WELL SEASONED DIGITAL STAGE

Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage celebrates Black dance online, with a specially-curated programme of films, documentaries, podcasts and special guest features, for the Well Seasoned strand of programming.  

Launched in January 2022, Well Seasoned was designed by Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director Alistair Spalding, Jonzi D and Michelle Norton, respectively Artistic Director and Director of Breakin’ Convention, to platform work by both UK-based and international Black dance makers.  

After a number of sell-out stage performances in the spring, the focus turns to the new online programme over the summer.  

National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) & Guest Artistic Director Alesandra Seutin: Speak Volumes  

Speak Volumes is a short dance film made for camera. It follows on from the live performance created by the 29 dancers of the National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), in collaboration with Guest Artistic Director Alesandra Seutin. Set in a disused school building, Speak Volumes is an open floor for the voices of the younger ones of these times, a space for their existence and truth to be heard, acknowledged and experienced. 

A film by Ben Williams, cinematography by Zeta Spyraki.  

Alesandra Seutin, Guest Artistic Director of National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) said: ‘It’s great and not surprising that Sadler’s Wells is turning up the spotlight on Black artists this year with Well Seasoned. For me, it’s a necessity, because too many UK Black artists especially have been thriving here and not always acknowledged by main houses such as Sadler’s Wells and others. I am hoping this is only the seed to Black artists blooming and being acknowledged for being amazing beyond measure and their inspiring contribution to the world’. 

National Youth Dance Company & Alesandra Seutin – Speak Volumes Film Trailer. © Ben Williams, Zeta Spyraki. 

Moving Around The World – 6 International Short Films  

A selection of films by international artists tell extraordinary dance stories from around the world, including mini documentaries and dance made for screen.  

Each unique film represents Black dance artists from across the globe, from countries including South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, U.S.A and the Netherlands. 

Artists include: Rauf ‘RubberLegz’ Yasit, Christian Boley and Stéphanie Mwamba, Freddy Dojo, Roderick George, Breakin’ Convention (Colours and The Skeleton Mover).  

Collectively, these films show the power of dance to change lives, bring us closer together and create a universal language that speaks to us all. 

Breakin’ Convention, The Skeleton Movers (Soweto Skeleton Movers). © Ben Wachenje.

World Premieres – New Film Commissions  

From June to October 2022, Sadler’s Wells presents the world premieres of seven new short-film commissions, by the UK’s most exciting Black artists working in dance and film. They include Jonzi D, L’atisse Rhoden, House of Absolute, Ivan Michael Blackstock, Akeim Toussaint Buck, Alethia Antonia and Fubunation

They will be free to access for a limited period on Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage and YouTube channel. 

Ivan Michael Blackstock. © Ben Wachenje.

In Conversation With… Jonzi D 

Co-creator of Well Seasoned, an MC, dancer, spoken word artist and director, Jonzi D is the foremost advocate for hip hop, who has changed the profile and influenced the development of the UK British hip hop dance and theatre scene over the last two decades. Jonzi D is also an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells and is based at the theatre, with Breakin’ Convention.  

We speak to Jonzi D about his upcoming short film premieres and the key message he would like people to take away from the Well Seasoned Digital Stage programme.  

Can you tell us a little more about the short films you’ve created? 

Jonzi D: The first is OUR BODIES BACK. Featuring three Black women, filmed in different cities around the world. Choreographed to the soundscape of Soweto Kinch and the emotionally intense poetry of jessica Care moore. Ben Williams edited the material flawlessly. I made this during the height of the plandemic. My resistance to the lockdown, and then the murder of George Floyd made me determined to create and collaborate in earnest. I had never made a film before, but my iPhone shoots in 4K, so why not? 
 
AUTOCORRECT is the second instalment of a series of choreopoetry films. AUTOCORRECT follows a similar stylistic approach. Monochrome solos to the sounds of Soweto Kinch, but this time featuring three Black men interpreting the cerebral text of Saul Williams. Themes around patriarchy and power, sickness and social media. Saul’s work poses questions too devastating to answer. The dancers use their bodies to amplify the arguments. 
 
Drew in New York uses flexing, a technique from Brooklyn that explores dislocation and has roots in dancehall. Abdul in Entebbe fuses contemporary Ugandan dance with breaking. Theo in London specialises in Krump technique.

What key message do you want people to take after engaging in Well Seasoned? 

Jonzi D: We intend to normalise work from the African diaspora throughout our programming at Sadler’s Wells. Well Seasoned is highlighting the future vision of our brand, presenting world class arts and culture for the whole community.

Guests Select Online Series  

Sadler’s Wells hands over the mic in a new series called Guests Select. We ask leading Black UK-based artists to share the online works they’re passionate about and tell us what they mean to them. 

From new and innovative digital creations, to familiar movie masterpieces, Guests Select invites you into a specially-curated online space to discover, explore and feel inspired. 

Afrobeats dancer and choreographer Patience J; events curator, DJ and UK vogueing artist Jay Jay Revlon; and ballet dancer Precious Adams, share their selections. A further three artists share their top picks in the summer.   

Patience J. © Ben Wachenje.

Well Seasoned Podcast Series  

In July, a six-part new podcast series hosted by Brenda Emmanus, featuring conversation with Black creatives, explores how Black culture influences contemporary life, through conversations on dance, visual art, fashion, TV & film, theatre and music.  

Brenda Emmanus. © Rahil Ahmad.

In Conversation With… Brenda Emmanus OBE 

Brenda Emmanus has had a long and consistent career on national television. Her warm and versatile style has seen her switch comfortably between genres and broadcasters – from lifestyle, fashion, interior design and the arts, and she is the new podcast host for Sadler’s Wells’ Well Seasoned Podcast.  

We speak to Brenda about why the podcast is important to her to host, key messages she would like people to take away after listening and what she is most excited to see from the Well Seasoned Digital Stage programme.  

Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do? 

Brenda: 

I have been a Journalist and Broadcaster for my entire career. Majority of the time was spent working for the BBC; first as a Researcher and Reporter and gradually working my way up to becoming an Arts, Culture and Entertainment Correspondent, working for BBC News and making arts documentaries for BBC 2, BBC 4 and BBC World. Since leaving the BBC, I have carved out a portfolio career. 

I now have a production company and consultancy: Free Spirit Productions Ltd. I am Chair of the Board for Sir Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures Company, on the Editorial Board for the Royal Academy Magazine, a Non-Executive Director at Faber Publishers, work as a Creative Content and Editorial Consultant on the West End Production of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ for Sonia Friedman Productions, and currently making a programme on African Fashion for the BBC, in collaboration with the V&A. 

Why is the Well Seasoned podcast important for you to host? 

Brenda: 

I have always loved my work, and I feel utterly privileged to spend my time amongst the world’s great creatives and minds. I am fascinated by discovering the process and craft of artists, dancers, painters, architects, authors – anyone who creates. Having said this, I also recognise that there are many areas of the arts where diversity and inclusion are still a challenge. Any Black or Brown person that reaches a high level of achievement, has had to overcome significant personal and professional challenges. I know this, having spent my time around so many and talking to them. 

I have also been inspired by those that have had an impact on the mainstream. I see the Well Seasoned podcast as an opportunity for everyone to discover more about this broad range of diverse talent and hear about their journeys, their opinions on their area of the arts, and those that have inspired them. This is a chance to hear about the arts from a Black perspective – it’s not divisive – it is an opportunity to share stories with everyone, to give a platform to some formidable talent and to celebrate the arts.  We also have some wonderful, specially-commissioned spoken word tributes to each area of the arts that we cover, from some extraordinary poets and spoken word artists. 

What key message do you want people to take away after listening to the podcast episodes? 

Brenda: That the arts are an essential part of all our lives. That the arts are for everyone. That there are some brilliant Black creatives, artists and performers who have some inspiring, insightful, and profound things to share, with not just their fans, but with the world. The creatives featured are Black and have all attracted a broad audience who love their work. All have excelled at what they do, and we all collectively want to see the arts scene, both practitioners and audiences, reflect the world that we live in.

What are you most excited to see in the Well Seasoned Digital Stage programme?  

Brenda: Obviously, I am biased as I am presenting the podcast, but I am deeply excited to view the next generation of choreographers. Moving Around The World is genius and Guests Select has me jumping for joy and is complimentary to what we are doing with Kiss My Black Side; giving Black UK-based artists a platform to share the works they are passionate about. To be honest, what’s not to like about the whole of the Well Seasoned Digital Stage programme.

‘Exploring Black Dance with Well Seasoned’ Film.

Key Dates What’s On 
Available now  National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) Speak Volumes Film  
Available now, and more in the summer   Guests Select Online Series  
Available from 6 June, for 2 years   World Premieres – New Film Commissions  
Available now, until 31 October  Moving Around The World – 6 International Short Films  
Available from July  Well Seasoned Podcast Series

All content is free to access.  

https://www.sadlerswells.com/well-seasoned-celebrating-black-dance/well-seasoned-on-digital-stage/