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Press Release: Semperoper Ballet makes Sadler's Wells debut with Forsythe triple bill

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Semperoper Ballett / William Forsythe
All Forsythe
Sadler’s Wells, EC1R 4TN
Thursday 21 – Saturday 23 June
Performances: Thursday - Saturday at 7.30pm 

Tickets: £12, £16, £18, £24, £27
Ticket Office: 020 7863 8000 or www.sadlerswells.com


For the first time, Sadler’s Wells presents the internationally renowned Semperoper Ballett, performing three works by one of the world’s foremost choreographers, William Forsythe, in triple bill All Forsythe.


Semperoper Ballett; Enemy in the Figure; photo by Costin Radu


Known for its distinguished dance technique both classical and contemporary, Dresden-based Semperoper Ballett boasts a diverse repertoire encompassing works by Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Jiří Kylián and Frederick Ashton, with an upcoming premiere by Hofesh Shechter soon to expand its range further still. This triple bill by the visionary Forsythe complements the dancers’ technical expertise and physical prowess, upholding the company’s esteemed reputation as one of the few to present a full Forsythe evening. 


Opening the programme is the groundbreaking In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, a work that famously changed ballet forever with its deconstruction of classical ballet technique. Making its first appearance at the Paris Opera Ballet in 1987, the piece marries slick pointe work with sharp balances, accompanied by Thom Willems’ electrifying score.

By contrast, Neue Suite, created especially for the company, is set to music by Bach, Berio and Handel. The piece is made up of a series of pas de deux choreographed between 1987 and 1999, presenting captivating highlights of Forsythe’s repertoire.

Finally, lit by a single spotlight, 11 dancers cavort around a winding wooden wall in the expeditious Enemy in the Figure. Re-introducing the rhythmic music of Thom Willems, the piece acts as a testament to the strength and fearlessness of the company.


William Forsythe trained at the Joffrey Ballet School and danced with the company from 1971 to 1973, before moving to Stuttgart Ballet. After choreographing his first ballet, Urlicht, for Stuttgart Ballet in 1976, he became resident choreographer of the company. He directed the Ballett Frankfurt from 1984 until 2004, with credits including Impressing the Czar, Limb’s Theorem, and The Loss of Small Details. From 2005-2015, he directed The Forsythe Company.


Forsythe’s work has been performed by numerous international ballet companies, including the Mariinsky Ballet, The Royal Ballet and New York City Ballet. He is a recipient of the Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale (2010), Samuel H Scripps / American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Grand Prix de la SACD (2016), among various others. Forsythe is a Professor of Dance and Artistic Advisor for the Choreographic Institute at the University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.


In April 2018, Forsythe’s choreography featured in Sadler’s Wells Associate Company English National Ballet’s Voices of America, for which he created his first new ballet for a British Company in 20 years – the hip-hop inspired Playlist (Track 1, 2). Together with Forsythe’s Approximate Sonata 2016, alongside Jerome Robbins’ The Cage and Aszure Barton’s Fantastic Beasts, the performance received resounding acclaim.


Later in the year, Forsythe will return to Sadler’s Wells with A Quiet Evening of Dance, commissioned as part of the theatre’s 20th anniversary season.


“William Forsythe is one of the most sophisticated intelligences working in dance today” The Times



About Sadler’s Wells

Sadler's Wells is a world-leading creative organisation dedicated to dance in all its forms. With over three centuries of theatrical heritage and a year-round programme of performances and learning activities, it is the place where artists come together to create dance, and where people of all backgrounds come to experience it – to take part, learn, experiment and be inspired.

Audiences of over half a million come to its London theatres each year, with many more enjoying its touring productions at venues across the UK and around the world, and accessing its content through digital channels.

Sadler's Wells commissions, produces and presents more new dance work than any other theatre in the world, embracing the popular and the unknown. Since 2005, it has helped to bring over 160 new dance works to the stage, many of them involving its 16 Associate Artists, three Resident Companies and four Associate Companies – the most exciting talents working in dance today.

It also nurtures the next generation of talent through research and development, running the National Youth Dance Company and a range of programmes including Wild Card, New Wave Associates, Open Art Surgery and Summer University. Sadler's Wells' learning and engagement activities reach over 25,000 annually through programmes that take dance out into the community and invite communities into the theatre. Projects include community productions and the renowned Company of Elders, its resident over-60s performance group, while events range from pre and post-show talks with dance artists to classes, workshops and assisted performances.

Located in Islington, north London, the current building is the sixth to have stood on site since entrepreneur Richard Sadler first established the theatre in 1683. The venue has played an illustrious role in the history of theatre ever since, with The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and English National Opera having all started at Sadler's Wells.


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