The National Ballet of Canada presents Frontiers: Choreographers of Canada

This triple bill includes works by three choreographers from Canada: Crystal Pite’s Angels’ Atlas, Emma Portner’s islands and James Kudelka’s Passion.

04 July 2024


The National Ballet of Canada – Angels’ Atlas by Crystal Pite © Karolina Kuras

The National Ballet of Canada presents the UK premiere of Frontiers: Choreographers of Canada at Sadler’s Wells on Wednesday 2 – Sunday 6 October 2024. This triple bill includes works by three leading choreographers hailing from Canada: Crystal Pite’s Angels’ Atlas, Emma Portner’s islands and James Kudelka’s Passion. Founded by Celia Franca in 1951 the company is renowned for its diverse repertoire ranging from traditional ballets to contemporary work. The company encourages the creation of new ballets as well as the development of Canadian choreographers. The company is returning to Sadler’s Wells for the first time since 2013 when they presented Alexei Ratmansky’s Romeo and Juliet.

Hope Muir, Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada said, “Sadler’s Wells was my home theatre for several years, and it is exciting to be returning with The National Ballet of Canada in the capacity of Artistic Director. I have a unique relationship to the theatre as Rambert was the first company to perform there after the rebuild in 1998 and I feel that I developed as an artist and performer on that stage. It will always feel like a creative home to me, and I am thrilled to be coming back with our extraordinary company.”

Sir Alistair Spalding CBE, Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Co-Chief Executive, said,

“It is an honour to welcome The National Ballet of Canada back to the Sadler’s Wells stage with three outstanding Canadian choreographers, demonstrating the fantastic choreography and dance this company produces.”  

Acclaimed choreographer and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Crystal Pite presents her much anticipated work Angels’ Atlas, created especially for the company, which originally premiered in Toronto in 2020. The Dora Award-winning ballet unfolds against a morphing wall of light that carries the illusion of depth and a sense of the natural world. The dancing body becomes a sign of humanity’s limitations within a vast, unknowable world. The ballet is set to original music by Owen Belton and choral pieces by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Morten Lauridsen. 

In a choreographic career spanning three decades, Pite has created more than 50 works for dance companies in Canada and around the world. Pite made her Royal Ballet choreographic debut in the 2016/17 Season with the Olivier Award-winning Flight Pattern. In 2022, Pite’s Light of Passage was the Royal Ballet’s first full-length work by a female choreographer in almost 30 years.

In 2002, Pite formed her company Kidd Pivot in Vancouver which tours nationally and internationally. The company recently toured Assembly Hall, a co-creation with playwright Jonathon Young including a run at Sadler’s Wells. Pite has been an associate choreographer with Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) since 2008 and has recently worked with Simon McBurney, Artistic Director of Complicité, on Figures in Exctinction [1.0] which premiered at Sadler’s Wells in 2023 as part of a new four-year collaboration.

Emma Portner’s islands is a sculptural duet for two women in which the dancers are joined, fusing their bodies together as one. The work is set to an eclectic compilation of music by contemporary artists and original music by Forest Swords, bringing together hip-hop, dub, guitar loops and electronic sampling for a rhythmic, avant-garde sound.   

Portner created islands for the Norwegian National Ballet in 2020, this was her debut as a ballet choreographer, and in the following commissions she has continued to challenge the conventions of the artform. Portner is on track to create five ballets by her 30th birthday in November of this year. She has made dances for Justin Bieber, collaborated with Michelle Dorrance, and worked on the West End musical Bat Out of Hell.

James Kudelka’s abstract ballet Passion which he created for Houston Ballet in 2013 is a love story set to the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Concerto for Piano in D, Op. 61a. Two couples each stylistically unique – one classical, the other contemporary – weave within the corps-de-ballet, evoking complex relationships of passion. 

Kudelka has choreographed for many of the world’s leading ballet companies and was Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada from 1996 to 2005. During his tenure, Kudelka became renowned for his distinctive versions of classical ballets including The Nutcracker and Cinderella which continue to be signature works of the company.