Following a hugely successful show in Sadler’s Wells’ Spring Season, NYDC 2015 give their valedictory performance in their host venue in the Autumn as part of an annual festival of youth dance, Apex Rising.
The festival offers two programmes. In Programme A, NYDC bring us a panorama of the company’s repertoire from the last three years, including the work of leading choreographers and former company Artistic Directors Jasmin Vardimon and Akram Khan; and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Artistic Director over the past year.
Programme B features youth companies from England, Scotland and Wales alongside international guests.
So, what should you expect from a NYDC performance?
You should expect, first of all, an unwavering commitment from young dancers from all walks of life and a determination not to let this opportunity slip from their hands.
Set up in 2012 to nurture young talent, the company takes in some 30 new dancers for a one year period through open auditions and workshops up and down the country. They are aged between 16 and 19. All are studying dance at a variety of schools. All are impressively talented. Most importantly, though, all share what Claire Niesyto-Bame, a member of the 2014-15 intake calls “our hunger for dance.”
A year with NYDC provides these dancers with an unrivalled opportunity to learn stagecraft, to bond together into a company, to learn from illustrious Associate Artists and above all to perform extensively in all manner of venues across the country.
Given the high-level and professionalism of their performance, it’s all the more surprising to learn that they meet only during school holidays. Three times a year they go on what are called “intensive residencies” where long days start at 8am and finish at 9.30pm.
As another member of the 2105 intake, Tommy Hodgkins, put it, ‘That’s one of the beauties of NYDC. We work incredibly hard over that short period, and we become like one.”
National Youth Dance Company: Frame[d]
Over the past year NYDC have been working under the Belgian choreographer and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. For NYDC Cherkaoui, one of the most exciting choreographers working today (as Sadler's Wells regulars will be only too aware!), created a sequence of extracts from his own repertory.
He had his young dancers very much in mind when assembling the piece he came to call Frame[d]. “I was looking for material that would connect with who these people are,” he explained.
Frame[d] references physical structures created by sculptor Antony Gormley, which in one particularly striking sequence not only contain the movement on stage but are manipulated by the dancers to create different forms, different blocks and pathways, establishing an ever-changing pattern of relationships.
Cherkaoui said, “In our lives we create frames for others to express themselves. So with these metal structures the dancers have to understand they are forming frames for others to enter.”
These frames were especially adapted for NYDC from those originally created by Gormley for Cherkaoui’s Babel, one of the pieces that provide the material for this programme. The others are TeZukA, Puz/zle and Loin. All very different, but according to the choreographer all with a common thread, “the idea of contact or connection,” which he felt was particularly applicable to young people.
The 2015 crop graduate from NYDC on 26th July, at the same time the future members of the 2015-16 company are selected. The outgoing group return to their schools with new experience and enhanced prospects for a future in dance.
NYDC 2015 dancer Jahmarley Bachelor sums up his experience thus: “My acceptance into NYDC gave me motivation to go all the way with dance.”
And another member of the 2015 intake, Louisa Sutherland, said, “We have learnt to move in different ways and to think about the reason behind doing each movement. This is something I will take with me in the future.”
The new group will work with Guest Artistic Director and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Michael Keegan-Dolan, the Founder and Artistic Director of Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre. A critically acclaimed and internationally renowned dance-maker, Keegan-Dolan will mentor the new NYDC group for a year and create a piece especially for them.
His work, his methods and his aesthetics will be vastly different from those of his predecessors; but one thing is certain: the 30 dancers soon to come under his wing will tread the boards of Sadler’s Wells in 2016 with as much aplomb and self-belief as the ones now graduating from NYDC.
|What||National Youth Dance Company: Frame[d], Sadler's Wells|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
04 Sep 15 – 05 Sep 15, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Website||click here to book via the Sadler's Wells website|