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Autumn 2019 at Sadler’s Wells

Posted on March 26, 2019

English National Ballet in Akram Khans Giselle © Laurent Liotardo 3

Sadler’s Wells has announced its autumn 2019 season, with new works, old favourites and three different productions of Giselle.

The first of the Giselles is Akram Khan’s re-imagination of the archetypal romantic ballet for English National Ballet that returns to Sadler’s Wells from September 18 to 28. Khan’s version sees the action moved to a condemned garment factory, where a community of migrant workers serve at the mercy of the factory’s landlords. The ghostly figures of their victims form a vengeful and awe-inspiring cabal within Tim Yip’s towering set.

Next is South African choreographer Dada Masilo’s Giselle, pictured top, on October 4–5, presented by Dance Consortium, which will then tour the UK. Having reimagined Swan Lake and Carmen, Masilo reinvents the ballet by placing the Romantic heroine in South Africa. Deserted by her lover, Giselle, danced by Masilo herself, is guided by a traditional healer, in a feminist take on the classical ballet.

Featuring a contemporary score by South African composer Philip Miller, which pays homage to the original music by Adolphe Adam as well as traditional Tswana dance styles, Masilo’s Giselle is an exploration of betrayal and revenge.

Finally, David Bintley and Galina Samsova’s production for Birmingham Royal Ballet on November 1–2 offers audiences the opportunity to witness a Giselle that stays true to its 19th-century origins and choreography. Accompanied by the Adam score, performed live by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Giselle tells the story of a trusting girl driven to madness and death by heartbreak.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Alvin Ailey’s Revelations. Photograph by Gert Krautbauer

Other highlights at Sadler’s Wells in autumn include the return of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, following its recent 60th anniversary, from September 4 to 14, with a series of new works alongside modern classics in three mixed programmes.

The company’s signature piece closes each one of its shows. Performed as a prayer, Revelations veers from grief to elation as it explores African-American cultural heritage and spirituality to an emotional score of gospel music and blues.

From November 14 to 16, Dorrance Dance presents a diverse triple bill, exploring the idea of what tap dance can do. In Three to One, choreographer Michelle Dorrance places herself between two barefoot contemporary dancers, while in Jungle Blues lively humour is set to the New Orleans swagger of Branford Marsalis. For Myelination, inspiration comes from within, as electrical transmissions between nerve cells are sped up by a biological phenomenon, creating an energetic ensemble work featuring original live music.

Dorrance Dance in Myelination. Photograph by Dana Lynn Pleasant

Later in the month, from November 18 to 23, Acosta Danza returns to Sadler’s Wells with a second programme of ballet and contemporary works including Paysage, Soudain, la nuit by Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg, Christopher Bruce’s Rooster, in which Carlos Acosta makes a guest appearance, and new work Satori by Cuban choreographer Raul Reinoso.

The evening also includes Sadler’s Wells associate artist Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Faun, inspired by Vaslav Nijinsky’s L’après midi d’un faune, set to fellow associate artist Nitin Sawhney’s interpretation of Debussy’s original composition.

Other highlights of the season include the return of Natalia Osipova’s Pure Dance from October 22 to 26, Russell Maliphant Dance Company’s Silent Lines on October 18–19, and Dance Umbrella and FranceDance UK events in October.

Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg in Valse Triste. Photograph by Johan Persson


In addition to all this, families will be pleased to hear that old favourites such as The Snowman and Some Like It Hip Hop will be making a return to the Peacock Theatre.

For more details or to book tickets for the autumn 2019 season, which are on public sale from April 15 at 9am, go to, call 020 7863 8000 or visit in person from 10am. Booking opens to members from April 12.

Leading image: Dada Masilo’s Giselle. Photograph by Stella Olivier

Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Today she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success. Her debut novel, The Girl Before You, was published last year in paperback, ebook and audiobook.

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