Sadler's Wells and BBC Arts kick off the new year with Dancing Nation, an exciting festival highlighting some of the best dance in Britain today.
Divided into three one-hour programmes, to be released on the BBC iPlayer as a box set 28 January, the festival brings together a huge variety of dance numbers from across the country, as well as interviews with participating dancers and choreographers, including the Cuban superstar dancer and now artistic director of Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) Carlos Acosta.
Here's a taster:
Part of BBC Arts' extensive Culture in Quarantine programme and presented by Brenda Emmanus, Dancing Nation runs the full gamut of dance forms thriving in the UK today. Among those taking part are the men of Matthew Bourne's New Adventures, performing in one the choreographer's early works, the seminal 1988 piece, Spitfire.
Shobana Jeyasingh's remarkable Contagion, created in 2018 to mark the centenary of the devastating Spanish Flu pandemic, has acquired new immediacy in view of the ravages currently caused by Covid-19; it is one of the most poignant offerings of this festival.
Equally relevant to our times is Matsena Productions Shades of Blue, which responds to the double impact of Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, which has acquired global reach over the past year.
Perhaps the biggest names among the illustrious roster of participants are Akram Khan and the Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova. They will dance together for the first time in a new work by Khan entitled Mud of Sorrow: Touch. Blending classical dance with Kathak, it's a re-imagining of Khan's collaboration with another great ballerina, Sylvie Guillem, in Sacred Monsters.
BRB reprise their stunning Lazuli Sky, choreographed by Will Tuckett during a brief respite between lockdowns and performed at Sadler's Wells in the autumn. A glorious homage to the nature we've so missed in the past year, it is well worth viewing again and again.
Leeds-based Northern Ballet presents a brand new work by Kenneth Tindall, States of Mind, this, too, a response to thoughts, situations and feelings experienced during recent months; and new pieces also come from HUMANHOOD, a relative young company set up four years ago by Birmingham and Catalan born artists Rudi Cole and Júlia Robert Parés, with the aim of developing a different kind of movement, inspired by research into physics and Eastern mysticism, among other influences. Their works, ORBIS and SPHERA explore different facets of people's relationship with the moon.
Altogether, 15 live or pre-recorded performances will feature, including hip hop stars Boy Blue, with an extract from their powerful, Olivier award nominated Blak Whyte Gray; Rambert, with Rouge, the first piece for the company by the French choreographer Marion Motin, best-known, perhaps for her pop work with Christine and the Queens and Dua Lipa; and English National Ballet, with Hollow, a duet by their home-grown choreographer Stina Quagebeur.
Dancing Nation is simultaneously a reminder of all we've been missing and an homage to the resilience of the arts, which have been so affected by the closure of theatres over the past year. It also represents a flash of hope that soon Sadler's Wells will reopen for business and welcome its loyal dance audiences back again.
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|What||Dancing Nation, Sadler's Wells and BBC Arts|
|Where||BBC iPlayer | MAP|
28 Jan 21 – 28 Feb 21, Three one hour shows released as a box set on 28 Jan and available for 30 days after