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West Side Story tops Sadler’s spring season

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 18 April 2008

The eclectic spring season at Sadler’s Wells and the Peacock, which includes one world premiere and eight UK premieres, will culminate in a staging of West Side Story marking the 50th anniversary of the classical musical’s London debut. The season also includes a collection of shows as part of the China Now festival, a new work by Sadler’s Wells resident company Random Dance and the first London performances by New York City Ballet in 25 years.

West Side Story, the memorable musical collaboration by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and choreographer Jerome Robbins, has held its place as one of the world’s most loved musicals thanks to songs including Maria, America and I Feel Pretty. This production, which opens in July, is directed by Joey McKneely and has already found acclaim in Tokyo, Paris and Beijing.

The season opens with the second incarnation of Sadler’s Wells Sampled on 26-27 January, a weekend of events in which it is possible to try almost every form of dance available at the Islington venue. This is followed by the return of Tango Por Dos, with a UK premiere, and Pina Bausch. More returning artists include Opera North, which presents Peter Grimes and The Adventures Of Pinocchio, Yamato Drummers Of Japan, Nederlands Dans Theatre 1, English National Ballet, Ye Gam Theatre, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Northern Ballet Theatre, Phoenix Dance Theatre, The Ballet Boyz and Rambert Dance Company.

The China Now festival, which launches in February 2008 and runs until the opening of the Beijing Olympics, is the largest UK-wide festival of Chinese culture ever to be staged. Sadler’s Wells presents four pieces as part of the celebrations: Flemish/Moroccan dancer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui has worked with artist Antony Gormley and the Shaolin Monks to produce Sutra; Akram Khan, who created Zero Degrees with Cherkaoui, has collaborated with the National Ballet of China for Bahok; Suzhou Kunqu Opera Company of Jiangsu Province presents Chinese love story The Peony Pavilion; and the work of Dick Wong, Sang Jijia and Dance Now Exchange is seen at the Lilian Baylis.

Regular festivals Breakin’ Convention and Flamenco Festival London return to Sadler’s Wells for 2008. A new festival, Spring Dance At The London Coliseum, which is being co-produced by Sadler’s Wells and runs at the London Coliseum, features New York City Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Carlos Acosta, and Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant. The season runs in March and April.

Possibly the most surprising concept of the new Sadler’s Wells season though, is the UK premiere of Bounce’s new work, presented at the Peacock from 27 February to 16 March. The production is a street dance interpretation of Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, in which breakdancing becomes a way of expressing yourself and rebelling on the strictly controlled ward of Nurse Ratched.



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