Sadler’s Wells and BBC Arts to stream an all-day digital festival: Dancing Nation

[box]UPDATE: As a result of the latest Sadler’s Wells and BBC Arts are adapting the format of digital festival Dancing Nation – originally scheduled to screen as fifteen live and pre-recorded performances on BBC iPlayer and Sadler’s Wells website on January 14, so that it is compliant with the new guidelines.

Dancing Nation will now be available to UK viewers via BBC iPlayer and to audiences worldwide via Sadler’s Wells website on Thursday 28 January, with all performances and interviews captured in advance and shared as three pre-recorded programmes.[/box]



On the day London found itself in Tier 3 and all theatres went dark once more, Sadler’s Wells and BBC Arts announced details of a New Year treat: a celebration of the UK’s dance talent in an all-day, digital, live and pre-recorded broadcast, Dancing Nation (trailer here).

The event can be watched on BBC iPlayer (UK only) and Sadler’s Wells’ website (worldwide) throughout the day on Thursday January 28, 2021.

It will feature a series of new works and old favourites from a diverse line up of the UK’ s emerging and top dance artists from ballet, contemporary and hip-hop, including Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, English National Ballet, Natalia Osipova, Boy Blue, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, Akram Khan, Rambert and more.

New Adventures in Spitfire by Matthew BournePhoto Roy Tan
New Adventures in Spitfire by Matthew Bourne
Photo Roy Tan

Dancing Nation will feature fifteen live or pre-recorded performances in spaces throughout Sadler’s Wells in an all-day take-over of the building. It’s stages, studios and foyer spaces will all be pressed into use.

The event will be streamed live in hour-long segments, at 10.30am, 1.30pm and 4.30pm GMT. Full programme details for each episode will be released in the new year.

Each episode will be hosted by BBC presenter Brenda Emmanus, who will introduce the performances and interview artists.

Lorenzo Trossello and Minju Kang of Northern Balletin States of Mind by Kenneth TindallPhoto Emma Kauldhar
Lorenzo Trossello and Minju Kang of Northern Ballet
in States of Mind by Kenneth Tindall
Photo Emma Kauldhar

After the initial broadcast, each programme will be available for 30 days on BBC iPlayer and the Sadler’s Wells website, followed by a 90-minute highlights broadcast that will be available for 12 months.

Featured works include Matthew Bourne’s seminal early piece Spitfire (1988) presented by dancers from his company New Adventures; Akram Khan and Royal Ballet principal Natalia Osipova, performing together for the very first time in a work inspired by Khan and Sylvie Guillem’s 2006 duet, Sacred Monsters; English National Ballet in Hollow by Stina Quagebeur; Candoco Dance Company in Face In by Yasmeen Godder; Birmingham Royal Ballet in Will Tuckett’s s recent new work Lazuli Sky, alongside an interview company artistic director, Carlos Acosta; Northern Irish choreographer Oona Doherty’s Hope Hunt and the Ascension into Lazarus; and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance’s Contagion, a work that allows reflection on the coronavirus crisis through the lens of a previous pandemic.

Birmingham Royal Ballet in Lazuli Sky by Will TuckettPhoto Johan Persson
Birmingham Royal Ballet in Lazuli Sky by Will Tuckett
Photo Johan Persson

New works and commissions include 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.

Hip-hop and pop-contemporary offerings include Boy Blue in an extract from their Olivier-nominated hit, Blak Whyte Gray; Rambert’s Rouge from choreographer Marion Motin; Far From the Norm, blending hip-hop and contemporary dance styles in an extract from their Olivier Award-winning BLKDOG; and Breakin’ Convention artistic director Jonzi D taking us off stage with Window Shopping, transforming Sadler’s Wells public spaces with a diverse meeting of popping, voguing, flamenco and ballet performance.

Rambert in Rouge by Marion MotinPhoto Johan Persson
Rambert in Rouge by Marion Motin
Photo Johan Persson

Theatres may be dark again, and for who knows how long, but Alistair Spalding, artistic director and CEO of Sadler’s Wells says, “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.”

Sadler’s Wells & BBC Arts present Dancing Nation
Thursday January 2021 at 10.30am, 1.30pm and 4.30pm
BBC iPlayer / Sadler’s Wells website
Free to view online
For more, visit