This Free Online Festival Showcases the Crème de la Crème of the U.K. Dance Scene

February 2, 2021

As most theaters across the world remain closed, London’s contemporary dance hub Sadler’s Wells and cultural broadcaster BBC Arts have come together to produce a day-long digital dance festival on January 28.

Dancing Nation will showcase 15 new and beloved works by world-class, U.K.-based companies and choreographers over three hour-long, pre-recorded segments. Highlights will include Akram Khan and Natalia Osipova performing together for the first time in Mud of Sorrow: Touch, a new work inspired by Khan’s 2006 duet with Sylvie Guillem; Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures’ seminal 1988 work Spitfire; and Shobana Jeyasingh’s timely restaging of Contagion, which explores the spread of the virus that caused the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918.

Hip-hop festival Breakin’ Convention will take the show off the main stage and into the theater’s public spaces, transforming them with a unique dialogue between popping, voguing and flamenco dance styles. Additional rep comes from Candoco Dance Company, Oona Doherty, English National Ballet, Boy Blue, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Far From The Norm and Rambert, to name a few.

In addition to performances, Dancing’s Nation‘s programming will also feature exclusive interviews with participating artists, including a conversation with legendary ballet dancer and Birmingham Royal Ballet artistic director Carlos Acosta.

Part of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative, which seeks to support the creative sector during the pandemic, Dancing Nation will be streamed on BBC iPlayer for U.K. viewers, and on Sadler’s Wells website for international audiences, both options free of charge. Originally scheduled to be broadcast live on January 14, the program was pre-recorded and pushed back two weeks due to the recent UK lockdown. The performances will be available to view for 30 days after the festival.

“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,” said Sadler’s Wells’ artistic director Alistair Spalding in a press statement. “The event is a… celebration of their talent to inspire us to look forward to 2021 with renewed optimism.”