Preview: Sadler’s Sampled, Sadler’s Wells, EC1

Political Mother @ Salder's Wells

Political Mother @ Salder's Wells - Credit: Archant

For those who have tentatively toyed with the delights of dance, the Sadler’s Wells Sampled festival could prove the start of a love affair.

The idea is to put on a showcase of contemporary dance sliced into a bite-sized package so newcomers, who might be put off by a full length performance, can experience a bit of everything the theatre has to offer.

“People who come here are very loyal,” says Alistair Spalding, artistic director. “Once they come they tend to stay and end up seeing five or six shows a year.”

The challenge, however, is trying to attract a new crowd. While fans of dance are all too keen to flock to the famous venue, the director finds others can let preconceptions stand between them.

“A lot of people don’t really know about the art form and consequently don’t know what they’re going to get,“ he said. “They’ll think of ballet for instance and we’ll actually be putting on hip-hop and salsa.”

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In addition to the productions, talks, films and classes will ensure there is always something round every corner of the building.

“We’re going to try to make the atmosphere like a festival,” Mr Spalding said. “We’re taking out all the seats that are usually in the stalls, so we can have five hundred people standing like at gigs.

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“These tickets are only £8, so it won’t be any more expensive than going to the cinema.”

Over the course of two weeks, the theatre will showcase its own talent as well as those from around the world. Highlights include Hofesh Shechter’s groundbreaking Political Mother and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Drumming.

“Many elements of the festival are what we do usually, so a lot of regulars will have seen Hofesh Shechter’s work already. His show is more like a rock concert, he’s composed all the music and it’s very loud and urban.

“Then you have Drumming, with Steve Reich writing the score.

“Again it’s very suited to the environment. It’s trying to change people’s expectations, make things a bit more inclusive.”

Around the shows, there will also be guest speakers and festival-goers can even try out some of the dances themselves.

n Sampled from June 22 to July 7 at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Rosebery Avenue, EC1. Visit

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