Sadler’s Wells Global Gala: Responding to Challenges with Creativity

I feel like I’m starting all of my blog posts the same way in the past few weeks: this is an unbelievably difficult and challenging time for dancers, dance companies, dance venues, the dance industry & indeed the dance world. I won’t detail all of the ways in which the Covid pandemic has rocked the dance world in 2020, because I’m sure that, like me, you’ve been watching with horror, concern, and hope in equal measure.

Theatres have been in trouble. Here in the UK, they were closed to audiences entirely for many long months, finally reopening to socially distanced audiences in October, then being closed again just DAYS later. 2020 has, for many venues, become not about how to deliver engaging programmes in such challenging circumstances, but actually fighting for survival, with heartbreaking job losses just one consequence. We’re all crying out to #SaveTheArts, but probably feeling lost on how to actually help.

Sadler’s Wells is no exception to the above problems, and as the theatre that commissions and presents more new dance work than any other, its doors being closed is a huge strike to the heart of dance in this country and internationally, too. In order to help reopen to full audiences as soon as safely possible, Sadler’s Wells held an online Global Gala on Saturday 5th December.

Premiering on their YouTube channel for free, the gala featured an incredibly unique and creative programme. As well as a world premiere from Natalia Osipova & Jason Kittelberger, there was an excerpt from Message In A Bottle (the last dance performance I watched before the pandemic closed the theatres), Hofesh Shechter taught us how to make tahini, Jonzi D put together a dance film featuring performers from all over the world, and we heard from the likes of Anthony Gormley, Carlos Acosta, Sylvie Guillem & Fiona Shaw.

This gala really summarises the spirit of the dance world right now- we are all in very unusual situations, not somewhere we ever could have pictured ourselves a year ago, and we face a challenge so monumental it’s almost overwhelming. Yet, we keep dancing in every circumstance, we continue to create, and this situation has inspired- and required- a whole new level of creative thinking. The world is turning to art more than ever, and appreciating the power of movement and the value of human connection like never before. Sadler’s Wells did an excellent job at showcasing how they bring these things into people’s lives through dance so well. It was an incredibly enjoyable programme, and a wonderful opportunity for not only large donors but dance and art lovers like you and I to make some contribution to the recovery of the theatre and therefore the industry.

Natalia Osipova performing in AVE MARIA, Choreographed by Yuka Oishi, at Sadler’s Wells in 2018
Photograph by Johan Persson

Of course, you don’t have to donate to watch, and if you didn’t catch the premiere, it will be available on the Sadler’s Wells YouTube channel until January. If you do wish to make a contribution to help Sadler’s Wells fully reopen, you can donate online here, or you can text 70500 with: GLOBALGALA 5 to donate £5; GLOBALGALA 10 to donate £10; and GLOBALGALA 20 to donate £20.

Whilst it’s been amazing to see people coming together, posting on social media with the hashtag #SaveTheArts, it can feel a little empty when we’re so limited in actions we can actually take to help support the industry and world we love. Sadler’s Wells has given us a wonderfully unique programme for a very unique time, as well as the chance to be a part of the change and take action on supporting dance and the arts by helping the theatre to reopen to audiences once more.

Tell me in the comments what your favourite part of the programme was! (I’m torn between Natalia Osipova & Jason Kittelberger’s gorgeous duet, and Hofesh Shechter’s obviously uncontainable passion for tahini!)

Until next time, let’s all keep dancing & supporting the arts,

Jessica x

Leave a Reply