News: A New artistic vision for Sadler’s Wells

Monday 7 March 2005

Four months after his appointment as CEO and Artistic Director of Sadler’s Wells, Alistair Spalding today unveils a bold new artistic vision for the theatre. The announcement follows an autumn season of record sales and the fastest-selling spring season in the theatre’s recent history. Ticket sales for the autumn season were up by nearly 40% on the same period last year, with average attendances of 78%.

Alistair Spalding said, “We’ve undergone a tremendous period of change over the last two years. But now with the business on a secure footing, I want to invest more in the development of dance and the creation of new work. This initiative brings together a group of outstanding artists under one roof to work with us in completely new ways.” “Dance is at a very exciting stage right now. We have shown that there is demand for dance which can sustain a 1,500 seat theatre for 48 weeks of the year. And as we see the programme going from strength to strength, our own audiences become more adventurous in what they want to try. Our new artistic direction confirms our transition from being just a receiving house, to being a producing house- a national powerhouse for dance.”

The new artistic direction marks the transition of Sadler’s Wells from receiving house to producing house, and firmly establishes it as the foremost dance venue in the UK, and the home of dance in London.

The theatre will expand its artistic programme with the appointment of three new artistic associates based at Sadler’s Wells, who join the theatre’s current Resident Company, Random Dance and Associate Company, Rambert Dance Company.

For the first time, the theatre will begin to commission new work and develop its production role extending into international co-production. A new initiative will establish the Sadler’s Wells Studio in which selected choreographers will be invited to work with collaborators and dancers to develop concepts and ideas for large-scale pieces.

The new artistic associates are:

Matthew Bourne, the UK’s most successful choreographer and winner of five Olivier Awards

George Piper Dances- Ballet Boyz Michael Nunn and William Trevitt – who set out to de-mystify dance and choreography with their refreshing and accessible Channel 4 TV series

Jonzi D, producer and curator of Sadler’s Wells’ hugely successful Hip Hop dance festival last year.

The three new Associates Companies join Random Dance, internationally renowned for its cutting-edge work and exploration of dance, science and technology and Resident Company at Sadler’s Wells since 2001 and Associate Company, Rambert.

Random Dance premieres a new work, Amu, co-commissioned by Sadler’s Wells in September. Rambert, the largest contemporary dance company in the country, presents two seasons a year at Sadler’s Wells under its Artistic Director, Mark Baldwin. In February, the company won an Olivier Award for its production of Swamp, presented at Sadler’s Wells.

Matthew Bourne and New Adventures have opened up the world of dance to a whole new audience with ground-breaking productions of Nutcracker! and Swan Lake. New Adventures now becomes a new Associate Company. The appointment confirms the theatre as Bourne’s home base and means closer working relationships and the development of joint projects. Speaking about his new association with Sadler’s Wells, Matthew Bourne said: “Sadler’s Wells gave me one of my first big breaks when they took the risk of presenting my daring production of Swan Lake in 1995. We have never looked back. It’s the sort of creative environment which helps you give your best, and it has some of the most appreciative audiences in the world. It’s like a second home to me.”

George Piper Dances becomes an Associate Company with a home base and office at the theatre. Following two sell-out runs with Sylvie Guillem in the autumn and spring, the company’s new commission Naked, choreographed in collaboration by Russell Maliphant, will receive its world premiere at Sadler’s Wells in June. Michael Nunn said: “Billy and I are thrilled that George Piper Dances will make its theatrical home at Sadler’s Wells – it is a wonderful opportunity for our company. It is so important for artists to have a theatre base, to be exposed to and surrounded by other great artists and performers and the environment at Sadler’s Wells offers just that. We feel honoured to be a part of this great Dance house.”

Jonzi D, the curator of Sadler’s Well’s Hip Hop dance festivals becomes Associate Artist, based at the theatre, with a three-year relationship and wide-ranging remit to develop new work. In 2004, the first Breakin’ Convention festival sold out within days and featured over 250 artists from all over the world. This year’s festival runs from 12 -15 May. “For the first time in my artistic career, I am in a space where my vision of Hip Hop theatre can be nurtured, developed and presented with trust, respect and understanding. The excellent resources, years of experience, and positive energy at Sadler’s Wells, makes this an ideal home!”

Also working with the theatre more closely will be Akram Khan will also be working with the company more closely. With his company he will premiere the second of Sadler’s Wells’ new commissions this July. In a striking new piece, Akram Khan teams up with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Antony Gormley and Nitin Sawhney in an original exploration of cultural identity.

Press links
Charlotte Higgins, Guardian, 7 Mar

David Blewitt, The Stage, 17 March.05

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