The Latest: London's Calling

February 27, 2014

Sadler’s Wells will build a new black box theater for contemporary dance.


London has been edging up on dance capital status for some time. One of its leading performance centers, Sadler’s Wells, has announced a 10-year plan that includes an $8 million dance commissioning series and a new theater. This initiative will expand the city’s dance offerings and Sadler’s Wells commitment to established and emerging artists. “We’ve already invested a lot in new work, but we can do more,” says chief executive and artistic director Alistair Spalding. “There is a demand in London, but also internationally. Festivals and venues are looking to us to see what we’ll do next.”


For Spalding, who took over a debt-ridden Sadler’s Wells in 2004, the plan will consolidate Sadler’s Wells role as a presenter and developer. Recently Crystal Pite was named its 16th associate artist, joining dance makers like Sylvie Guillem, Akram Khan and Wayne McGregor in its commissioning series. And because Sadler’s Wells hosts a variety of dance, from ballet to flamenco, Spalding wants to boost collaborations between styles and art forms in coming years.


The new 500-seat black box performance space, the venue’s fourth, will open by the 2018–2019 season. The center’s current performance spaces—the 1,500-seat main auditorium, the more commercial 1,000-seat Peacock Theatre and the 180-seat Lilian Baylis Studio—leaves a gap in midscale contemporary programming. Currently, the smaller space is used for more experimental work, while the main auditorium is visited by larger companies. “Choreographers like William Forsythe or Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker make their work for this type of larger space,” says Spalding, who adds that options for the new theater are currently on the table. “I realized there was something missing: a space to explore new territories.”