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Sadler’s Wells put faith in emerging talent as part of Young Associates programme

PUBLISHED: 16:47 03 October 2018

Anthony Matsena is one of four choreographers taken on as part of the Young Associates programme. Image: Stephen Wright

Anthony Matsena is one of four choreographers taken on as part of the Young Associates programme. Image: Stephen Wright

Stephen Wright

A new initiative from the Rosebery Avenue theatre has put four young choreographers at the centre of the action.

Members of the Young Associates in rehearsals. Image: Stephen WrightMembers of the Young Associates in rehearsals. Image: Stephen Wright

Anthony Matsena has a cold and a sore throat, but that doesn’t disguise how excited he is for the week ahead.

The 24-year-old – born in Zimbabwe and raised in Swansea – is one of four emerging choreographers whose work will make up a Mixed Bill evening of dance at Sadler’s Wells on October 9 and 10.

These shows have been commissioned as part of the theatre’s Young Associates initiative, where each of the four choreographers is given the financial and creative support they need to take their first steps in to the profession.

2018 also marks the 20th year that Sadlers’ Wells has been based at their site on Rosebery Avenue, with next week’s shows set to run as part of the theatre’s 20 for 20 celebrations.

Next week's Mixed Bill will see the Young Associates showcase their work to an audience for the first time.  Image: Stephen WrightNext week's Mixed Bill will see the Young Associates showcase their work to an audience for the first time. Image: Stephen Wright

“It’s all a bit unreal,” says Anthony, who is part of the programme’s first intake alongside Wilhelmina Ojanen, Ruby Portus and Christopher Thomas.

“When I started out it was a dream to have my work staged at Sadler’s Wells. To be celebrated as a young maker and to put on a show as part of the theatre’s 20 for 20 celebrations – it is beyond an honour.

“It’s a dream to have a juggernaught like Sadler’s Wells support you. The Young Associates programme is one of a kind, they have given us financial and artistic support – you often find that it’s one or the other.

“I have a brilliant mentor in Russell Maliphant. The initiative has helped me fine-tune my work, to make it clear for both myself and the audience members – it is helping me to develop my own voice.”

The programme was launched in February with the goal of preparing burgeoning choreographers in aspects ‘from collaboration to contracts and costumes, and everything in between.’

Built for 18 to 24 year-olds, each of the Young Associates is given a tailored programme of support and the chance to present their work on stage as part of a two-year cycle.

Anthony was first nominated for the Young Associates last year while studying at the London Contemporary Dance School.

“I can recall the morning I got the email saying that I was part of it. It was my third year of training and I literally just ran out of the class, I was full of excitement and couldn’t believe it – I thought it was a joke!

“I can’t even explain how thrilled I was. I hadn’t even graduated but to know I had employment under such an institution was really unbelievable.”

Ahead of the shows at the venue’s Lilian Baylis Studio next week, it’s clear that Anthony is itching to get started.

“Now we’re a few days away from the show, the nerves are starting to transform in to excitement,” he adds.

“I am letting go of the pressure I have put on myself – I have done all the work and although I’m still nervous, I’m very much excited; especially as I know how brilliant the other work is going to be.

“Working alongside the others has been super inspiring – they are all brilliant in their own right and have their distinct artistic voices. We are all different from each other, we have a lot of group sessions and you get to share things that are working and others that you might need some assistance with.

“We are different but we’re also a cohort – a real family – and you get a real sense of support from that.”

Pieces on the night will cover a broad range of themes and topics, including the question of why hope matters in a world of uncertainty, a series of feminist vignettes set in a 1930s German cabaret club and a gothic fairy-tale depicting a dream-like narrative about a woman in the last few moments of her life.

Anthony’s work. meanwhile, will centre on the question: what does it mean to be free?

Young Associates: Mixed Bill is at Sadler’s Wells Lilian Baylis Studio on October 9 and 10. Click here for more information

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