Last week, myself and other Birmingham theatre bloggers headed down to Sadlers Wells in London to have a taste of Dance Sampled before it arrives at the Birmingham Hippodrome next month.
Dance Sampled has been a regular production at Sadlers Wells since 2007. Bringing a vast diversity of dance to their stage, each year the selection gets stronger as companies and artists from around the globe bring their talent to the UK.
As part of the Hippodrome’s aim to bring diverse and dynamic theatre that is accessible to all, Dance Sampled is presented at a reduced cost, attracting a wider audience and allowing them to experience the breadth of dance around the globe.
We travelled down to London, to experience the scope of dance that Sadlers Wells has to offer. As part of the Dance Sampled program, they were providing specified workshops in all styles of dance, and exciting live performances in the auditorium before curtain up.
Sadlers Wells itself is a remarkable building and the UK’s hub of dance. Renowned as one of the world’s leading dance venues, it is both a stage for visiting companies and a producing house. The staging itself is impressive, as there is tiered seating, with a standing area at the front of the stage which provides a more casual concert-like feel – bringing a superb atmosphere to the performance.
With numerous rehearsal spaces in the theatre, dancers from all over, at all age and ability, are welcomed to take part in workshops. We proceeded to take part in three dance workshops, and got to grips with the different styles of dance from the basics.
We started with the ballet class, which was taught by English National Ballet. Founded in 1950, ENB are one of the major leading ballet companies in the UK, alongside Birmingham Royal Ballet.
All stood at the barre, we took our positions and started working on ballet technique through range of exercises. We were introduced to the different feet positions, and began working on technique, including core strength, flexibility and posture.
We then moved on to our next class that was tango with Julia Hiriart Urruty & Claudio González who star in the Dance Sampled performance. Bursting with flavour, their moves were slick, sensual and striking – shame I can’t say the same about my tango skills. We started with the very basics, which was walking around the room, and my partner and myself appeared to struggle profusely with just that. However, after learning to walk without bouncing excessively up and down and figuring out which way was right and left, we managed to learn a small routine by the end of the session.
Despite our legs feeling like jelly, we did give the hip-hop class a go, however we were a little out of our depth. The class was taught by Iron Skulls Co, who mix break dancing techniques with contemporary dance to create theatrically urban movement. In the workshop they aimed to provide tools to allow the dancer to mix and apply their style, to the dancer’s style, by embracing freedom.
It was a lot of experimental improvisation from the ground up – quite literally, as we began the class using the floor to roll around and find movements. This was then lifted up to standing level, and circles were created to give each individual dancer a few minutes to try out some of their improvisation. Although we mainly observed this class, it was incredibly interesting to see these impressive dancers use their bodies to create such creative shapes and movement, by finding a rhythm in the beat and evolving their moves around that.
The whole experience of taking part in different workshops allowed us to broaden our understanding and learn more about the different styles of dance, and how they are created.
The show itself open at the Birmingham Hippodrome on the 3rd of March, it features live dance from Company Wayne McGregor, Birmingham Royal Ballet, BBC Young Dancer finalist (and Birmingham’s own) Vidya Patel, Argentine world tango champions German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi, French hip hop company Pockemon Crew and the beautiful Faun from Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.
With an earlier start at 6:30pm, the foyer will be lit up with a variety of pop-up dance and activities for everyone to discover and enjoy before curtain up.
Ideal for students, Birmingham Hippodrome are offering tickets at just £5 – an unbelievable offer for young people to watch world-class dancers.