Sadler’s Wells has today announced plans to create a new dance space in London as part of a 10 year vision for the acclaimed theatre.
The 500-seat venue, which will be specifically designed to present new mid-scale contemporary dance in the capital, is a response to the need for a world-class performance space of this size, like those throughout Europe, that will help position London as a global centre for dance and attract more of the world’s leading choreographers and creators to the capital.
Talking at the press announcement this morning, Sadler’s Wells’ Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding said: “[Dance] just isn’t seen in the same light as theatre and opera and the other art forms in this country… So we’ve got to try and push ourselves into a different place. The public appetite for dance has never been greater. We want to respond to this, and give the creative talent in this country a proper chance to develop for the future growth of the art form.”
Described by the venue’s leader as a “contemporary space that young audiences will enjoy”, the new performance space, which is being sought in Islington and across other London boroughs, and joins the leading venue’s three existing spaces, Sadler’s Wells’ main stage, the Lilian Baylis Studio and its West End home, the Peacock theatre, will open in 2018/2019, but it has not yet been decided in what sort of building it will be housed. Spalding commented: “London is a difficult city for new spaces, so that’s the biggest challenge, finding something that is suited to our needs but we can also make affordable. If we find an existing space that we can adapt then we will try and do that… but again in London most of them have been eaten up for residential reasons, so we may end up building a new building.”
The announcement of the new space comes as Spalding outlines a 10 year plan for the venue that will also see £5 million of funds earmarked for original dance work throughout the next decade, a continued commitment to touring work globally, Crystal Pite welcomed to the venue as its 16th Associate Artist, and a £1 million investment in supporting young talent through initiatives such as the Sadler’s Wells Summer University, Wild Card and New Wave Associate.
Also announced today is the busiest season in Sadler’s Wells’ 331 year history, with more than 40 shows from dance companies across the world playing as part of the forthcoming 2014 programme.
Next summer, football fever will meet dance fever as Sadler’s Wells gets in the World Cup spirit by welcoming 35 performers from Rio de Janeiro to the venue for Brasil Brasileiro. Conceived and directed by Tony and Olivier Award nominee Claudio Segovia, the show incorporates samba, forró, capoeira and batucada to bring Brazil to Islington from 8 to 27 July.
Other season highlights include the return of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch with 1880, a rarely performed piece by Pina Bausch that was created following the death of her professional and romantic partner Ralf Borzik, which plays at the Islington venue from 7 to 16 February, and the UK premiere of newly announced Associate Artist Pite’s latest work The Tempest Replica on 25 and 26 April.
Another UK premiere comes from Cloud Gate Dance Theatre Of Taiwan, the first contemporary dance company in any Chinese speaking country, whose new piece, Rice, inspired by Taiwan’s East Rift Valley, and Nine Songs, its acclaimed 1993 creation based on classical Chinese poems, plays at Sadler’s Wells from 21 to 27 February in celebration of the company’s 40th anniversary year.
The new year will also welcome a number of French productions to the capital, beginning with Enfant, dancer and choreographer Boris Charmatz’s innovative piece about the relationship between muscular energy and movement, on 29 and 30 January.
Enfant will be followed by the UK premiere of James Thiérrée’s dance circus creation Tabac Rouge, which comes to Sadler’s Wells following its 2013 premiere in Paris, and Olivier Dubois UK choreographic debut Tragédie from 8 to 10 May.
Sadler’s Wells will also welcome back Olivier Award winner Akram Khan, who will present The Rashomon Effect with the National Youth Dance Company alongside an extract from his acclaimed work Vertical Road on 16 April, before returning in the autumn with the premiere of a new Sadler’s Wells co-production created with contemporary Flamenco star Israel Galván.
Continuing the season of returns are Russell Maliphant, who brings Still Current, an evening of duets, trios and solos, to the venue from 5 to 7 June, hip hop dance theatre festival Breakin’ Convention, which returns for another year, and Sadler’s Sampled (17 to 29 June), showcasing world class dance to large audiences for a second time following its debut in 2013.
The 2014 season will follow an incredible year for the acclaimed dance venue, which generated £10 for every £1 of subsidy in 2012/2013. During this time, a total of 569 performances were presented in Sadler’s Wells’ three London spaces, with audience figures reaching close to a staggering 500,000 people, and Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty was seen by 96,000 people, becoming the best-attended Christmas show in Sadler’s Wells’ history.
Of the half a million audience members visiting Sadler’s Wells in the past year, 70,000 were new to the venue, a statistic that, as Chairman David Bell commented at the announcement earlier today, “show[s] that the appetite for dance in the UK isn’t only incredibly strong, but it is continuing to grow.”
"Dance just isn’t seen in the same light as theatre and opera and the other art forms in this country… So we’ve got to try and push ourselves into a different place."