Sadler’s Wells & BBC Arts Announce Line Up for all-day Digital Festival Dancing Nation

15 Dec 2020

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Lazuli Sky

*Please note: event date has now changed – Dancing Nation was originally scheduled to broadcast on 14 January 2021; it will now be available on 28 January 2021 in order for the broadcast to be compliant with new coronavirus guidelines

Today, Sadler’s Wells and BBC Arts announce details of a special new collaboration celebrating the UK’s outstanding dance talent as it returns to the stage, in an all-day digital, live and pre-recorded broadcast, Dancing Nation.

A festival of world-class dance taking place at Sadler’s Wells, Dancing Nation is streamed on BBC iPlayer for audiences in the UK and on Sadler’s Wells’ website for viewers outside the UK, throughout the day on Thursday 14 January 2021. The event features a series of new works and audience favourites from a diverse and thrilling line up of the UK’ s best-loved dance artists. All performances are staged and filmed in strict compliance with current Covid-19 health and safety guidelines.

The programme includes big-name dancers and choreographers alongside breakthrough talent across ballet, contemporary and hip-hop dance styles, including works from Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, English National Ballet, Royal Ballet principal dancer Natalia Osipova, Boy Blue, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, Akram Khan, Rambert and more.

Supported by Arts Council England, Dancing Nation features fifteen live or pre-recorded performances, artists inhabiting spaces throughout Sadler’s Wells, across its stages, studios and foyer spaces in an all-day ‘take-over’ of the building. The event will be streamed at three points throughout the day in hour-long segments. Each episode will be hosted by BBC presenter Brenda Emmanus, introducing the performances and interviewing artists. After the initial broadcast, each programme will be available for 30 days on BBC iPlayer for audiences in the UK and on Sadler’s Wells website for those outside the UK, followed by a 90-minute highlights programme which is available for 12 months.

Dancing Nation starts with the first segment streaming live from Sadler’s Wells at 10.30 am GMT on Thursday 14 January, with two more programmes following at 1.30 pm GMT and 4.30 pm GMT. Full programme details for each episode will be released in the new year.

Featured works include: Matthew Bourne’s seminal early piece Spitfire (1988) presented by dancers from his company New Adventures; two of the world’s most celebrated dancers, Akram Khan and Royal Ballet principal Natalia Osipova, performing together for the very first time, in a work inspired by Akram Khan and Sylvie Guillem’s critically acclaimed 2006 duet, Sacred Monsters; English National Ballet with Hollow by emerging talent Stina Quagebeur; Candoco Dance Company’s Face In, a contemporary dance piece by Yasmeen Godder which debuted at Sadler’s Wells in 2018; Birmingham Royal Ballet’s recent work Lazuli Sky, choreographed by Will Tuckett, alongside an interview with world-famous ballet luminary and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Artistic Director, Carlos Acosta; Northern Irish choreographer Oona Doherty’s swaggering, award-winning dance-theatre tour de force, Hope Hunt & the Ascension into Lazarus; and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance’s Contagion, a timely restaging of this work through which we reflect on the coronavirus crisis through the lens of a previous pandemic.

New works and commissions premiered as part of Dancing Nation include: break-through dance company HUMANHOOD’s moon-inspired ORBIS and SPHERA, exploring the relationship and influence of Earth’s satellite on humans; Shades of Blue, from Matsena Productions, a response in dance to the effects of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement; and Northern Ballet’s States of Mind by Kenneth Tindall – a resident artist with the company.

The programmes also include hip-hop theatre and pop-contemporary works, with dance powerhouse Boy Blue in an extract from their searing Olivier-nominated hit, Blak Whyte Gray; Rambert’s Rouge from choreographer Marion Motin, known in the pop world through her work with artists Christine and the Queens and Dua Lipa; Far From the Norm, blending hip-hop and contemporary dance styles in an extract from their Olivier Award-winning BLKDOG; and hip-hop dance powerhouse Breakin’ Convention, led by Artistic Director Jonzi D, take us off stage with Window Shopping, transforming Sadler’s Wells public spaces with a diverse meeting of popping, voguing, flamenco and ballet performance.

Dancing Nation is part of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine, a virtual festival of the arts rooted in the experience of national lockdown, supporting the UK creative sector during the pandemic with unique commissions and an arts and culture service running across platforms, providing access to arts for all.

Dancing Nation also forms part of Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage, an online programme of performances and workshops for people to watch at home. Since March 2020, it has been enjoyed by audiences all over the world, generating over 5 million video views globally, and enabling Sadler’s Wells to stay connected with audiences throughout the pandemic.

Stephen James-Yeoman, Commissioning Executive, Digital & Festivals: ‘Dance has the ability to captivate and energise; enthral and give us time for reflection. We are delighted to be working together with Sadler’s Wells and Arts Council England on Dancing Nation to showcase amazing and thought-provoking work from some of the UK’s most respected and talented dancers and choreographers. Throughout this most challenging of years the UK’s creative industries continue to innovate to ensure audiences have access to world class culture and BBC Arts is committed to working with those artists and organisations as part of its Culture in Quarantine initiative to bring art and culture into the nation’s homes.’

Alistair Spalding, Artistic Director and CEO of Sadler’s Wells said: ‘We’re really looking forward to starting the New Year as we mean to go on, by partnering with incredible artists to bring you world-class performances in Dancing Nation. The event is a showcase of the breadth of dancers and choreographers making work in the UK today, and a celebration of their talent to inspire us to look forward to 2021 with renewed optimism. We hope that audiences all around the world will join with us at points throughout the day to watch the event and enjoy some of the artists and performances we have been missing this year. We thank our partners at BBC Arts and Arts Council England for their continued support, collaboration and commitment to artists and arts audiences, which have made ambitious projects like Dancing Nation possible.’