Young people

National Youth Dance Company celebrates Get Creative Day at Sadler’s Wells

On 2 April, hundreds of arts and cultural organisations in the UK marked Get Creative Day. Part of the BBC’s Get Creative campaign, the event celebrated and encouraged participation in arts, culture and creativity across the country.

At Sadler’s Wells, National Youth Dance Company members invited people to join them in the foyer for a group improvisation. Audiences, many of them children and young people, danced along or simply travelled with the dancers as they performed throughout the building. A measure of the success of the day was the transition of some visitors from shy spectators to enthusiastic participants – from entering the building,  in the space of less than half an hour they were jumping, crawling, clapping and moving with the 40 NYDC dancers.

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The company also offered the public the opportunity to learn a sequence inspired by its new work In – Nocentes, created by leading choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan, which had its world premiere at Sadler’s Wells on 7 April.

NYDC is jointly funded by Arts Council England and the Department for Education from the National Lottery and Grant in Aids funds.

 

Images: National Youth Dance Company dancers lead the group improvisation at Sadler’s Wells. Photo: Giulia Ascoli

Sadler’s Wells’ voices: Verity Casey on her Development Assistant placement

In April 2015, Sadler’s Wells was announced as one of the partners taking part in the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme, a new talent development initiative creating work and training opportunities for 40 graduates in different arts organisations across the UK. Thanks to the programme, we were able to offer a one-year placement in our Development department. Verity Casey was the successful candidate securing the Development Assistant post. We spoke to her to find out how she is finding the placement and what she has been learning.

What is your background?

I come from a creative background. Having completed a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Camberwell College of Art, I moved up north to study Fine Art at Newcastle University. I spent my time producing video and installation work. As part of the course, we had to raise enough funds to put on our final degree show exhibitions in Newcastle and London. I revelled in the challenge of this and soon became excited by the process of finding creative and compelling ways to raise funds. I furthered my experience by volunteering with Age UK’s fundraising and events team in Gateshead, but was keen to gain experience of fundraising in the arts.

How did you find out about the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Programme?

I found out about the programme online during a persistent search for a graduate job, but was then actually sent the role at Sadler’s Wells by the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy programme. I was very excited when I found out about the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries, as it was at last an opportunity to gain experience in an established arts organisation without having to do unpaid work experience.

Why did you apply to work at Sadler’s Wells?

I hadn’t had much involvement with dance since clumsy childhood ballet lessons, but I knew Sadler’s Wells had a reputation for showcasing the best contemporary and innovative works. The role was specifically for a graduate like me and offered an amazing opportunity to gain experience of fundraising in the arts. I get to see so many incredible performances as part of my job, so my relationship with dance was soon rekindled!

What does your placement involve?

I am responsible for assisting the individual giving team in looking after our members and patrons. Some of my day-to-day tasks include putting together membership packs, coordinating mailings and producing marketing and communications to send to our supporters. I have also carried out research about potential supporters. Our autumn/ winter season is ongoing and I have been assisting in organising a series of events for our patrons, including a fundraising Gala we held at the end of October.

What have you learned so far?

I have acquired a general knowledge of the process of gaining and maintaining support from individual donors. I have also learnt to accurately administer a membership scheme, use a CRM database to record information and send out all types of communications. As I get to see more shows, I hope to learn more about Sadler’s Wells’ artistic programme and increase my knowledge of the dance world.

What do you particularly enjoy as part of the placement?

Sadler’s Wells is a really fun place to work, everyone has been so friendly and welcoming. I have particularly enjoyed helping to organise the varied programme of events we hold for our members and patrons. Our patrons’ nights are a great opportunity to interact with our supporters and talk to them about the amazing programme of dance that Sadler’s Wells presents.

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of it?

The amount of admin involved doesn’t always agree with my need to be creative, but I realise that it is a hard thing to escape in life.

How do you feel the placement will benefit your career?

The Weston Jerwood Creative bursaries specifically target recent arts graduates whose circumstances mean they would not be in a position to undertake unpaid work experience. Taking part in the programme has given me the opportunity to develop my skills and add to my CV, as well as to experience what it’s like to work in an arts organisation. I believe the internship will give me the chance to really begin my career in the arts industry, increasing my confidence and helping me to stand out when applying to positions in future.

What advice would you give to other graduates doing a placement through the programme?

I think the programme provides amazing opportunities for recent graduates to get a foot in the door in some of the best arts organisations in the country. I would advise anyone who is eligible to really take the opportunity to learn about all aspects of the organisation they are in, and get to meet as many different people as possible. It is good to be able to use your time on the programme to try out a new career path and find out if it’s something you want to pursue.

 

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Breakin’ Convention and ZooNation awarded £1m to tour the UK

Sadler’s Wells’ international festival of hip hop dance theatre Breakin’ Convention and ZooNation Dance Company, one of Sadler’s Wells’ resident companies, have together been awarded over £1 million in funding by the Arts Council.

They are among 13 organisations who will receive a total of over £4.8 million from Arts Council England as part of its Strategic Touring Programme, enabling them to tour throughout the UK over the next two years. The funding shows a substantial investment in developing audiences for hip hop dance.

Alistair Spalding, Sadler’s Wells’ Chief Executive and Artistic Director, said:“There is no underestimating the growth hip hop as a dance style has been experiencing in recent years, exploding from the streets onto the stage, but also on TV and through fashion and advertising. Its enormous success stems from its ‘each one teach one’ approach to knowledge-sharing and its ability to continuously evolve and develop a highly original vocabulary – a language that is dynamic and current, and speaks to ever increasing numbers of young people.

In the last 12 years, Breakin’ Convention has established itself as a world leader in hip hop dance theatre through its annual international festival at Sadler’ Wells. ZooNation has also been championing the development of hip hop through productions characterised by inventive and captivating storytelling, such as Into the Hoods and Some Like It Hip Hop.”

He continued: “It is great news that the Arts Council has chosen to invest in these projects through their Strategic Touring Fund, which will enable Breakin’ Convention and ZooNation to tour their high-quality work to a number of venues across the UK over the next two years, giving audiences outside London the opportunity to experience hip hop dance theatre, as well as to hopefully discover the next generation of hip hop artists.”

Welcoming the grant, Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artist and Breakin’ Convention’s Artistic Director Jonzi D said: “This is excellent news for the sector. It allows Breakin’ Convention to support the professional development of hip hop dance theatre even further, providing skills, knowledge and platforms for the plethora of emerging dance crews following in the footsteps of ZooNation, Boy Blue, Southpaw and Birdgang. The lyrical dexterity of UK emcees will now have a space to develop theatrical devices within our Moving Rap workshop strand. Arts Council England has shown commitment to the creative phenomenon that is Hip Hop culture, at a time when peace, love, unity, and fun is much needed.”

Breakin’ Convention has been awarded £562,783 for a two-year project that will see the festival tour throughout May 2016 and May 2017, programming over 400 local artists per tour to perform alongside international artists. The touring activity will be complemented by a professional development programme, pairing up artists and future hip hop programmers. There will be a new spoken word professional development strand entitled Moving Rap and a continuation of the film-makers mentorship programme.

Launched by Sadler’s Wells in 2004 and hosted and curated by Jonzi D, Breakin’ Convention features performances from diverse UK and international companies each year. The festival also sees Sadler’s Wells’ foyer transformed into a performance space with live DJs, freestyle dance jams, graffiti exhibitions and workshops from top international artists.

ZooNation Dance Company has been awarded £499,471 to present a large-scale tour of Into the Hoods: Remixed, a newly revamped version of the award-winning production, throughout the UK from Spring 2016. Performances of the work at regional venues will build on the show’s track record of bringing more diverse and younger audiences into theatres, something that it successfully achieved during previous runs at Sadler’s Wells, the Edinburgh Fringe, Southbank Centre and in the West End between 2006 and 2010.

Into the Hoods became both the first ever hip hop dance show in the West End and the longest running dance show in the West End’s history, with a five month run at the Novello Theatre. The cast of Into the Hoods won the 2009 What’s On Stage Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Ensemble Performance. Under the direction of Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artist Kate Prince, the much-loved show has been updated for 2015 with new choreography, a remixed soundtrack and new designs. Its first performances will take place at The Peacock from 23 October to 14 November, before the show embarks on national tour in spring 2016.

Into the Hoods: Remixed will act as the catalyst to deliver an audience development project, ZooResidence, across England, supporting and encouraging venues and their local partners to build audiences for hip hop dance theatre in new ways. It will include a series of projects for reaching thousands of young people, culminating in the creation of a piece to be performed as a pre-show curtain raiser for the production at each of the five partner venues.

In the production, ZooNation’s trademark narrative hip hop theatre style is used to tell the story of two children who get lost in the ‘hood’ and the surprising encounters and discoveries they make along their way, in what is a witty and humorous contemporary fairytale.

Kate Prince, Artistic Director of ZooNation Dance Company, said: “I think it is a really exciting and bold move for the Arts Council to make such a significant investment in developing audiences for hip hop dance theatre through these two major projects. The chance to work with venues more closely will really release the potential of our work to reach more people and connect new audiences to regional theatres”. 

She continued: “This investment of over £1 million pounds between ourselves and Breakin’ Convention also makes a statement about hip hop dance and its cultural importance and artistic currency. We are over the moon that the Arts Council is supporting us to take our work around the UK and to be part of developing hip hop dance nationwide.” 

Joyce Wilson, Area Director, London, Arts Council England, said: “We are delighted to be able to support Breakin’ Convention and ZooNation Dance Company through our Strategic touring programme; it is a clear illustration of the breadth and quality of work that we value and support. These tours will not only showcase some of the best hip hop dance theatre in the world, but also support the professional development of emerging hip hop dance talent and leaders across England.”

 

Image: Wanted Posse performing at Breakin’ Convention in 2014. Photo: Belinda Lawley

Legacy funding keeps Lord of the Flies’ young performers dancing

During the Easter holidays, the young cast who performed in Matthew Bourne’s Lord of the Flies in October 2014 participated in a skills workshop led by dance company ZooNation as part of the production’s legacy programme. The 22-strong cast, aged 11 to 22, were selected from 950 boys and young men from across the capital to perform alongside professional dancers from New Adventures in Matthew Bourne’s acclaimed show last year.

Thanks to legacy funding from New Adventures, Sadler’s Wells has been able to continue working with these young dancers. A year-long programme has been designed to extend the group’s knowledge and experience of dance through access to professional artists, skills workshops and performance visits.

Mentored by dance ambassadors Sam Cook and Shaun Dillon, the young dancers have so far learnt how to move like Edward Scissorhands in a workshop led by New Adventures in December; been gripped by BalletBoyz and their performance of Young Men at Sadler’s Wells in January and witnessed acrobatics in Cirkopolis at The Peacock in February.

Next up is a weekend focused on dance company Rambert. On Saturday 16 May, the group will attend a matinee performance of the company’s triple bill Dark Arteries/ Frames/ Four Elements. They will take part in a pre-show talk with Rambert’s Artistic Director Mark Baldwin, Music Director Paul Hoskins and composer Gavin Higgins, as well as a post-show Q&A session led by Liam Mower, company dancer and rehearsal director. On Sunday 17 May, the young dancers will visit Rambert’s studios in central London, where they will be given a tour of the building and take part in a three-hour workshop led by former company dancer Eryck Brahmania.

 

Photo: the young cast of Matthew Bourne’s Lord of the Flies in rehearsal in 2014.

The Future of Creative Leadership

Sadler’s Wells was delighted to have supported Emerging Legacy Leaders East (elle), The Legacy List’s coaching programme for women at the outset of their creative careers, who held their inaugural symposium last week. Sadler’s Wells’ Chief Executive and Artistic Director Alistair Spalding joined a group of cultural leaders in sharing thoughts and advice for an introductory video.

Pupils take to the Sadler’s Wells’ stage in national dance project

Pupils from four London schools celebrated the end of a national dance project this week with a special performance for friends and family at Sadler’s Wells.

Sadler’s Wells worked with pupils aged 11 to 16 from Petchey Academy, Central Foundation Boys’ School, Gladesmore Community School and Holloway School as part of DanceQuest, a project funded by The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts delivered in partnership with Wayne McGregor | Random Dance.

Over the last seven weeks, the pupils attended dance performances on Sadler’s Wells’ main stage and at The Peacock theatre, participated in seven contemporary workshops delivered by Wayne McGregor | Random Dance artists and started to build their Bronze Arts Award portfolios, which will lead to accreditation.

This week, the four participating schools were invited to Sadler’s Wells for the final Celebration Day. The 71 pupils had the opportunity to take part in a hip hop workshop led by an artist from ZooNation Dance Company, hear an Insight Talk to find out more about the theatre and meet and interview professional artists. The event culminated with an exciting performance of their dance pieces for friends and family in the Lilian Baylis Studio.

Photo: Gladesmore Community School at DanceQuest 2015, by Foteini Christofilopoulou