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Press Release: Alexander Whitley’s Overflow to receive London premiere at Sadler’s Wells


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Alexander Whitley’s Overflow to receive London premiere at Sadler’s Wells 

Choreographer Alexander Whitley returns to Sadler’s Wells Theatre with new work Overflow on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 May 2021. Created a year before the Covid-19 pandemic, the work saw its London premiere delayed twice in 2020 due to national lockdown measures.  
  
Covid-19 has powerfully amplified the increasing use and reliance on digital technologies across the globe. More than ever, our lives are influenced by unseen algorithms and surveillance technologies, with filter bubbles, feedback loops and fake news having a profound impact on individual behaviour and political events, radically transforming how we experience and act in the worldOverflow, asks what it means to be human in this relentless shadow of big data. As our desires, fantasies and vulnerabilities are powerfully influenced by social platforms, it explores what lurks beneath our compulsions to check, share and like.    

Overflow sees Sadler’s Wells New Wave Associate Whitley build on his reputation for creating socially engaged and technologically groundbreaking dance experiences for stage, installation and VR with a diverse range of world class collaborators. This new work includes a dazzling kinetic light sculpture by Children of the Light programmed by creative technologist Luca Biada, which moves restlessly and ‘cloudlike’ over the dancers’ heads, seeming to track their movements across the stage. Costumes and 3D printed masks inspired by facial recognition technology created by award-winning designer Ana Rajcevic, light design by Guy Hoare and an exhilarating original score by electronic music producer Rival Consoles which includes samples from digital platforms and devices, like the sound of data flowing through a smartphone as it scrolls Instagram.   

Alexander Whitley, Artistic Director of Alexander Whitley Dance Company said: We are delighted to be finally bringing Overflow to a live audience Sadler’s WellsThe work was created in 2019, well before the Covid pandemic struck, but its themes seem even more pertinent to the world we now live in. National lockdowns have resulted in a dramatic and irreversible paradigm shift, with the use of digital technology by citizens, organisations and businesses soaring globally.

At the same time, we have been witnessing moral panic and extremist politics surge amongst an overabundance of information and disinformation circulating through these platforms, with a growing awareness of the impacts they are having on our thoughts, behaviour and actions in the world. Poised between an overexcited human emotionality and the all-seeing eye of big data, Overflow probes this newly defined human condition, holding a space of tension between hope and tragedy and leaving us to consider where our future lies as our relationship with technology becomes ever more enmeshed. 

Whitley’s bold interdisciplinary approach and fascination with the potential of digital technologies to redefine the parameters of dance and choreography found new expression during lockdown. Unable to rehearse or perform he launched the pioneering Digital Body project, an open source and constantly evolving platform which uses motion capture and games engine technology to explore how dance can exist in purely digital form. This exploration is being further extended in Chaotic Body,atriptych of films which takes its inspiration from Chaos Theory. 

Past work includes 8 Minutesand accompanying two part VR piece Celestial Motion in partnership with Guardian VR, created with scientists from STFC RAL Space and BAFTA Award-winning visual artist Tal Rosner, transporting audiences on a breath-taking journey to the sun. The work has been recently been extended into Celestial Motion IIin collaboration with HTC Vive Arts.  Strange Strangerwhich draws on the notion of our 'data shadow’ with original music by experimental electronic musician Beatrice Dillon and London Sketchbook, a collaboration with one of the UK underground’s most respected artists, Lioness, celebrating an unexpected fusion of classical dance and urban grime music.  

Whitley has created work for several of the UK's leading companies including the Royal Ballet, Rambert, Balletboyz, Candoco, Scottish Royal Ballet and Gandini Juggling, and is a New Wave Associate at Sadler's Wells Theatre. He is also a founding member of New Movement Collective and a tutor at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. Alexander Whitley Dance Company was founded in 2014 in direct response to the new, experimental possibilities opened up for choreography by digital technologies. 

Overflow is commissioned by Sadler’s Wells, and supported by Arts Council England, Cockayne – Grants for the Arts, the London Community Foundation, MA Scène Nationale-Pays de Montbéliard, PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund for Organisations, Bonnie Bird New Choreography Fund and DanceEast, Gerald Fox and The Edwin Fox Foundation, Charles Glanville and individual supporters. 


NOTES TO EDITORS: 

Artistic Team 
Artistic Director & Choreographer: Alexander Whitley 
Music: Rival Consoles (Ryan Lee West) 
Light Sculpture: Children of the Light 
Creative Technologist: Luca Biada (Fenyce) 
Lighting Design: Guy Hoare 
Costume Design: Ana Rajcevic 
Dramaturg: Sasha Milavic Davies 
Dancers: Josh Attwood, Hannah Ekholm, Tia Hockey, David Ledger, Jack Thomson & Yu-Hsien Wu 

About Alexander Whitley  
Alexander Whitley is a London based choreographer working at the cutting edge of British contemporary dance where he has developed a reputation for a bold interdisciplinary approach to dance making, producing technologically innovative and thought-provoking stage productions as well as exploring the creative possibilities being opened up by new digital platforms.  His intricate choreography draws on his background in classical and contemporary dance and is noted for its strong musicality and striking visual design. 

Alexander has created work for several of the UK’s leading companies including The Royal Ballet, Rambert, Balletboyz, Candoco, Gandini Juggling and Birmingham Royal Ballet. Alexander is a founding member of New Movement Collective and a tutor on the Design for Performance and Interaction Masters programme at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. He is also a New Wave Associate at Sadler’s Wells Theatre and a former Choreographic Affiliate of Rambert and The Royal Ballet. 

Founding Alexander Whitley Dance Company in 2014, his works, created with digital pioneers such as Marshmallow Laser Feast and Memo Akten, have toured the UK and internationally including Sadler’s Wells commissions: Overflow, Strange Stranger, 8 Minutes, Pattern Recognition and The Grit in the Oyster; and Royal Ballet commissions: The Measures Taken and Noumena. Working in partnership with The Guardian’s VR studio he created the virtual reality experience Celestial Motion which has recently been extended into Celestial Motion II in collaboration with HTC Vive Arts.   

Last year during the Covid-19 lockdown Alexander launched the Digital Body project, using motion capture technology to remotely collaborate with digital artists and composers to create short digital dance films and an AR filter for Instagram. It was extended in a triptych of films called Chaotic Body, the first of which Strange Attractor premiered in October at Roma Europa Festival. In October 2020, Alexander premiered a new stage production, The Butterfly Effect, for Hessisches Staatsballett, in Darmstadt, Germany. He is currently working on Future Rites, a VR experience based on The Rite of Spring which is supported by Creative XR, Sadler’s Wells and BFI London Film Festival.   

Twitter: @alexwhitley 
Facebook: alexanderwhitleydance 
Instagram: whitleydance 
www.alexanderwhitley.com 

About Sadler’s Wells 
Sadler's Wells is a world-leading dance organisation, committed to producing, commissioning and presenting new works and to bringing the best domestic and international dance to UK and worldwide audiences. Under the Artistic Directorship of Alistair Spalding, the theatre’s acclaimed year-round programme spans dance of every kind, from contemporary to flamenco, Bollywood to ballet, salsa to street dance and tango to tap. 
 
Audiences of over half a million come to Sadler’s Wells’ three 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 its Digital Stage. Sadler's Wells commissions, produces and presents more dance than any other theatre in the world, embracing the popular and the unknown. Since 2005, it has helped to bring over 180 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. 
 
Sadler’s Wells’ own productions have toured to some of the most prestigious theatres and festivals around the world, such as the Sydney Opera House, the Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival in New York, and the National Centre for Performing Arts in Beijing. 
 
Sadler’s Wells also nurtures the next generation of talent through a range of artist development initiatives including its New Wave Associates programmes, its Wild Card initiative and the National Youth Dance Company. A further 30,000 individuals take part in its learning and engagement programmes each year. 
 
During the Covid-19 crisis, Sadler’s Wells has continued to connect with global audiences through its Digital Stage, an online programme of performances and workshops for people to watch at home. Since 27 March 2020, the programme has been enjoyed by audiences all over the world, generating over 5 million video views globally. 
 
On 17 May 2021, live dance returns to Sadler’s Wells, with performances for socially distanced audiences. 
 
Sadler’s Wells is an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation and currently receives approximately 10% of its revenue from Arts Council England. www.sadlerswells.com 

Sadler’s Wells social media handles: 
Facebook: @SadlersWells 
Twitter: @Sadlers_Wells 
Instagram: @sadlers_wells 
YouTube: Sadler’s Wells Theatre 

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