“A lot of anniversaries fell on that year,” Bourne explained, “20 years of Nutcracker!, the tenth Christmas season at Sadler’s Wells. We decided it was a year to celebrate – and, more than ever before, to establish the company as a brand, as well as – well, my name has become a thing. It’s interesting, the company name has become better known on tour than it has in London!
“We want to really push the company – the fact that we have a repertory, we are a company that’s been here for a while, we’re going to continue. I still get amazed when people don’t realise that these pieces are part of a rep, that we’re a proper dance company, we do class every day. They think it’s like a show, with no continuity. In fact, this is a very, very loyal bunch of technicians and performers, who have worked for many years. It’s very family-like, the company. So that was one of the reasons to do it. Basically, we’re celebrating with a look back and a look forwards.”
Founded in 1987 as Adventures in Motion Pictures, New Adventures is one of the world’s most successful dance companies. The anniversary year will open with a seven week season of Nutcracker! at Sadler’s Wells, the company’s tenth consecutive festive season at the theatre. Created in 1992, the work has been seen by more than 218,000 people in London alone. The Sadler’s Wells season will be followed by a UK tour.
In May, Sadler’s Wells presents Early Adventures, a mixed bill of early works by Bourne. It includes his first hit Spitfire, created in 1988, The Infernal Galop (1989) and the Olivier-nominated Town and Country. “It’s a triple bill going back to the early days,” Bourne told Dance Today, “touring to the smaller, mid-scale venues that we used to tour to many years ago. I’m so excited, really excited by that. It’s a gift to be able to do it.”
In July, the company dance Play Without Words, which won the Olivier awards for best entertainment and best theatre choreographer after its premiere at the National Theatre in 2002. The production will also tour to Leicester and Norwich.
The anniversary year will end with a Christmas season of The Sleeping Beauty, to Tchaikovsky’s score. The new production will be designed by Lez Brotherston, with lighting by Paule Constable and sound design by Paul Groothius.
Bourne said: “Perrault’s timeless fairy tale, about a young girl cursed to sleep for 100 years, was turned into a legendary ballet by Tchaikovsky and choreographer Marius Petipa in 1890. I have taken this as a starting point, setting the christening of Aurora, the story’s heroine, in the year of the ballet’s first performance, the height of the fin-de-siècle period when fairies, vampires and decadent opulence fed the gothic imagination. As Aurora grows into a young woman, we move forwards in time to the more rigid, uptight Edwardian era, a mythical golden age of long summer afternoons, croquet on the lawn and new dance crazes. Years later, awakening from her century-long slumber, Aurora finds herself in the modern day, a world more mysterious and wonderful than any fairy story!”
Alistair Spalding, artistic director of Sadler’s Wells, said: “I am delighted that we will be recognising Matthew Bourne’s incredible contribution and achievements at Sadler’s Wells next year. No other artist in dance has succeeded in bringing so many new audiences to the form. For the past decade, the success of Sadler’s Wells and New Adventures have gone hand in hand, with the company’s regular Christmas and summer seasons introducing a new, wider audience to the theatre, who we have in turn been able to bring to other productions in our programme. The beauty of the relationship is a shared vision for dance, in bringing the best quality performance to the widest range of people, and next year will be a suitable celebration of this.”