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Natalia Osipova in rehearsal. Photo by Alastair Muir, Courtesy Sadler's Wells

You never quite know what's going to happen when Natalia Osipova steps onstage—you know you're in for something extraordinary, but the exact nature of what you'll get is a mystery until it's happening. It's only fitting, then, that we would learn of Force of Nature, a new documentary following a year of the ballet superstar's career, a day before its limited release in the UK.

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Johan Persson, via Sadler's Wells

By now, these formulas aren't anything new: Choreographers are increasingly recruiting pop stars to create scores. And Broadway producers have long followed the time-honored (not to mention moneymaking) tradition of building shows from an artist's hit catalog (see: the currently running Cher Show and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and the Broadway-bound Jagged Little Pill and Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough.)

But choreographer Kate Prince is putting a new twist on the dance-meets-pop-star story: pairing street dance with the iconic songs of Sting and The Police. The show, Message in a Bottle, is currently in development and slated to open at Sadler's Wells in February 2020.

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Xenos, Akram Khan's final full-length solo, is an ode to the soldiers of World War I. Photo by Nicol Vizioli, Courtesy Sadler's Wells

We might have gotten a little bit carried away with this year's "Season Preview"—but with the 2018–19 season packing so many buzzy shows, how could we not? Here are over two dozen tours, premieres and revivals that have us drooling.

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Christian Rizzo's Le syndrom ian won the ballet prize in 2016. Photo by Marc Coudrais, Courtesy FEDORA

What do Alexei Ratmansky and rising Israeli star Sharon Eyal have in common? Both have had creations partly funded by an innovative new organization: FEDORA, which was launched in 2014 as a tribute to composer Rolf Liebermann by French arts patron Jérôme-François Zieseniss to promote innovation and collaboration in ballet and opera across Europe.

Since then, this Paris-based funding organization has built a network of 80 members, most of them opera houses and companies, from 20 countries. Every year, it awards a Prize for Ballet (as well as a sister Prize for Opera) to an upcoming new production by one of these institutions, elected by a jury of professionals; the dance award, sponsored by Van Cleef & Arpels, is worth €100,000, or approximately $118,000. This year, it went to the William Forsythe–choreographed A Quiet Evening of Dance, which premieres at London's Sadler's Wells in October.

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Photo by Hugo Glendinning, Courtesy Sadler's Wells

Ten years is a long time for a dance production to run, but Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's Sutra, an athletic, meditative spectacle featuring 19 Shaolin monks and a malleable set of 21 wooden boxes (designed by Antony Gormley) is still striking a chord with audiences worldwide. To celebrate the milestone, Sutra is returning to Sadler's Wells, where it all began. March 26–28. sadlerswells.com.

Dancers Trending
Pina Bausch's The Rite of Spring. Photo by Oliver Look, Courtesy Brooklyn Academy of Music.

On the cusp of a new performance season, our calendars are chock full with shows we're dying to see. But it can be hard to know where to start with a season filled to bursting with promising premieres, tours and revivals. We've picked 12 shows that should definitely be on your radar.

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Dancers Trending
Brad Harris, courtesy Big Dance Theater

What is "dance theater"? Is it Pina Bausch's raw examinations of everyday life? Is it performance that mixes movement and text? Is it dance that tells a story? Dance Magazine talked with four choreographers who use elements of dance and theater—but whose work escapes easy categorization—about playing with narrative, integrating movement and words, and what "dance theater" means to them.

Annie-B Parson

Dance theater, to me personally, means that there's no hierarchy of materials you can use to make a piece. Movement is not more important; text and narrative aren't more important. I feel this complete free range as I try to express something, to use a whole variety of theatrical elements, like relationship, cause and effect, clothes, dance, singing, talking, found text, plays, literature—this cornucopia of theatrical possibilities.

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Magazine

English National Ballet and Sadler’s Wells partner together. 

 

ENB in rehearsal. Photo by Laurent Liotardo, Courtesy ENB.

Two of the biggest forces in British dance are teaming up. Leading performance center Sadler’s Wells has announced that English National Ballet, spearheaded by ballerina Tamara Rojo since 2012, will become its first associate ballet company this spring, performing two seasons each year. The idea was sparked, says Sadler’s Wells CEO and artistic director Alistair Spalding, by a conversation with Rojo. “We have the same beliefs in the art form, the same way of looking at it,” he says.

As part of the arrangement, Sadler’s Wells will co-produce new work and financially support ENB’s seasons at the venue. For ENB, the partnership is a boost to both finances and creative morale. Praising Sadler’s Wells’ “long tradition of presenting innovative repertoire,” Rojo said she hoped the move would “enable us to perform bold works, many new to English National Ballet.”

Beyond cultivating new dances, Sadler’s Wells will play host to mixed bills that have proved difficult for ENB to sustain at bigger venues and on tour. ENB’s first program in March will include works by William Forsythe, John Neumeier and Jirí Kylián. A revival of the company’s recent Lest We Forget program, which includes Sadler’s Wells associate artist Akram Khan and Russell Maliphant’s first works for the company, follows in the fall. Khan will return in 2016 to choreograph a new Giselle. But there will be no Nutcracker at Sadler’s Wells: ENB will continue to perform its repertoire of classics at other venues in London, including the Coliseum.

ENB may be Sadler’s Wells’ first associate ballet company, but the crossover of Rojo’s artistic vision fits in with the venue’s ethos. “The distinctions between genres are becoming grayer and grayer,” says Spalding. “The questions we ask are, Where is ballet now? Where is it going? How can we help it thrive?”

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