about the arts is getting a foot in the door. The workshop week led to my internship at Sadler’s Wells for a six-month community engagement role. My role involved going into local communities and schools and introducing them to dance in different ways. It was impossible not to enjoy it.

After my internship I’ve now secured a role as an international examinations administrator at the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. The internship gave me the confidence I needed to push myself to the next level. Lots of people are capable of doing the jobs that are out there – you just need to prove you can actually do it.

I’m really passionate about getting people engaged in dance and I want to get my enthusiasm across. In the long-term I want to use all my skills and set up my own thing, although I’m not sure what that will be yet.”

Click here to find out more about the next Creative Opportunity Programme.

Young people create rap-inspired mural for Graffical 2017

Budding young rappers and aspiring creatives came together over June half term for Graffical 2017, a two-day workshop led by our Breakin’ Convention team.

A group of 13 to 16-year-olds from across London took part in the project, which aimed to engage young people with rap lyricism and spark their creativity through writing and visual art.

Mentored by rappers and educators Poetcurious and Kingpin, participants analysed their favourite rap songs, exploring the social and political issues addressed by the lyrics, as well as the personal meaning the words had to them. Alongside this, they worked on writing their own lyrics with the purpose of inspiring their families and communities.

The group also collaborated on a mural, which is on display at Corker Walk behind the Andover Estate in Islington, north London. Overseen by graffiti artist Mr Dane, the teens brought their words to life by incorporating themes from their lyrics into the sprayed work. Graffical 2017 was a huge success and the mural is a truly vibrant addition to its surroundings.

Thanks to Islington Word Festival for helping to fund the project and Lyrix Organix for collaborating with Breakin’ Convention to deliver it. We are also grateful to Samir from Emirates Stadium and Jacqueline Robinson from Islington Council who supported the project.

Image: the mural realised as part of Graffical 2017 at Corker Walk off the Seven Sisters Rd in Islington.

 

NYDC tours nationwide and announces new Guest Artistic Director

National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) is touring the UK this summer performing Tarantiseismic, a powerful exploration of melancholia, ritual, control and abandon by choreographer and current Guest Artistic Director Damien Jalet. The tour sees NYDC visiting six different venues, including a performance at Latitude Festival in Suffolk, before returning to Sadler’s Wells for the company members’ graduation from the programme at the end of July.

The production is going to be performed in Plymouth, Newcastle, Leicester, Birmingham and Ipswich, ending its run in Hull on 20th July. Alongside the tour, the company is also running experience workshops to engage hundreds of young people in dance. During the sessions, participants learn repertoire from NYDC productions, meet members of the company and receive advice on dance training. A new group of dancers for the 2017-18 programme will be selected based on these sessions.

NYDC has also announced Sharon Eyal as its new Guest Artistic Director for 2017-18. Jerusalem-born Eyal danced with Batsheva Dance Company between 1990 and 2008 and worked as its associate artistic director (2003-04) and resident choreographer (2005-12). In 2013, she founded L-E-V dance company with collaborator Gai Behar. L-E-V made its Sadler’s Wells’ debut with OCD Love in September 2016. Eyal will be leading the new NYDC cohort in the creation of its next production, which will premiere in spring 2018.

Sharon Eyal said: “I am so excited and thrilled to work with the National Youth Dance Company as Guest Artistic Director. I am looking forward to discovering what the new group of dancers can do, and cannot wait to create work together. I’m also thrilled to work with Sadler’s Wells again, who have supported my work previously with L-E-V. It is great to continue our cooperation.”

Alistair Spalding, Sadler’s Wells’ Artistic Director and Chief Executive, said: “Sharon made a great impression on audiences last year when she debuted in the UK with her dance company L-E-V at Sadler’s Wells. She has a distinct approach to her choreography by working collaboratively with dancers to bring the work to stage, which will be important for collaborating with the National Youth Dance Company and giving members the opportunity to shine. Sharon’s style in her work, such as the use of club music, will tune in to the experiences of the young NYDC dancers, and no doubt produce something very special for audiences to see.”

Image: NYDC in Tarantiseismic, photo by Tony Nandi.

Tapping into Michelle Dorrance

We spoke to Michelle Dorrance, founding member of tap sensation Dorrance Dance, about her career to date and the inspiration behind her work.

1. Tell us a bit about Dorrance Dance, how did the company come about?
The truth about what elements in my life led me to establish Dorrance Dance: I danced for almost too many New York City-based tap dance projects, companies, and choreographers from my late teens through my mid-twenties. I developed a solo career during that time as well, which extended through my time performing with STOMP in my late-twenties. I simultaneously started playing bass in my best friend’s band (Darwin Deez – who had some great songs in rotation on BBC Radio 1 not too long ago!) and we toured the US, UK, parts of Europe and Australia, before I realized I was trying to do WAY too much. It wasn’t until I broke my foot at the age of 30 that I was struck with how pertinent it was for me to put my vision for the possibilities I saw in tap dance, and in very specific tap dancers, first. This timing was met with a great opportunity to premiere new work at New York City’s beloved Danspace Project and the company was formed!

More formally, I created Dorrance Dance in hopes to share the incredibly dynamic range that tap dance has to offer; in order to engage with audiences on a musical and emotional level through dance; in order to spread the great history and legacy of this American art form throughout the country and the world. Of course, I love experimenting, creating my own work, my own choreography, my own compositions, but I love sharing the brilliant individual voices and styles that are pushing the form forward today.

2. How did you first become interested in tap dancing?
By 8 years old there was nothing I loved more than tap dance. What could possibly be more exciting than being a dancer and a musician at the same time?! My mother was a professional ballet dancer and I studied at her school from age 3 to 17. During this time, I was incredibly lucky to have Gene Medler as my tap teacher and mentor. He sought out the living masters of our form (people like “Honi” Coles, Buster Brown, “Peg Leg” Bates, Jimmy Slyde, The Nicholas Brothers, Cholly Atkins, who at the time were in their 70s, 80s, and 90s) and he took us all over the United States to study with them. He is a master educator and taught us the history of tap dance, its cultural significance, and its unique nature as both a form of movement AND music. I performed throughout the States and internationally with his North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble (NCYTE) for 10 years and I am the dancer I am today, because of him.

3. ETM: Double Down uses electronic boards to add to the sounds of your footwork, can you tell us about how this works? What does this add to the performance for you as a performer?
ETM: Double Down features what is essentially an electronic drum kit for the feet, designed by my choreographic collaborator, co-creator, and dear friend, Nicholas Van Young. Each small board that we play with out feet (we call them trigger boards) is connected to a computer and can be assigned any sound, note, instrument, anything you can imagine! Then, the entire set can change! Nicholas originally designed this particular way of interfacing with the technology in order to compose music live WHILE dancing/soloing to it. What we have been exploring in ETM: DD is the way our percussive composition/choreography for our feet can interface with a musical composition, where sometimes the dance is literally the dance of playing ONLY the melody or baseline of a song, and sometimes the dancers straddle the playing of a few notes each in order to make up the entire composition, while simultaneously executing separate tap choreography/percussive score. When you are in the midst of it, it is totally mind-blowing.

4. As well as using the electronic tap boards, ETM: Double Down also features live musicians. What’s the process of creating a dance piece so integrated in music? Are the musicians involved from day one?
First and foremost, we work with some very special musicians who love and respect tap dance and have a tremendous sensitivity to its collaborative, percussive compositional element. The development of the original music that we use in ETM happened in a myriad of ways so I’ll give you a number of fun examples: Nicholas Young, my co-choreographer composed some of the oldest segments in the show and was working on those before choreography started. He was the only composer around for “day one”. Greg Richardson, our bassist, composed a brilliant work for fun while we were in the creative process for ETM: The Initial Approach, never intending to have to play it live, but we absolutely fell in LOVE with it so he adapted the entire build of it to his looping pedal in tandem with dancers playing a repeating patterns on trigger boards that shift every 20 counts!

When we realized how we wanted to introduce ETM: Double Down to the audience conceptually and logistically, we asked one of our dancers, Warren Craft (who is also an electronic music composer), to work on the very opening segment for the show with very specific guidelines in relationship to how many trigger boards we could move with x number of dancers on stage at once. Once we were working on a section we call “piano” (in which 16 boards are lined up side by side), Donovan Dorrance, our pianist/controllorist (also my brother), composed an entire piece with the direction of dancers’ movement up and down a scale, toward and away from one another, in mind. And our vocalist, Aaron Marcellus IMPROVISES compositions (literally composing live every night) by layering his vocals on top of themselves using a Nintendo wi-mote. The compositional process for this show is incredibly arduous, but also extraordinarily rewarding!!

5. You were here at beginning of the year, performing an extract of ETM: Double Down as part of Sampled. What are you most looking forward to about performing the full ETM: Double Down at Sadler’s Wells?
We are most looking forward to connecting to, engaging, and ROCKING with the beautiful people of London, sharing with you all what we love most, illustrating how cutting edge and sophisticated tap dance is and inspiring less familiar audiences to see the endless possibilities in it! The extract we performed for “Sampled” was a tiny glimpse into only the acoustic section of the show. We are using this technology on a scale and in a way that has never before been done and we are SO EXCITED to bring this work to London and are honored to be performing at Sadler’s Wells!

You can see Dorrance Dance in action 12 – 15 July. Click here for more details.

Herb planting at Sadler’s Wells

At Sadler’s Wells, we have a Green Team that makes sure that all we do is as environmentally friendly as we possibly can. The team is responsible for overseeing the implementation of our Sustainability Action Plan and meets regularly throughout the year to review progress and discuss new ideas on how to further improve our environmental performance.

One of these ideas was for us to have our own, Sadler’s Wells-grown herbs. And so it was that Emma, our Director of Technical and Production and Chair of the Green Team, and Elsa, Administrative Assistant of the Visitor Services & Estates team, came in early one recent morning to haul around sacks of compost in our courtyard and plant parsley, sage, thyme, marjoram, chives and mint in a brand new planter built by Ghion, our resident carpenter in the Building Services team. The wooden herb planter is on wheels, so that it can be moved around to make the most of the sun.

Those summer mojitos will taste even better, knowing the mint comes from our own, mini herb garden!

 

Image: the new herb planter in the Sadler’s Wells courtyard.

Sadler’s Wells soaks up the sun and turns it into electricity

What better way to celebrate the summer than giving your photovoltaic cells a good clean? That’s exactly what Sadler’s Wells has done this week, as we prepare for the summer months. With average highs of 28 degrees this weekend, the solar panels will be working overtime to gather as much light as possible to turn in to sustainable energy.

Find out more about Sadler’s Wells’ sustainability policy on our website.

 

Image: solar panels on the roof of Sadler’s Wells’ building in Rosebery Avenue, Islington, London.

Nitin Sawhney receives Lifetime Achievement Ivor Novello award

Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artist Nitin Sawhney picked up the lifetime achievement honour at the Ivor Novello awards earlier this month. The British musician, producer and composer was presented with the award, which is bestowed in recognition of exceptional creative talent, by actor and director Andy Serkis at the event on 18 May.

Speaking to Music Week magazine, Sawhney explained what the accolade means to him: “The Ivor Novello Awards are the awards that I respect the most, because it’s from composers and songwriters. I know how the board works, and they are all very accomplished and seasoned musicians and writes. From that point of view, it’s an incredible accolade. I’m very proud to get it.”

Sawhney may have received a lifetime achievement award, but he is definitely not one to rest on his laurels. Among the projects he is currently working on, he is co-devising a brand new dance production with dancer and choreographers Honji Wang and Sébastien Ramirez (Wang Ramirez). The production, which is being made to Sawhney’s acclaimed 2015 album Dystopian Dream, will premiere at Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg in September 2017 and receive its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells in autumn 2018.

 

Image: Nitin Sawhney with his Lifetime Achievement award and its presenter Andy Serkis at the 62nd Ivor Novello Awards (2017). Photo: Mark Allan

Sadler’s Wells and Birmingham Royal Ballet launch Ballet Now

In association with Sadler’s Wells, Birmingham Royal Ballet has launched a new initiative to develop the choreographers, composers and designers of the future.

Ballet Now is a five-year programme of professional development, with BRB and Sadler’s Wells commissioning two works each year , supporting a total of six artists per year – one choreographer, composer and designer per commission. The commissions aim to support and champion artistic innovation, risk-taking and new choreographic practice.

Thanks to mentoring from BRB’s Artistic Director David Bintley, Koen Kessels, Music Director for BRB, and other experts in the dance industry, participating choreographers, composers and designers will have the opportunity to challenge their choreographic practice and develop creative collaborations for presentation on the large-scale, while gaining valuable skills in leading a creative process in a major ballet company.

Ballet Now’s launch coincided with the first meeting of the Creative Consortium, made up of David Bintley, Koen Kessels, Alistair Spalding (Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells), Cassa Pancho (Artistic Director, Ballet Black), Ted Brandsen (Director, Dutch National Ballet), Emma Southworth (Studio Programme Senior Producer, The Royal Ballet), Sally Beamish (Composer) and Sally Cavender (Director, Performance Music & Vice-Chairman, Faber Music). The first awarded commissions will be announced at Sadler’s Wells on 3 November 2017.

 

Image: Cinderella in rehearsal: David Bintley with Momoko Hirata and Jenna Roberts. Photo: Ty Singleton.

Meet Nora

We caught up with Eleanor Sikorski from Nora to find out more about the dancer-led initiative and what to expect from the much anticipated return of Nora Invites… in the Lilian Baylis on 1 and 2 June.

How did Nora come about?

Flora and I started Nora, essentially, so that we could do more dancing. We wanted to actively create situations in which we were working with choreographers and other artists that we loved in the studio: making, moving and performing. We were both at the end of a period of doing a lot of independent producing and curation, and we could see that in order to shift the nature of the work we were doing, from laptop to dance floor, we had to initiate something new and something big… or at least something that dramatically shifted our perception of our power as dancers. We also wanted to create a working model which could be robust enough to eventually involve more people, which we have done. Nora is now a trio! Stephanie McMann, Flora Wellesley Wesley and myself.

Nora is a dancer-led initiative. Do you generally approach choreographers yourselves, and what leads you to approaching particular choreographers/ dance artists?

Yes, we initiate everything. We have had a lot of help, guidance and support from others but we are quite strict about the fundamental decisions coming from us. It has always been important for us that Nora has the potential to take whatever shape we want it to, so we like to keep questioning what we are doing so that we don’t fall into any boxes without wanting to and we stay flexible to our and our collaborators’ needs. Each conversation with an artist starts a little differently, depending on if we know them well or not at all! The important things are that we love the work they make, that we believe they will engage with us as artists in the studio, that they are conscious of the power dynamics that Nora is trying to challenge and that they have an ethical approach to working… that might sound like a lot to ask, but there are plenty of people working like this!

Nora Invites is back after its run in 2015. Do you find the experience of performing the same pieces for 2 years has changed? Do you feel you have changed as individuals and as artists in that time?

We have changed a lot and the way we perform the show has really shifted. The main shift is that we have had time with the work and practice performing it so we feel much more confident and knowledgeable about what we are doing on stage. Stephanie (now co-artistic director with me and Flora) was our rehearsal director throughout the process of making the duets and her role has been key to us developing our relationship with the work – I think we have gone from being in awe of the work to feeling like we are the work, or, as dancers like to say, that we ‘own’ the work. I think our performances are better for it.

Nora Invites features three different pieces by three different creative teams with quite different moods. How do you adapt to the tone of each piece on the evening?

Liz Aggiss kept repeating a mantra to us throughout out her process which is, ‘The King is Dead! Long live the King!’. Essentially this just means drop it and move on. Next, next, next! She taught us this mantra in relation to what we do within her piece, but it is actually really useful for performing the whole evening and being able to leave each piece behind and move onto the next. The first time Simon Tanguy saw us performing the other duets he came backstage and said something along the lines of, ‘breathe, slow down and think floppy’. He saw that we needed to chill out before we could do his piece well. It’s not necessarily hard to get in to each new piece, it’s more difficult to get out of the previous one. You have to learn to drop it quickly, to shake off the residue and start again from nothing. We have very different relationships with all of the artists, so I find it is useful to just imagine each of them before we perform their work, and their imagined presence helps me to get in the right mood!

How involved have you been in the creative processes behind each piece? Does it differ piece to piece?

Each piece had a very different process. Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion gave us a musical score and set us the task of creating movement to the written rhythm. They essentially left us with it for six months, dropping in and out of the studio to support and direct us. Their handing over of the score was key to the concept of the work.

Simon Tanguy worked with us in the studio for about a month, spread out over the course of a year. He directed us through many improvisation scores and then we slowly wrote a script together. When we had learnt the script he set it in space – creating a choreography which supported and moulded the words in very particular ways and working with our lighting designer, Seth Rook-Williams, to create the right landscape.

Liz Aggiss choreographed the work and then taught it to us, giving us very clear direction in order to create her precise vision. During the process of teaching us the composition she made adjustments as she saw us embody her ideas and as she got to know us better as people and performers. She was amazingly quick and sharp in how she composed her ideas around us as we worked.

You’ll also be here the week after Nora Invites, with Nora Talks, where you’ll be discussing your thoughts after a period of research. Do you think this research informs or changes the way you perform, particularly in Nora Invites?

Yes, the talk will be one of a series in which we reflect on our curatorial research and we invite people to respond with their own ideas and thoughts. Our relationship to Nora Invites is constantly shifting, as time passes, and this research feels like a continuation of this shift – a bit like a natural evolution. Having performed the work a lot I think we now feel more reflective, and we have begun to think about what might happen next; this is essentially how our research started! Our research is also closely connected to our changing relationship with each other: the experience that Flora and I have performing together over a long period of time, and our relationship with Stephanie as rehearsal director and now as co-artistic director/performer. We have discovered a lot about each other, about how things can work and be different to how they appear or what one might imagine. We are very happy with what we have managed to do, so it feels important to share it and invite others to see it. Through being transparent we hope to continue questioning how performance can be made and how dancers can engage directly and practically with artistic practice and intention.

I’m not sure our research has directly affected how we perform, but the fact that we are doing the research is because our relationship to performing has changed! Maybe…

What’s next for Nora?

After our series of Nora Talks we are planning to curate a new programme of work for the three of us to perform. This curation process has begun already and it has been a fascinating and ever-changing ride. We are still keeping very open to what this could be – maybe something similar to Nora Invites, or maybe something wildly different. We will see!

Click here to find out more about Nora Invites.

 

Image: Flora Wellesley Wesley and Eleanor Sikorski in BLOODY NORA! Photo: Camilla Greenwell.