Young people

SW VOICES: MEET OUR APPRENTICES

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, we celebrate the contribution of three talented apprentices working at Sadler’s Wells: Campaign Marketing apprentice Amy Falla, Digital & Content apprentice Angharad Mainwaring and Breakin’ Convention Support apprentice Ryan McAneny.

We ask them about some common misconceptions surrounding apprenticeships, tips on how to break into the creative industries and what the future holds for them. 

Tell us about yourself. What have you been watching or reading recently? If you could master a new skill in an instant, what would it be?

Amy: I’m the Campaign Marketing Apprentice here at Sadler’s Wells and I’m doing business association at [tech startup] White Hat. I run an art collective back home in Suffolk to help connect and promote young artists in the region. My role here has really inspired me to communicate art to a younger audience and engage young people in the arts.

I recently read How To Fail by Elizabeth Day. I noticed someone in the Campaigns team reading it so I went out and bought it. It’s really good! The skill I would learn if I had the chance is knowing how to save money.

Angharad: I’m currently studying digital marketing level 3 and I’m the Digital & Content Apprentice at Sadler’s Wells. I really like art and creating things digitally. I’m also interested in advocacy around disability and I’m trying to do a lot of research on that at the moment. I run my own blog and it’s really fun being able to merge my interest in accessibility with the digital content skills I’m using at work.

I’m currently watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix. If I could learn a skill overnight, it would be to learn a new language. l think it would be so cool to be able to whip out Russian any time you like!

Ryan: I’m 23, I’m studying business administration and I’m the Breakin’ Convention Support Apprentice. I dance outside of work, I teach dance outside of work, I’m a dad outside of work (laughs). At the moment I’m re-watching Prison Break because it’s the best thing that ever happened and I’ve just finished Suits. If I could learn anything, it would be a new language.

What does your apprenticeship involve day-to-day?

Amy: I assist the marketing managers at Sadler’s Wells and at The Peacock with campaigns. That might involve helping to brainstorm ideas on how we’re going to promote a show, researching the audience we’re going to promote it to, grassroots and e-mail marketing. I also help out with the access scheme as well as admin duties, such as working on print and posters.

Angharad: Day-to-day, I help [Digital Manager] Mark and [Digital Officer] Sarah to build web pages, make videos for our front-of-house plasma screens and edit smaller trailers. I also help [Content Officer] Rosie and [Content Manager] Rosanna with subtitling video content. Now that I’m a few months into the apprenticeship, it’s quite nice that I don’t have to keep asking them what I need to do. People know that we’re here and things fall onto our plate quite naturally.

Ryan: I do a lot of research for [hip hop theatre festival] Breakin’ Convention’s national tour – specifically around where we can utilise our outreach, especially at the grassroots level with local schools, dance and production companies. As we tour around cities and towns across the country, the aim is to start sparking conversations [between venues and local hip hop artists] and leaving a network in place. I’d say I spend a lot of my time here asking questions, mostly about hip hop theatre.

What is a common misconception about apprenticeships? Could you share some ‘myth-busters’ and tips from your experience so far?

Amy: Apprenticeships in the arts can be quite hard to come by. Working for a really renowned arts organisation like Sadler’s Wells, we’re proving that actually apprenticeships are out there. University isn’t the only pathway into the creative industries, you just need to dig a little deeper. Platforms like gov.uk and the Arts Council’s website are really good starting points for apprenticeship opportunities and arts jobs.

Angharad: I think a misconception around apprentices comes from our age. Usually, apprentices tend to be younger so there’s that assumption that we’re personal assistants or that we get the teas and coffees. I think younger people in the arts sector give organisations more of an insight into younger audiences. My advice to employers is: don’t be afraid to challenge the youth. We can be given more responsibilities, if anything.

Ryan: My initial thoughts before working at Breakin’ Convention were that apprentices did the jobs that no one else wants to do. I used to think that you don’t really have much of a say or hold as much importance in the organisation. But I actually think I’ve learned more coming in as an apprentice than if I had jumped straight into a job here. I’ve been able to learn a lot of things rather than focusing on the one thing. I have way more responsibility than I ever thought I would.

What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?

Amy: Seeing the auditorium packed full of all different types of audiences. It’s really encouraging to see that the marketing campaigns we’ve worked on have that kind of impact at the end of the day. One other thing that’s great about working at Sadler’s Wells is that we’re encouraged to make the most out of the experience. I did some shadowing for the costume department, which was different to what I normally do, but also really interesting in terms of seeing the other side of theatre.

Angharad: I like everything about my job! Recently I made the grid poster for Sadler’s Wells Sampled. It was so cool, because Amy sent me photos of it being projected on the front-of-house screens and in the auditorium. It’s really rewarding to see that something you’ve worked on has contributed to a show in the grand scheme of things.

Apprentice Angharad helped realise this poster for Sadler’s Wells’ Sampled.

Another highlight was helping the Content team with the Natalia Osipova video in the ‘Confessions of a Ballet Star’ series. It was amazing to see it go viral, it made me feel like a proud mum.

Apprentice Angharad helped realise this Confessions of a Ballet Dancer video.

Ryan: I recently helped out [Breakin’ Convention Digital Communications Officer] Dave with the filming and editing for the highlights reel of Back To The Lab, Breakin’ Convention’s professional development programme. It was my first time having that much control over a digital project like that, and I probably would never been able to do that anywhere else.

Apprentice Ryan helped realise this video for Breakin’ Convention’s Back To The Lab.

I also love watching the creative process of the artists on our professional development courses. I’d love the opportunity to do Open Art Surgery one day. Seeing the opportunities here in London just makes me think of how I can help to take the same opportunities to Birmingham, where I’m based.

Have you encountered any challenges?

Amy: Leaving the office at 4pm! You need to remember that you do have a life outside of work, and it’s just as important.

Angharad: It’s hard to juggle the responsibilities of doing a course and your day-to-day job. It’s not like you’re in a classroom. You’re at your desk and people assume you’re just getting on with Sadler’s Wells stuff, when actually you’re dedicating time to assignments, which need to be the priority sometimes.

Ryan: Balancing my workload with my college work. I get very into my work, so sometimes it’s hard to switch off when I get home. There’s also so much more time management you do with a new-born! Jobwise, I never really look back at anything I’ve done and see it as a challenge. It’s more like, “that was a lot of effort and hard work, but it was worth it”.

How has your apprenticeship benefited you? 

Amy: The networking opportunities have been really great. I’ve been able to meet people in similar roles at other organisations, theatres and galleries. I still don’t really know where I want to go in the future, but I think understanding the different pathways into an arts organisation is the first step. The insider knowledge you get from working in an arts organisation on things such as Arts Council funding, audience development, tone of voice – it’s all really useful stuff, which I’ll go on to use personally and professionally.

Angharad: I definitely feel like I’ve learned so many skills already. Being able to practise what I’ve always been interested in has been amazing. The guidance from Sarah, Mark and Rosie has been great; hearing from arts professionals about how they got to where they are and learning from them on a day-to-day basis, I’m just in pure admiration. If I could think of a word to describe Sadler’s Wells, it would be ‘inspiring’. Being inspired makes you want to express your creativity more and explore what you’re passionate about.

Ryan:I’ve gained loads of new skills and networks. I can now write fancy emails (laughs). I’ve been given the opportunity to be the Breakin’ Convention rep for Birmingham thanks to [Head of Breakin’ Convention] Chelle and [Breakin’ Convention Tour Producer] Emma, which is such a bonus for me. Liaising with artists and freelancers has helped build my confidence in what I do. To be able to say you’ve worked in the Breakin’ Convention team at Sadler’s Wells, having that behind you – people are very interested in that.

To be honest, I never saw myself in an environment like this. Being a dancer, I was always used to everything being a bit rough around the edges, but here it’s really professional. Working 9 to 5 in an office doesn’t seem all that bad when you’re in the right environment, doing what you love. Theatre wasn’t a place I ever really saw myself working in, but now that’s where I want to go.

National Apprenticeship Week 2020 takes place from 3 to 9 February 2020. The annual celebration recognises the value and impact apprenticeships bring to employers and the wider industry. This year’s theme, ‘Look Beyond’, focuses on the value of diversity. The aim is to showcase the talent and contribution apprentices bring to the workplace, as well as the breadth of industries and roles available to young people considering routes into employment outside of higher education.

Images throughout: Shirley Ahura.

Sadler’s Wells Launches Young People’s Ticket Scheme

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our new young person’s ticket scheme, as part of a major partnership with Barclays.

Barclays Dance Pass offers £10 tickets to 16 to 30-year-olds registered with the scheme for all productions across our venues. These include Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the Lilian Baylis Studio in Islington, north London, and The Peacock theatre in the West End. The scheme will also apply to performances at our new mid-scale venue, opening in Stratford in 2022. Once registered, Barclays Dance Pass members will be able to purchase two tickets per production at no extra booking fee cost.

Registration to Barclays Dance Pass is free and can be completed via our website here: sadlerswells.com/barclaysdancepass

From today at 10am, Barclays Dance Pass holders will be able to book for shows in our Spring 2020 season, including Sadler’s Wells production Message In A Bottle by our Associate Artist Kate Prince, based on the songs of Sting, which runs at The Peacock from 6 February to 21 March. The season also features Drawn Lines, the latest in our Composer series, focusing on Nico Muhly; double bill The Rite of Spring/ common ground[s], a Sadler’s Wells, Pina Bausch Foundation and École des Sables Production; Lloyd Newson’s Enter Achilles, co-produced by Rambert and Sadler’s Wells; and UK premieres of works by Sadler’s Wells Associate Artists Crystal Pite and Michael Keegan Dolan.

To mark the launch of the scheme, Sadler’s Wells is offering the first 10 sign ups a pair of free tickets for the premiere of Message In A Bottle on 19 February.

The scheme makes available 10,000 tickets each year at £10 each, providing a wide range of new audiences with access to ground-breaking work and world-class artists – furthering our mission to make and share dance that inspires us all.

Barclays will also become Associate Partner of National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) for the next three years. Run by Sadler’s Wells and funded by the Department for Education and Arts Council England, NYDC creates and performs innovative and influential dance, bringing together the brightest talent from across England to work intensively with Sadler’s Wells’ renowned Associate Artists and visiting companies.

Since its creation in 2013, NYDC has worked with 2,800 young dancers, over 80% of whom have gone on to further dance training or professional work. New support from Barclays extends opportunities for talented young dancers from all areas and backgrounds to be part of the company and underlines NYDC’s commitment to artistry and accessibility.

Alistair Spalding, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells, said:

Young people are the dance artists and audiences of the future and we are committed to offering them access to the best dance from all over the world. I am delighted that our partnership with Barclays will help us grow the number of 16 to 30-year-olds enjoying our shows, while supporting young dancers to develop and perform on our stage and across the country.”

Tom Corbett, Head of Sponsorship at Barclays, said:

Barclays is proud to partner with Sadler’s Wells to extend opportunities to young people throughout the country. Over three years, Barclays Dance Pass will give 30,000 young people the opportunity to experience world-class dance at Sadler’s Wells, and our support will enable National Youth Dance Company to provide a diverse, talented group of young artists from across the country an unrivalled opportunity to jump-start their careers.”

YOUTH DANCE PERFORMANCE MARKS START OF NORWICH CASTLE’S REDEVELOPMENT

National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) and hip hop theatre company Far From The Norm joined forces with Norfolk Museums Service to mark the launch of Norwich Castle’s four-year renovation project with a site-specific performance.

Made by and for young people, Fight or Flight combined a variety of movement languages including contemporary dance, hip hop, capoeira and choreographed combat to reflect on the physiological state known as the fight-or-flight response.

NYDC dancers Mollie Stebbing and Sekou Diaby worked with local dance groups – including Capoeira Communities, Knight’s Tower Medieval Combat, The Garage, in-house dance company Passion Productions and inclusive dance group In Cahoots – to share movement language from MADHEAD, choreographed by NYDC 2018-19 Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva. They were helped by Victoria Shulungu and Jordan Douglas, members of Seva’s company Far From The Norm.

Flight or Fight project. Video: Eye Film.

Their visit to Norwich served as inspiration for each partner organisation to choreograph their own, seven-minute interpretation of the fight-or-flight theme. The performance brought together these individual sections, with each group handing over to the next one, culminating in a finale where they all performed repertoire from MADHEAD together with members of NYDC.

Sekou Diaby and Mollie Stebbing in Fight or Flight at Norwich Castle.
Image: Joseph Hayes.
MADHEAD. Image: Tony Nandi

Bringing together local and national creative partners to showcase the unique ways in which different movement practices can co-exist within the walls of the 900-year-old historic building, Fight or Flight celebrated the castle’s historic past and impending transformation. Children and young people from a diverse range of backgrounds took part in the performance, which attracted hundreds of visitors over two showings.

3-D images of Mollie Stebbing, Sekou Diaby and young participants during Fight or Flight project at Norwich Castle. Images: Joseph Hayes.

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

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.

This International Youth Day, we find out more about the summer activities from the young participants themselves.

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.

Summer School with NYDC highlight video.

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.

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.”

NYDC Summer School participants with NYDC alumna Joshua Attwood.

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 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.”

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.

Young participants during African dance workshop with workshop leader Miles Ncube. Image: Rahil Ahmed.

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. 

Young participants during African dance workshop. Image: Rahil Ahmed.

Young participants during Breakin’ Convention workshop with workshop leader Theo ‘Godson’ Oloyade. Image: Rahil Ahmed.

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!”

Young participants (Breakin’ Convention workshop) performing at East Education Summer School showcase. Image: Rahil Ahmed.

“Having a good time.”

Young participants (Breakin’ Convention workshop) performing at East Education Summer School showcase. Image: Rahil Ahmed.

“Meeting new people.”

“Spitting some hard bars!”

Young participants (Breakin’ Convention workshop) performing at East Education Summer School showcase. Image: Rahil Ahmed.

“Learning new things.”

“Destroying the stage.”

Young participants (Breakin’ Convention workshop) performing at East Education Summer School showcase. Image: Rahil Ahmed.

“Embracing ourselves.”

Young participants from Breakin’ Convention’s hip hop theatre workshop with mentors
Education Coordinator Shay D (left), Capo Lee (bottom) and Yomi Sode (right). Image: Theo ‘Godson’ Oloyade

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

YOUNG EAST LONDONERS DIVE INTO SADLER’S WELLS’ CAREER IMMERSION DAY

While the wide range of jobs that exist in the arts and culture sector are well known to those working in it, to many young people, what these roles entail and how to obtain them is not always clear.

To help demystify the industry, clarify what the opportunities available are and offer guidance on how to get them, we recently hosted a career immersion day for a group of 25 young people.

The initiative was part of the Creative & Cultural Opportunity Programme (COP), designed by Create Jobs in collaboration with Sadler’s Wells, which aims to help young east Londoners start their careers in the arts by providing training, advice and networking opportunities.

COP participants meet Communications Coordinator Shirley Ahura during the speed-networking session.

Led by members of staff from three different teams, this first-of-its-kind session offered insight into the various roles in each and gave participants the opportunity to apply their newly acquired knowledge through a real-life digital brief.

COP participants with Head of Campaign Marketing Sammie Squire
during the speed-networking session.

The day kicked off with a round of speed-networking sessions, introducing the participants to our Campaigns & Sales, Corporate Communications and Content & Audiences teams.

COP participants with Digital Manager Mark Doerfel
during the speed-networking session.

In small groups, the participants rotated around the room and heard from each member of staff about what their job involves and what their teams’ role is within Sadler’s Wells, as well as their professional background and path into the industry.

Director of Content & Audiences Ankur Bahl talks to COP participants.

Our staff members had five minutes each to share information on a range of topics. This part of the day was designed to offer useful tips on navigating the sector as a young professional, as well as practical knowledge about ‘portfolio careers’ and pathways into the arts generally and into Sadler’s Wells specifically, via our apprenticeship opportunities.


Content Officer Rosie Mackie talks to COP participants.

Lively and interesting discussions emerged from the Q&A section of the day, with the young people engaging in wider reflections about their own interests and aspirations. Of particular interest were two opportunities currently being offered at Sadler’s Wells, one for a Digital & Content Apprentice and another for a Campaign Marketing Apprentice.

COP participants share their thoughts during the session.

We asked some of the young people who participated in the sessions to share a bit more about their career interests and biggest takeaways from the day.

Ibrahim

I want to get into digital media content. My biggest takeaway from today was the fact that Sadler’s Wells is offering two apprenticeships, giving young people like myself the opportunity to work in that field – that’s been fantastic to hear!

Eleni

I really love drama and would love to get into the performing arts, theatre and maybe film one day.

My biggest takeaway was seeing how many jobs there are behind the scenes. I didn’t know there were so many roles involved in theatre and it’s really interesting to see first-hand what you don’t see from the outside.

Pembe

I would like to get more involved in production and the technical aspects of live music events and stage management. I’m starting up a female-led production company acknowledging women that work backstage in the creative industries. I would like to continue inspiring more women to do more sound and backstage work, and my biggest goal is to be the Production and Technical Manager at somewhere like Glastonbury – I’m in talks with the organisers at the moment about making this happen!

My biggest takeway from today was probably the workshop on navigating the creative industries. I really like how it connected with us, and all the interesting facts and figures that I didn’t actually know. I knew that a lot of jobs in the creative industries weren’t advertised, but I didn’t realise that it was 60%! It was also really inspiring to actually see someone that’s quite young, fresh and from a BAME background working in a space like this and being recognised for the work they do.”

Michelle

I’d really like to get into presenting and making documentaries, because I love the idea of interviewing people and getting to know their stories. I’m also interested in journalism and review writing – I’d love to have my own column one day.

It’s been really nice to hear from the Sadler’s Wells Campaigns & Sales team about what they do here. I live near Angel; I would always pass Sadler’s Wells and only ever think of it as a place for dance. Today, I’ve become more aware of what marketing a dance show involves, and I’ve learnt that there are so many creative industries that use marketing in their day-to-day work.”

Eric

I’m very interested in English and Drama, and in terms of roles I’d like to get into communications and publications. I also like the advertising and marketing side to promoting shows and content in theatres.

I think my biggest takeaway was getting insight from people in managing positions at Sadler’s Wells, and getting an idea of what their jobs entail. I found it very useful talking to [Director of Content & Audiences] Ankur about prioritising, strategising and what it takes to lead successful theatre. Talking to [Digital Manager] Mark about the apprenticeship opportunities here has helped me think a little bit more about my future as I go into sixth form and later, university.

I have a better understanding now about the skill set I can develop on an apprenticeship, and I feel that I’ve taken away useful knowledge that there are many different routes my career could take.”

Kash

I’m interested in fashion, styling and art directing but I’ve also always really loved theatre and drama, which I was studying at university until I took a bit of a break – mainly because I didn’t know which route I wanted to go down. Today has really opened my eyes up to something I hadn’t considered before, and that’s the programming aspect of theatre. It’s really interesting to see how a single person’s vision helps determine what is shown and who sees it.

Finding work that is commissioned by a more diverse group of people – by younger people, by people that have a voice – is important to me. I think we’re seeing a push towards it in the arts right now, but organisations in the sector can do more. When a place like Sadler’s Wells is looking for these voices, a useful question to ask is: ‘Are these voices of people who need to be represented or of those that are already represented?’ So yeah, that’s my biggest takeaway. Who knew programming could be so interesting!

Images throughout: Dave Barros.

INSPIRING A NEW GENERATION OF THEATRE PROFESSIONALS

At Sadler’s Wells, we are committed to nurturing tomorrow’s generation of arts professionals. Since 2015, we have collaborated with over 15 organisations and supported over 100 individuals in forging a career in the creative industries.

Access to opportunities in the cultural sector can be challenging for young people for a variety of reasons: limited in-school careers services, cuts to arts education, informal recruitment processes and lack of industry awareness and networks. Through our paid training and employment opportunities, workshop initiatives and work experience placements in different departments we aim to break down barriers to employment, address skills gaps and create entry routes into the sector.

On #InspiringFutureTheatreDay, we take a look at the ways in which Sadler’s Wells is working to inspire and equip young people to access opportunities and discover career routes in theatre, and hear from some of the young talent that we are supporting into the industry.  

Internships and apprenticeships

We offer paid six-month internships and 12 to 18-month apprenticeships across different departments: from Programming, Technical & Production and Producing & Touring to Human Resources, Visitor Experience and Catering & Events. We also offer placements in our Learning & Engagement, Breakin’ Convention and Development teams. Looking ahead, we’ll also be introducing two new kitchen apprenticeship opportunities.

Human Resources, Marketing and visuals are some of the areas that I was able to learn about and it’s made me realise that you don’t have to be a dancer to be part of such a big organisation like Sadler’s Wells. It’s also made me become more open-minded about jobs overall. 

Maimuna Kigenyi, 10-week work experience placement student

This has been such a great experience for me because I’ve been able to learn first-hand what it’s like to work in an office setting. I’ve realised that there are so many different aspects to an organisation that exist, and that I shouldn’t be afraid to broaden my horizons.

Rachael Olumuyiwa, 10-week work experience placement student

Through these opportunities, students gain a unique and comprehensive insight into how we work to make Sadler’s Wells a world-leading dance house – providing them with valuable experience and know-how from the perspective of those working behind the scenes, in our offices and in public-facing roles.

I wasn’t aware of the theatre beforehand, so it was definitely a learning experience. I would have never thought that there would be so many departments for a dance organisation, but it all makes sense now. I’ve learnt that it’s not just about the great performances and the dancers. A lot of work is done by many people with different roles and tasks which altogether achieve something great.

Maimuna Kigenyi, 10-week work experience placement student


Because of my huge interest in the computing field, I also met with a few people from IT. They really helped me understand the world of IT much better, and the many different paths and issues that fall under IT. It also helped me figure out what pathway in Computer Science I wanted to go for, which I am really grateful for.

Rachael Olumuyiwa, 10-week work experience placement student

Work experience placements

We now offer more work experience placements than ever before, including work experience opportunities for Key Stages 4 and 5, college and university placements (as a required part of students’ courses), work shadowing and leadership development placements. These placements allow young people to gain relevant, professional experience and knowledge, and increase their chances of finding and retaining employment that meets their aspirations. Students learn about the various aspects of Sadler’s Wells’ activities and their requirements, while gaining insight into back-stage operations and roles available across the organisation and beyond.

As a dancer, I’m very used to being on stage. The opportunity gave me great insight into what goes on behind the scenes at a theatre, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time.

Milly Clarke, one-week work experience placement student

COP students on a tour during their visit to Sadler’s Wells.

We are also involved in two initiatives with an employment and career focus: the Creative Opportunity Programme (COP) and Shared Training and Employment Programme (STEP).

Creative Opportunity Programme (COP)

COP is a two-week pre-employment programme for east Londoners aged 18-30. Through workshops and networking events led by industry professionals, the initiative aims to introduce young people to a range of opportunities and careers in the creative sector, and to provide them with the skills, insight and confidence to successfully apply for jobs. Delivered by Create Jobs, the programme has been running since 2017 and we are one of its founding partners.

COP students participate in workshop discussions during their visit to Sadler’s Wells.

Shared Training and Employment Programme (STEP)

Alongside Create Jobs, Bow Arts and London College of Fashion, we co-designed and developed STEP, a programme designed to increase representation in the creative, cultural and digital industries.

Open to young east Londoners, the paid opportunity sees participants complete two six-month internships (either in two different organisations or within two different departments of the same institution), take part in professional development workshops and work on a year-long curatorial project. Interns have the chance to build a strong peer network and, working with a specialist industry mentor, are equipped with the skills, experience and connections to begin their career in the sector.

I’ve only been here a month and feel like I’ve learnt so much already. Learning about how productions work behind the scenes, getting to see the shows, meeting and being around people who share the same interests as me and finding out just how many roles are needed in an organisation to put on shows has definitely benefitted me.

Leila Jassal, STEP intern working in the Producing & Touring team

iDISCOVER STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths)

iDiscover is a week-long programme for primary schools, introducing pupils to a range of STEAM careers and experiences. As part of the initiative, members of our Technical team have been leading visits by groups of 8 to 9-year-olds, where they discuss the different jobs available in theatre and, through practical activities, explain how they apply their knowledge of STEAM subjects in their everyday jobs.

Primary school children are given a tour to behind the scenes of Sadler’s Wells by our Technical team.

iDiscover STEAM is integral to the range of training and employment opportunities we offer at Sadler’s Wells, as we believe it is important to inspire and engage young people from a very early age, and to raise awareness among them of the variety or roles and paths available in the sector.

Primary school children are given a tour to behind the scenes of Sadler’s Wells by our Technical team.

Reflecting with some final thoughts on their time here at Sadler’s Wells, our students said:

One thing that I love about Sadler’s Wells is the diversity that is portrayed and how people of many backgrounds come together and create something wonderful.


Maimuna Kigenyi, 10-week work experience placement student


I didn’t know much about NYDC and Sadler’s Wells, so it was really refreshing to know that they worked so closely with loads of different young people.

Rachael Olumuyiwa, 10-week work experience placement student


I’m super inspired by the work that Sadler’s Wells does with their young artists and emerging choreographers. It’s such an encouraging thing to see an organisation care about and develop that.


Leila Jassal, STEP intern with Producing & Touring


Inspiring Future Theatre Day is a nationwide campaign launched by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre in 2017, showcasing the multitude of offstage theatre careers available to young people. The campaign also recognises the role and work of arts institutions and organisations in strengthening connections between schools, colleges and local theatres.



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.

My first NYDC residency: I feel achy, accepted and privileged

National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), the UK’s leading incubator for young talent run by Sadler’s Wells, has started to rehearse its new piece, MADHEAD, under Botis Seva’s artistic guidance. The ensemble had their first residency at DanceEast in Ipswich in October. Among them is Harriet Musgrove, a 18-year-old dancer coming from Exmouth in Devon. Following the residency, she shared her thoughts on how it feels to be a NYDC dancer.

“Prior to the first residency, I felt a variety of emotions: I was anxious, excited, tense and also quite overwhelmed! I can remember walking through the doors of Sadler’s Wells and all the other 37 members of the company had already arrived. But everybody welcomed and put me at ease immediately – it was a great feeling!

We arrived at DanceEast in Ipswich after travelling from Sadler’s Wells and headed straight into the studio, where Botis Seva and his dancers Jordan and Joshua greeted us. We were thrown straight into the deep end with some challenging repertoire and some crazy improvisation tasks. Even after the first day of the residency, I felt incredibly inspired by the energy of Botis and his team.

NYDC first residency. Image: Manuel Vason

A typical day during an NYDC residency begins with a warm up led by members of the company followed by six hours of dance class with Botis and his team. Training was interspersed with breaks to re-energise and recharge our bodies. Our days would end with our Zen for Ten, which gave us time to reflect and write down anything we wanted to – an exercise I really appreciated. We also had something called Toolbox sessions, extremely insightful discussions led by the NYDC team each evening about auditions and applications for dance schools.

I left the first residency feeling very achy, yet accepted and privileged to be part of NYDC. My aim for the next residency is to absorb as much information as possible from Botis, and also learn from all the dancers around me. They all move so powerfully! I am so excited for the upcoming year and I can’t wait to see how the piece will turn out!”

MADHEAD will premiere at Dance East in Ipswich on 20 April 2019, followed by a nationwide tour and a final performance at Sadler’s Wells on 19 July 2019. 

Header Image: Manuel Vason

SW Voices: Tiegan Hummerston

Tiegan Hummerston joined us in September 2016 on an apprenticeship placement, working at Sadler’s Wells for four days a week while she studied toward a formal qualification in Business Administration. Earlier this year, Tiegan was shortlisted for the National Apprenticeship Week’s Creative Apprentice of the Year award with Lewisham Southwark College. She was recently promoted to HR Assistant, taking up a full-time position. In this interview, Tiegan shares her experiences of working for Sadler’s Wells and in HR.

Hi Tiegan, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in Essex, where I still live today. After finishing my GCSEs and A-Levels, I wasn’t quite sure about what I wanted to do next. Most people my age were going to university, but I didn’t feel ready to commit entirely to one subject – my A-Levels were fairly diverse; Psychology, History, Art and Law – so I decided to look into a range of apprenticeships and work opportunities. I was taken on for two weeks’ work experience in two separate companies, both of them in HR departments. I decided to try this experience, as it was suggested to me based on my current interests and skill set. After undertaking these two weeks’ worth, I felt very positive about the experience and decided to begin applying to full-time HR apprenticeship schemes.

How did you find out about the apprenticeship, and was there anything about Sadler’s Wells that particularly drew you in?

I actually found the posting through the gov.uk website. I hadn’t heard much about Sadler’s Wells, but I did some research and was intrigued – I liked the fact that they wanted to get young people involved in the arts, both in terms of engaging them in dance and in terms of helping them get experience in and be employed in the creative sector.

What did your apprenticeship involve, and how does it compare to your role now?

While doing the apprenticeship, it very much felt like I was a full-time employee – so there wasn’t actually a huge jump in terms of workload! The role came with a lot of responsibility quite early on. I’m still very happy I was formally taken on. Our HR Coordinator recently left, which provided me with an open opportunity to be kept on in the department. After discussing my interest in staying with my colleagues and line manager, they decided to reset the job level to an Assistant role, to which I was happy and comfortable with applying for. The only noted difference is that my workload has gone up – so the sort of experience I was gaining during the apprenticeship has been important for staying on top of things.

During my training period, I was at Sadler’s Wells for four days a week, and I was going to college on a day release on the other day. The course was in Business Administration, and we did coursework, had lectures and exams. So I was getting the roots of the theory for one day a week, then applying that on the other days – it was an interesting combination.

What have you particularly enjoyed during your time at Sadler’s Wells?

I’ve enjoyed a lot, but some of the aspects of recruitment in particular – I like meeting new people, and it’s been great to put into practice the policies about engaging young people I first read about on the website. An event that sticks in my mind is Skills London, an event where everyone in Sadler’s Wells HR and some of the interns go to the ExCeL Centre in East London to talk to young people about work opportunities and the creative sector. We had our own stall and spoke to loads of people; it was really interesting and great to engage with young people who are considering a career in the arts.

Staff induction days have been another highlight – it’s great to get experience in leadership, and curating a whole day of talks and activities makes for a really rewarding project.

What advice would you give others looking to make their way into the arts, HR, or the professional world more broadly?

If you don’t know what you want to do just yet, try getting experience in a field you think you might enjoy. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I gave HR a go, and – perhaps luckily – it just really seemed to click with me. It’s not always a good idea to go to university just because people around you are going; it’s experience that gives you a real feel for what you might want to do in life. Do some research, dig around, and see what might appeal to you!

Inspiring Future Theatre Day: Over 400 Young Dancers Prepare to perform at Eden Project

On Inspiring Future Theatre Day, we’re excited to announce a performance by over 400 young dancers that will take place at Eden Project in Cornwall on 17 July, in collaboration with National Youth Dance Company and Dance Republic 2.

Space Time will see 41 of the most talented young dancers in England from the National Youth Dance Company travel to Cornwall to take part in this unique dance event, joining young dancers from 10 Cornwall schools and the ‘Propeller’ young dancers training programme.

Throughout the afternoon, the Eden Project’s Mediterranean Biome will host performances by the young dancers, specially created for the space.

Each dance group will explore a particular theme related to space or time, located across chosen sites at the Eden Project such as the Lime Steps, Spiral Garden and Avenue of the Senses, culminating in a spectacular finale with 450 young people dancing on and around the bridge near the Core Building.

The finale to the piece was choreographed by dancers and artists from National Youth Dance Company during a residency at Falmouth University in May, and is now being taught to primary school children all over Cornwall in preparation for the performance next month.

Elaine Foley, Projects Manager for Learning & Engagement at Sadler’s Wells, says: “The National Youth Dance Company residency at Falmouth University in May was brilliant. We loved meeting all the dancers from Propeller and were so impressed by all the material they learned in just two days. In the spirit of Inspiring Future Theatre Day, much of the choreography was taught by NYDC dancers themselves or generated in groups using improvisation. Everyone was open-minded, hard working, and brought loads of creative ideas to the session. It was a beautiful example of artistic practice driven by young people. We couldn’t be more thankful to Propeller and AMATA at Falmouth University for the opportunity to bring everyone together in this way. It’s going to be amazing seeing it all come together at Eden Project later this month!”

Space Time begins at 1pm on 17 July, with the finale at approximately 3.30pm.

There’s also a chance to see National Youth Dance Company on tour this summer with their latest work Used To Be Blonde choreographed by Guest Artistic Director Sharon Eyal. Upcoming performances include Latitude Festival on 14 July, AMATA Falmouth on 18 July and Brighton Dome on 20 July. Find out more here.