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Sadler’s Wells’ Digital Stage

Posted on April 21, 2020

Natalia Osipova Pure Dance Photographer Rick Guest c Stylist Olivia Pomp

Sadler’s Wells has announced the next four Facebook premieres set for Digital Stage, its free online performance programme. Performances will be screened live on Fridays at 7.30pm UK time via Sadler’s Wells’ Facebook page, and are then available to watch on demand for seven days thereafter. Artists and companies performing include ballet superstar Natalia Osipova, Taiwan’s Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, UK choreographer Alexander Whitley, and Sadler’s Wells’ Breakin’ Convention.

An evening with Natalia Osipova features Alexei Ratmansky’s Valse Triste, specially created for Osipova and American Ballet Theatre principal David Hallberg, alongside Ave Maria by Yuka Oishi set to the music of Schubert, both works originally featured in Osipova’s Pure Dance at Sadler’s Wells in 2018. The programme also features Qutb, a work created for Osipova by Sadler’s Wells associate artist Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui in 2016 and performed with Jason Kittelberger and James O’Hara. An evening with Natalia Osipova screens on April 24 at 7.30pm.

On May 1, the world’s biggest festival of hip hop dance theatre, Breakin’ Convention, looks back to its 2018 edition, on the same weekend that this year’s festival was due to take place. In 2018, Breakin’ Convention featured a collaboration with Jazz re:freshed. Marking both Sadler’s Wells’ 20th anniversary, and the 15th anniversaries of both Breakin’ Convention and Jazz re:freshed, the partnership brought together musicians across jazz, hip hop and beyond, providing original soundscapes and a score by Jason Yarde, to accompany five newly commissioned dance works.

Artists and companies performing represented highlights from past Breakin’ Convention festivals, including The Locksmiths, The Ruggeds, Boy Blue, Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Mufasa, Tanaya “Ice” Martin and host Jonzi D, the founder of Breakin’ Convention. The following day, May 2, Breakin’ Convention also presents a virtual festival across its digital channels, featuring highlights from past programmes, workshops, talks, and wellbeing sessions, full details of which will be announced at a later date.

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Alexander Whitley’s 8 Minutes. Photograph: Johan Persson.

On May 8, Sadler’s Wells associate artist Alexander Whitley presents 8 Minutes. Known for his use of technology, Whitley’s work combines film and dance in this collaboration with scientists from STFC RAL Space. The production, which premiered at Sadler’s Wells in 2017, features a specially created score by Daniel Wohl and an installation of high-definition imagery from visual artist Tal Rosner.

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre has visited Sadler’s Wells for over 20 years, stunning audiences with its unique aesthetic and choreography, most recently in February this year with 13 Tongues and Dust, works created by new artistic director Cheng Tsung-Lung, and founding director Lin Hwai-Min, respectively. Set to Bach’s Suites for Solo Cello, Lin’s masterpiece Moon Water  was first performed at Sadler’s Wells in 2002. Inspired by the Buddhist proverb “Flowers in a mirror and moon on the water are both illusive”, mirrors and gently moving water gradually fill the stage and reflects the dancers’ movements in a meditative performance. Moon Water screens on May 15.

The Sadler’s Wells workshop series for audiences to dance along to at home also continues. This week, the fourth Company of Elders workshop for older adults is available on April 22, hosted by New Adventures resident artist Paul Smethurst. In the workshop, Paul will focus on New Adventures’ signature style of dance theatre, and will teach introductory swing moves, alongside adapted choreography from Matthew Bourne’s production of Swan Lake.

On April 29, International Dance Day, the fifth Company of Elders workshop for older adults is presented by the Company of Elders rehearsal director Simona Scotto, who will lead a ballet-based session. All Company of Elders Workshops can be found online via the Sadler’s Wells Facebook and YouTube channels.

This week also sees the premiere of a new screen dance film featuring the National Youth Dance Company (NYDC). Last summer, NYDC toured MADHEAD, a new production by the 2018-19 NYDC guest artistic director Botis Seva, and this specially commissioned short film, directed by Ben Williams, is inspired by the full-length theatre work. MADHEAD sees 38 young dancers fuse contemporary dance, physical theatre, hip hop, and Seva’s unique choreographic style combining with the dancers’ energy and talent, to produce an exhilarating film. MADHEAD is available to watch on demand via Sadler’s Wells YouTube page.

Further details, including all titles, dates and screening times, will be announced via Sadler’s Wells’ social media channels, and updated here.

Pictured: Natalia Osipova. Photograph: Rick Guest. 

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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