Sadler’s Wells announces a special socially distanced season for Autumn 2020

14 Oct 2020

OVERFLOW by Alexander Whitley Dance Company. Image Credit: Johan Persson

Today Sadler’s Wells is excited to announce a special new season of live dance and digital content for Autumn 2020, including further performances for socially distanced audiences at Sadler’s Wells Theatre and new details for online programme, Digital Stage In Focus:

  • Live dance continues at Sadler’s Wells this autumn with more performances for socially distanced audiences announced, including Christmas dates, and performances from a stellar line-up of Sadler’s Wells associate companies and artists, including English National Ballet, Alexander Whitley Dance Company, Breakin’ Convention and Ballo Arthur Pita
  • English National Ballet returns to Sadler’s Wells for its first performances since lockdown with a specially commissioned programme of world premieres featuring choreography by Arielle Smith, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant, Yuri Possokhov and Stina Quagebeur
  • Alexander Whitley Dance Company’s new work Overflow receives its London premiere in November, following earlier cancellations due to the Coronavirus pandemic
  • Breakin’ Convention returns to Sadler’s Wells with Social DisDancingfeaturing new performances from Boy Blue, AIM and Jamaal O’Driscoll
  • Ballo Arthur Pita’s magical The Little Match Girl returns for the festive season, staged in Sadler’s Wells Theatre for the first-time following Christmas performances in the Lilian Baylis Studio
  • Tickets for all performances announced today are available via priority booking from Monday 12 October and on public sale from Thursday 15 October
  • Digital Stage In Focus continues online featuring Sadler’s Wells collaborations with world-leading dance companies ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company and Candoco Dance Company, with full details of bespoke content for digital audiences and participants announced today
  • More digital offerings announced include a new documentary charting the National Youth Dance Company’s special Sadler’s Wells residency and Sadler’s Wells first Virtual Gala

Sadler’s Wells Associate Company English National Ballet returns in November with An Evening with English National Ballet, a programme of world premieres from five of today’s most exciting contemporary choreographers, Arielle Smith, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant, Yuri Possokhov and Stina Quagebeur. Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Laid in Earth is a “torn apart” quartet. It is set to Purcell’s famous aria from Dido and Aeneas – sung live by mezzo soprano Flora McIntosh, as well as new electronic music composed by Olga Wojciechowska. Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist, Russell Maliphant creates ever shifting choreography and uses light as an integral partner in the creative process. He collaborates on this project with video artist Panagiotis Tomaras and with commissioned sound design by Dana Fouras.  A former principal dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, world-renowned choreographer Yuri Possokhov works with a UK company for the first time. His piece for four dancers, 7, is based on Vasily Grossman’s great novel, Life and Fate, about a Russian family caught in the Second World War and is set to Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No1 which is performed live by musicians of English National Ballet Philharmonic. In Take Five Blues, Stina Quagebeur’s choreography responds to two of her favourite pieces of music, Bach’s Vivace and Paul Desmond’s jazz standard, Take Five – both performed live in arrangement’s by English National Ballet Music Director Gavin Sutherland. Arielle Smith’s Jolly Folly is fast-paced, surprising, and energetic, driven by Latin and jazz-infused covers of Tchaikovsky, Strauss and Mozart by the Klazz Brothers’. English National Ballet give four performances from Thursday 19 – Saturday 21 November.

Sadler’s Wells New Wave Associate Alexander Whitley and his company return to the main stage with performances of new work Overflow from Friday 27 – Saturday 28 November, receiving its London premiere, following the cancellation of its original run in April 2020 as part of Sadler’s Wells Digital Edition due to national lockdown. Known for his adventurous use of technology, Whitley’s Overflow considers how our desires, fantasies and vulnerabilities are powerfully influenced by social platforms and explores what lurks beneath our compulsions to check, share and like. Featuring a dazzling kinetic light sculpture by Children of the Light, costumes from award-winning designer Ana Rajcevic and an original score from London-based producer Rival Consoles, whose music features in the Netflix series Black MirrorOverflow delves into what it means to be human in the era of big data.

Breakin’ Convention takeover Sadler’s Wells Theatre in December, presenting its first live events since lockdown and the cancellation of the 2020 Festival. Hosted by Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist and Breakin’ Convention Artistic Director Jonzi D, Social DisDancing is a mini-festival of new work showcasing the best of hip hop dance. The evening features performances from AIM, the high-energy all female popping crew; a London premiere for Jamaal O’Driscoll, featuring b-boy Marius in a duet exploring duality and mental clarity; and a world premiere from renowned East London company and Breakin’ Convention favourites, Boy Blue. The event will also feature film screenings, including a showing of Jonzi D and jessica Care moore’s recent work, the powerful Our Bodies Back, a riveting dance film that speaks out against anti-Black racism and honours the lived experiences of Black women past and present. Breakin’ Convention Social DisDancing runs Friday 11 – Saturday 12 December 2020.

Christmas returns to Sadler’s Wells with performances of Ballo Arthur Pita’s magical family favourite The Little Match Girl, following five hugely successful Christmas seasons in the Lilian Baylis Studio. Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story, director and choreographer Arthur Pita presents a beautiful reimagining of The Little Match Girl through dance, song and Frank Moon’s atmospheric music performed live on stage. On an icy cold Christmas eve in an imaginary Italian town, the little match girl wanders the streets with just one final match to keep her warm. Along her journey she encounters kindness and cruelty, in a timeless fable about family, friendship and hope. The Little March Girl runs across the festive season from Thursday 17 – Sunday 27 December, this time in Sadler’s Wells Theatre to allow social distancing for audiences to take place.

Tickets for all live performances announced today are available via priority booking from Monday 12 October and on public sale from Thursday 15 October. These events follow Sadler’s Wells’ first public socially distanced performances since lockdown, presented by Birmingham Royal Ballet at the end of October. Performances of Lazuli Sky, a new programme inspired by socially distancing and the first commissioned by Carlos Acosta in his new role as Artistic Director, run from Thursday 29 to Saturday 31 October 2020, in Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Further information about all performances and ticket sales are available from

In order to help artists, audiences and staff members to feel safe and enjoy these performances, Sadler’s Well has introduced a series of new safety measures and are closely following all UK Government guidance in presenting these events. Ticket bookers will be sent full information about all coronavirus safety measures in advance of the performance, so that they may plan accordingly and feel as secure as possible during their visit. These guidelines are also available on Sadler’s Wells website via the following link. If these performances are unable to be presented due to changes to UK Government coronavirus restrictions, customers will be contacted as soon as possible and given the option to receive a full refund. Sadler’s Wells, alongside all companies performing in upcoming events, have also followed recommended UK government protocols in order ensure the safety of all artists and crew involved by creating performances in a covid-secure environment.

In addition to live performances, Sadler’s Wells also extends its digital offering, with further details of Digital Stage In Focus announced today. This new series, featuring Sadler’s Wells in collaboration with three world-renowned dance companies, began in September with Sadler’s Wells x Hofesh Shechter Company, a hugely successful partnership that drew more than 1.4 million views globally. Each collaboration features a digital screening of a full-length performance made available for seven days; a Get Into Dance Workshop, which is a 30-minute introductory level session devised by each company in its own distinct dance style; and a bespoke piece of digital content created especially for this series. Digital Stage In Focus is free for all audiences with content released via the Sadler’s Wells website, Facebook page, Instagram and YouTube channels.

The next digital takeover, Sadler’s Wells x ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company, takes place from Monday 19 October – Friday 30 October:

  • The collaboration begins with a Get Into Dance Workshop hosted by Bradley Charles, Artistic Director of ZooNation Youth Company, which is available to access via the Sadler’s Wells YouTube channel and Facebook page from Monday 19 October. Bradley will lead an introductory level dance workshop in Locking, a funk style used in a wide range of ZooNation’s work, including Some Like It Hip Hop aimed at all ages.
  • The series continues with a previously announced streaming of dance smash-hit Some Like It Hip Hop available to watch for seven days on Sadler’s Wells Facebook Page and YouTube channel from Thursday 22 October, 7:00pm BST. Audiences can also enjoy a brand-new companion film exploring the making of Some Like It Hip Hop featuring interviews with members of the company and creative team who made the production.
  • The final element of the residency is a new dance tutorial led by Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist and ZooNation Artistic Director Kate Prince. The workshop will teach participants the iconic choreography to ‘Teardrop Breakdown’, a section of choreography from Kate’s critically acclaimed production Into The Hoodswhich the company performed live at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebrations. The Teardrop Breakdown features the music of DJ Walde and will be available for audiences to watch via the Sadler’s Wells YouTube channel and IGTV from Monday 26 October. Audiences will be invited to film themselves taking part and share via social media channels.

The final takeover, Sadler’s Wells x Candoco Dance Company, runs from Monday 23 November – Friday 4 December:

  • The collaboration begins with a Get Into Dance Workshop, hosted by company members Joel Brown and Olivia Edginton, who will introduce viewers to Candoco’s style and technique, available to stream from Monday 23 November.
  • The series continues with a previously announced streaming of the company’s powerful dance work Let’s Talk About Dis, created by Sadler’s Wells New Wave Associate Hetain Patel, which will be available to watch for seven days on Sadler’s Wells’ Facebook Page and YouTube channel from Thursday 26 November, 7:00pm BST.
  • Finally, Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage and Candoco present a special new digital commission in collaboration with the Alternative Limb Project, founded by Sophie de Oliveira Barata and using the unique medium of prosthetics to create highly stylised wearable art pieces. Together they will present a dance film, co-created by Candoco’s Artistic Director Charlotte Darbyshire, Sophie de Oliveira Barata and dancer Welly O’Brien, exploring the concept and changing perception of time and featuring a bespoke alternative limb created especially for Welly by Sophie and her specialist team. This unique limb is carved from cherry wood and features a working cuckoo clock and pendulum, creating both a nostalgic and contemporary feel. The film is available to watch via the Sadler’s Wells YouTube channel and Facebook page from Monday 30 November.

As part of Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage, audiences can also enjoy a new documentary film which follows the special National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) residency that took place at Sadler’s Wells in August. NYDC were half way through their creative process with Guest Artistic Director Russell Maliphant when the UK went into lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Their April residency, premiere and national tour had to be cancelled. This documentary film captures the unique residency which took place at the end of August through strict social distancing measures, in which the 39 dancers returned to Sadler’s Wells to rehearse, re-work and share extracts from the originally conceived work in progress to friends and family on the Sadler’s Wells stage. The NYDC documentary will be available on Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage later this month. 

On Saturday 5 December from 7:30pm – 8:30pm Sadler’s Wells presents its first Global Gala, a specially curated online showcase of performances and messages from our global family of artists and ambassadors to celebrate and support dance. This hour-long programme will be free to access online with the opportunity for audience members to donate to Sadler’s Wells. All funds raised through the programme will be matched and will contribute to the reopening of our theatres and the return of artists and audiences to our physical spaces. Further information, including the artists, programme and how to watch, will be released soon.

Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and CEO, Alistair Spalding said: “We are so pleased to present this wide-ranging new programme of socially distanced performances and digital dance across this autumn and Christmas season. We’ve worked tirelessly with colleagues and partners across the sector to offer audiences world-class dance in new and innovative ways. Getting to the stage where we can welcome audiences, artists and colleagues back to our theatre feels like a huge achievement, in light of the continuing pandemic, and I’m cautiously optimistic that these socially distant performances are just the first steps on the path of reopening fully. Performance opportunities, like the ones we are announcing today, are critical for dancers and choreographers at all stages of their careers. It’s vital that we at Sadler’s Wells keep innovating so that we can create opportunities for our community of artists, companies and colleagues during and after the pandemic so that we can all continue to serve our global audiences. Above all, we remain committed making and sharing dance on stage and online, with flexibility, determination and urgency.”