Summer University At Sadler’s Wells

Sadler's Wells LogoLaunched in 2010, Sadler’s Wells Summer University supports the development of professional dance artists interested in extending their dance practice. The first edition of the project ran successfully between 2010-2014 and the organisation is now recruiting for the second edition starting in Summer 2015. The Summer University graduates (2010-2014) was a combination of notable dance names, and the second batch looks set to mirror this result.

Summer University offers 15 dance professionals the chance to take part in a four year project, meeting for two weeks each year to share work, hear talks, explore methodologies and philosophies of performance making and extend their own dance practice through self-study. As a free course, it is open to dance makers and other artists involved in the performing arts who are interested in developing their own choreographic practice. Also focused on is the future possibilities of dance as an art form.

The course is open to artists based in the UK, with no more than five years professional experience as a dance maker. Directed by the admired choreographer Jonathan Burrows, in collaboration with Eva Martinez, Artistic Programmer for Sadler’s Wells, the course encompasses guest speakers and experienced professionals from the worlds of dance, theatre, visual arts, philosophy and artistic development in sharing their knowledge.

The second edition of the Summer University will take place between 14-27 September 2015 at Sadler’s Wells, a unique opportunity for dance artists and dance makers to immerse themselves in the art and develop their practice further. Applications for the Sadler’s Wells Summer University are currently open: deadline to apply is 22 May 2015 at noon.

Sylvie Guillem – Final Flourish And An Olivier

Sylvie GuillemThe iconic dancer and former prima ballerina – Sylvie Guillem, or Mademoiselle Non – will bow out from her career following a final UK tour of her production Life in Progress. In addition to the previously announced international tour, Sadler’s Wells will present the world renowned Guillem’s final dance programme at the London Coliseum, Edinburgh International Festival and Birmingham Hippodrome. Guillem will also be honoured with an Olivier Award ahead of her retirement, however it is rare that dancers stop dancing completely following announcements of this type.

The newly announced UK dates follow Guillem’s final performances at Sadler’s Wells, from 26–31 May 2015, where she has been an Associate Artist since 2006 and where she announced her retirement, from the stage in November 2014. Life in Progress receives its world premiere in Modena on 31 March 2015, and the final performance is in Tokyo in December 2015. In terms of her Olivier award, Guillem is the recipient of a special award at this year’s Oliviers, celebrating her achievements over the course of her career.

Life in Progress features both existing and new works by choreographers who have influenced her contemporary career. Guillem will perform a pas de deux with Italian dancer Emanuela Montanari from La Scala, choreographed and directed by Russell Maliphant with lighting by Michael Hulls. In the piece, Here & After, Maliphant acknowledges his past works and experiences with Guillem whilst moving on and exploring a vocabulary that shows contrast, with a female duet partnership. Existing works that feature are Mats Ek’s touching and poignant solo, Bye, which was made for Guillem, and William Forsythe’s Duo (performed by two male dancers), which premiered in 1996.

Guillem began training at the Paris Opera Ballet School aged 11, and has since performed all the leading roles of classical repertoire with companies including the Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Kirov, Tokyo Ballet, Australian Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and La Scala, ahead of her contemporary career.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Breakin’ Convention – International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre

Breakin' ConventionThe international hip hop festival – Breakin’ Convention – will run from 1-4 May at Sadler’s Wells and Lilian Baylis Studio. Breakin’ Convention has firmly established itself as one of the major highlights on the British dance calendar and one of the world’s greatest celebrations of hip hop culture. 2015 will see performances from UK and international companies and crews, the 12th year of this hugely popular Sadler’s Wells Production, hosted and curated by Associate Artist Jonzi D.

While Breakin’ Convention is an event for the whole family, for the first time this year there will be an adult-only evening of entertainment in the Lilian Baylis Studio, an intimate show blending stylish cabaret, circus, live music and burlesque with hip hop. The main festival on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 May sees Sadler’s Wells’ foyer transformed with live DJs, freestyle dance jams, graffiti exhibitions, workshops from top international artists and live aerosol art. Participatory activities will take place pre-show and during the interval. Full line-up to be announced 12 March 2015.

Artistic Director of Breakin’ Convention and Jonzi D Projects, Jonzi D has been actively involved in British hip hop culture in clubs and on the street since its genesis in the early 1980s. Since graduating from the London Contemporary Dance School, he has been committed to the development of hip hop theatre, in his former role as Associate Artist at The Place and by creating and performing dance theatre pieces worldwide.

Breakin’ Convention is committed to celebrating, elevating and supporting hip hop dance theatre: the company works with the most respected, innovative and inspirational hip hop artists in the industry. Through its world-renowned international festival, professional development, youth projects and educational programme, Breakin’ Convention seeks to position hip hop dance alongside more historically established artforms.

The Associates

Sadler's WellsThe Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artists, some of whom will form the upcoming ‘The Associates’ programme, represent some of the most exciting talent in contemporary dance today. For this particular programme at Sadler’s Wells, three Associates will present new and critically acclaimed work in February.

Crystal Pite, Kate Prince and Hofesh Shechter will together celebrate the tenth anniversary of the first appointments of Associate Artists by Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding in 2004. Sadler’s Wells is a receiving dance house, however its Associate Artists mean new work is being created within its walls. Since the appointment ten years ago, over 90 productions have been brought to the stage, and even gone on to tour around the world.

Each Associate has a unique style and approach to creating dance. Newest Associate Artist Crystal Pite will present A Picture of You Falling, a duet for a man and a woman. It centres on Pite’s fascination with the shared narratives that live in our bodies, the familiar repetitive storylines that move across cultures and generations, and the body’s role as illustrator. Inspired by the complex beauty of baroque music, Hofesh Shechter presents his new work, the barbarians in love, set in a sparse world in which six dancers move with mathematical precision and passion. Completing the bill is another new work, SMILE, choreographed and performed by Tommy Franzén and directed by Associate Artist Kate Prince. Inspired by the song Smile, originally composed by Charlie Chaplin, the piece looks behind the smiling face of one of the world’s greatest entertainers.

In addition to Crystal Pite, Kate Prince and Hofesh Shechter, Sadler’s Wells’ other 13 Associate Artists are Matthew Bourne, BalletBoyz, Wayne McGregor, Jasmin Vardimon, Christopher Wheeldon, Jonzi D, Sylvie Guillem, Michael Keegan-Dolan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant composer Nitin Sawhney and lighting designer Michael Hulls.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

English National Ballet – Sadler’s Wells’ First Associate Ballet Company

ENB LogoIt has been announced that English National Ballet will become Sadler’s Wells’ first associate ballet company. This exciting relationship will see ENB present two annual seasons at Sadler’s in the spring and autumn of each year from March 2015 onwards.

Future plans include a new triple bill with choreography by William Forsythe, John Neumeier and Jiří Kylián, the return of the acclaimed Lest We Forget programme, and a new production of Giselle choreographed by Akram Khan in autumn 2016.

The company is renowned for its commitment to bringing ballet and contemporary choreography to the widest possible audiences, making it the perfect match for Sadler’s. The new contemporary work commissioned by Artistic Director Tamara Rojo has added an exciting dimension to ENB’s reputation and repertoire, the result of a clear vision for ballet in the 21st century. Rojo will continue to honour great classical works, keeping them relevant to today’s audience, while introducing new works into the company’s repertoire; the classics of the future with Sadler’s as a platform to present them.

ENB’s new triple bill Modern Masters: Icons of 20th Century Choreography programme includes the UK premiere of Neumeier’s Spring and Fall, Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, which is new to the company’s repertoire, with Kylián’s Petite Mort completing the programme.

Lest We Forget, inspired by the centenary of the First World War, includes work by three British choreographers; Dust, by Khan, looking at the empowerment of women in war as the main workforce in the country; Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Russell Maliphant’s Second Breath about the sacrifice of men; and No Man’s Land by Liam Scarlett, exploring relationships and the loss and longing felt by women left behind by their partners.

Meanwhile, Khan’s new version of Giselle aims to give this iconic ballet his own unique interpretation that fulfils an important part of the company’s vision; to commission and present innovative collaborations that honour and enhance both traditional and contemporary ballet.

English National Ballet’s 2014/2015 season

ENB LogoThere has been lots of exciting news for English National Ballet recently, including its presenting Modern Masters: Icons of 20th Century Choreography at Sadler’s Wells in March 2015 (including works by Forsythe, Neumeier and Kylián), two new regional hubs for English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme, the My First Ballet series continuing with a brand new version of Swan Lake and a large international tour to take place in 2015.

Modern Masters will include works from two choreographers new to the Company’s repertoire; William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and Spring and Fall by John Neumeier. The triple bill also includes Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort, first performed by the Company in Ecstasy and Death in 2013. Originally created for Hamburg Ballet, Neumeier’s Spring and Fall is not in the repertoire of any other UK company. Set to Dvořák’s Serenade for Strings in E Major, it features two couples and corps de ballet.

English National Ballet is committed to presenting the very best of both traditional and contemporary ballet to audiences across the UK: bringing these works to Sadler’s Wells continues this commitment and offers the opportunity to reach new audiences. Continuing to develop its work with Dance for Parkinson’s, English National Ballet will expand its regional class programmes to include DanceEast in Ipswich and National Dance Company Wales in Cardiff.

English National Ballet will take its critically acclaimed production of Coppélia to Southampton, Oxford and Bristol, and ahead of its run at the Coliseum in January 2015, Derek Deane’s Swan Lake will tour to Manchester, Milton Keynes and Liverpool. Making ballet accessible to audiences as young as three years old, the popular My First Ballet… series continues with My First Ballet: Swan Lake. The production will run at the Peacock Theatre, London, followed by a six week UK tour.

Elixir Festival

Elixir FestivalMid-September will see Sadler’s Wells present its largest ever celebration of lifelong creativity and the contribution of older artists with the Elixir Festival, running from 12–15 September 2014.

Across the four days, Elixir Festival will feature a range of performances: contributing artists include Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Hofesh Shechter, world-renowned choreographers Mats Ek and Ana Laguna, international guests and the Company of Elders among many others, including a new piece for retired professional dancers which will see them relive their swan songs.

In addition to performances on the main stage the Elixir Festival offers the opportunity for further engagement with a series of workshops, events and a conference to close the festival. The Lilian Baylis Studio performance programme will feature older dancers from international companies and from across the UK, invited to perform after an international call out for contributors; reflecting the diversity of approach and responding to the fast-growing interest in performance work for mature artists.

In the main house at Sadler’s Wells, ‘KnowBody’ encompasses a lifetime of experiences. The programme features artists Mats Ek and Ana Laguna, Sadler’s Wells’ Company of Elders performing a restaged excerpt from Hofesh Shechter’s ‘In your rooms’ and a new commission performed by the former professional dancers, some of whom are returning to the stage after twenty years or more. This unique evening will throw different light on dance and performance to challenge preconceptions and present contemporary dance illuminated by a lifetime of experience. In a juxtaposition of electronic music and contemporary choreography performed by older dancers KnowBody will present beauty and power in single gestures.

The Art of Age Conference will take place on one day only, featuring contributions from artists, choreographers and leaders in culture, health and performance research. There will be a range of focuses, on dance, wellbeing and artistic perspectives, followed by a performance from the Company of Elders in the Lilian Baylis Studio.

Sadler’s Wells’ ten year plan

Sadler's Wells LogoThe UK’s largest dance house, Sadler’s Wells, has announced plans for a new performance space as part of its recent ten year plan. The vision of Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Alistair Spalding, is one which is ambitious, but exciting for a city in which dance thrives. The announcement came almost ten years after he was appointed in his current role, and outlines plans for the next decade.

The main crux of the plans is to establish an additional, fourth performance space for Sadler’s as one of the world’s leading dance organisations, with the expansion backed by a commitment to invest £5 million in commissioning new dance works. The new venue will house 500 seats in order to present new, mid-scale contemporary work in addition to the main dance house and the smaller Lilian Baylis studio theatre. London is lacking in a space of this kind, and it is hoped that the building of one will help confirm London’s position as a global centre for the art form.

Despite the fact Sadler’s Wells is a dance powerhouse, the demand for dance in the capital is continuing to grow, meaning the gap for a mid-scale space must be filled. Spalding believes the new building will give creative talent a proper chance to develop for the future growth of the art form by expanding the current base and without losing the unique quality and atmosphere that is associated with Sadler’s Wells.

As a rule Sadler’s has been transformed from a receiving venue for other companies’ productions to a venue that is celebrated for supporting, commissioning and producing original, new work which it presents nationally and internationally. The dance house aims to present the busiest season of dance ever in the theatre’s 331-year history, with a total of over 40 shows across the three venues during spring/summer 2014.

NYCD To Work With Akram Khan

National Youth Dance CompanyThe National Youth Dance Company is an exciting new company, as part of Sadler’s Wells, that aims to create and perform innovative and influential youth dance. It has announced that it will be working with Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist and acclaimed choreographer Akram Khan as next guest Artistic Director. Following the company’s work with similarly celebrated choreographer Jasmin Vardimon, 30 new members will joining the current company to present a new work specifically created for NYDC; the piece will receive its world premiere on 16 April 2014 at Sadler’s Wells. The new work will be performed as part of a double bill that will feature a reworked excerpt of Khan’s Vertical Road.

The newly recruited members were selected from sixteen workshops held in 9 different regions across the country, resulting in 20 male and 10 female dancers aged 15 – 19 gaining the privilege to work with award-winning dancer and choreographer Khan. Khan thoroughly enjoys working with young people with passion and ambition. He believes, and rightly so, that the positive role of the arts in our society is fundamental in providing young people with the skills they need to succeed in any walk of life. NYDC is a fantastic opportunity to nurture the next generation of artists and inspire a host of young people to get involved with dance.

Since its inception in 2012 NYDC has seen over 500 young dancers attend 27 workshops across England. Over June and July 2013 NYDC took part in nine performances seen by over 5,000 people in a range of venues, from large scale theatres to site specific outdoor stages, in locations stretching from London to Leeds, Bristol to Kent. Having set a very high standard with their sold out debut performance of Jasmin Vardimon’s (in between), the young dancers of NYDC have shown that they can hold their own alongside established companies on the main stage at Sadler’s Wells.

Khan is one of the most celebrated and respected dance artists today. In just over a decade he has created a body of work that has contributed significantly to the cultural arts in the UK and abroad and his reputation has gained from his imaginative, highly accessible and relevant productions such as DESH, Vertical Road, Gnosis and zero degrees.

Next Steps For Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures

Matthew Bourne's New AdventuresOne of the most defining choreographers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Matthew Bourne, has revealed his plans to revive his classic productions of The Car Man and Edward Scissorhands. This is addition to opening a new, dedicated rehearsal and studio space for his company New Adventures which currently resides at Sadler’s Wells. This would give the company the opportunity to do much more with their resources, a plan which is hoped to be in place within two years.

As a choreographer who is renowned for his ability to reinvent well-known classics such as his Tchaikovsky trilogy – Nutcracker!, The Sleeping Beauty and the all-male Swan Lake – Bourne is famous for his story-telling. In reviving two more of his older pieces, following his 25th celebrations and the revivals of his very first pieces, Bourne will be able to appeal strongly to young audiences and perhaps even those new to dance in search of alternative productions.

Bourne has been noted to have said that his New Adventures company is also about to enter a period of development and growth over the next two years, which will include the revivals of crowd-pleasing hit shows alongside new large and medium-scale projects. With both The Car Man and Edward Scissorhands, Bourne hopes to excite young people about dance, supporting the fact a recent article online recently claimed that young boys would rather become dancers than take on a role such as a fireman.

Another exciting venture to look forward to for Bourne and New Adventures is as well as rehearsing and workshopping their own shows, Bourne has said a new, potential premises would allow New Adventures to work with emerging choreographers and expand its dance influence considerably. If 2013 wasn’t busy enough for the company, New Adventures is also preparing to launch tours of three shows – Swan Lake, Lord of the Flies and Sleeping Beauty, featuring more than 70 dancers.