Car park to become stables as horses take to the stage at Sadler’s Wells

THE car park at Sadler’s Wells Theatre will be turned into stables when horses trot onto its stage next year.

And the stage will be covered with a specially treated rubber floor made from old tyres, to protect it from the pounding of their hooves – and anything else that might hit the surface.

French horse-dance master Bartabas will be riding four of his highly trained steeds in The Centaur and the Animal, which comes to the famous theatre, in Rosebery Avenue, Finsbury, in March next year.

Alistair Spalding, artistic director at Sadler’s Wells, said: “We’re making miniature stables, not for them to stay all the time, but so they can get out and get fresh air.


“We have to get a licence from Islington Council but that’s usually no problem, we’ve had lots of animals here – dogs, ducks, sheep and even a peacock. We’re used to it. We last had a horse here about eight years ago.”

The animals will be brought by train through the Channel Tunnel. Bartabas will have one on stage at a time, while the others rest in the car park in Arlington Way behind the theatre.

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Mr Spalding added: “The horses are choreographed. The best way of describing it is dressage. Bartabas has an incredible relationship with them, they do everything he asks. He creates very dramatic images with them.”

It is the first time the renowned performer has appeared in Britain, having previously taken larger productions by his company Theatre Equestre Zingaro – with 20 of their horses – to New York and Tokyo.

Bartabas, who lives with his horses in a caravan next to their stables, said: “There are times now when I speak to horses more than I speak to humans. My relationship with the horses is both professional and emotional.”

I work with them in the same way that I work with human beings. The horses are my companions with whom I share sad, joyful, easy and difficult times.”

The show is a collaboration with Ko Murobushi, a leading practitioner of Japanese dance form Butoh, who was co-choregrapher.

The theatre’s upcoming programme also includes a production by Canadian choreographer Dave St-Pierre featuring naked male dancers who hug audience members, which Mr Spalding said will be “hilarious” - but “not for the faint-hearted”.