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Dance Umbrella 2024 announcements

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14 March 2024





In 2018 Abby Zbikowski was nominated by Stephen Petronio as a ‘Choreographer of the Future’ for Dance Umbrella’s Four by Four commission initiative, which marked the festival’s 40th anniversary. The resulting work, Radioactive Practice, was originally due to be performed at Dance Umbrella in 2020. Following delays caused by the global pandemic, a specially filmed version of Abby Zbikowski‘s Radioactive Practice was premiered at Dance Umbrella Festival 2022. It now has its European premiere at Sadler’s Wells as part of Dance Umbrella Festival 2024.


Dance Umbrella Artistic Director and Chief Executive Freddie Opoku-Addaie said: ‘Astonishing individual physicality meets collective perseverance in this remarkable show. Radioactive Practice by Abby Z and the New Utility is a cheerleader for our bodies’ disparate histories and a masterclass in showcasing the plurality of movement languages that exist in contemporary dance composition - it makes visceral the common ground in our existences. I cannot wait for London’s global audiences to see this work in our most bespoke and intimate setting at Sadler’s Wells to date.’


Hurtling onto the stage with explosive physicality, six performers challenge their physical and mental limits in a genre-bending new work named one of New York Times’ ‘Best Dance Performances of 2022.’


Drawing influences from street dance, synchronised swimming, post-modern dance, tap, football, martial arts and contemporary African forms; Radioactive Practice from award-winning American choreographer Abby Zbikowski and crew, shatters movement expectations and explores our instincts for survival.


With audiences seated on multiple sides, this powerful piece incorporates the work of Senegalese dance artist Momar Ndiaye as dramaturg to interrogate the complexities of contemporary living.

Abby Zbikowski and her company Abby Z and the New Utility create contemporary dance works that pay homage to the effort of living. Zbikowski’s rigorous training in African and Afro-diasporic forms, playing sports and performing manual labour informs her craft.


Radioactive Practice is presented by Dance Umbrella and Sadler’s Wells. The full DU2024 programme announcement will be in June.



European Premiere

Abby Zbikowski and the New Utility

Radioactive Practice

Friday 18 October (Press Night) & Saturday 19 October, 7.30pm Sadler’s Wells

BSL Interpreted Post Show Talk – Friday 18th October Approx. 60 minutes, no interval



Choreographer/Director: Abby Zbikowski
Performers/Collaborators: Indya Childs, Fiona Lundie, Mya McClellan, Jennifer Meckley, Benjamin Roach, jinsei sato
Rehearsal Directors: Fiona Lundie, Jennifer Meckley
Dramaturg: Momar Ndiaye
Lighting Designer: Jon Harper
Touring Technical Manager: Sarah Chapin
Original Music: Matthew Peyton Dixon

Warning: There are flashing lights for about 40 seconds in the last 15 minutes of the work.




Abby Z and the New Utility

Choreographer Abby Zbikowski created Abby Z and the New Utility in 2012 with dancers Fiona Lundie and Jennifer Meckley to experiment with the potential and choreographic possibility of the body being pushed beyond perceived limits, creating a new movement lexicon that triangulates dancing/moving bodies across multiple cultural value systems simultaneously. In 2016, Abby expanded the company to nine performer/collaborators for her first evening-length commission. “abandoned playground” premiered to a sold-out run at the Abrons Arts Center in New York in April 2017, leading to Zbikowski being honoured with the Juried Bessie Award, and was awarded the inaugural Caroline Hearst Artist in Residence at Princeton University, along with commissions from national and international organisations. Abby Z and the New Utility have been presented at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the Boston ICA, 92nd St Y, Movement Research at Danspace Project, Gibney Dance Center, Bard College, New York Live Arts, and the Fusebox Festival in Austin, Texas, among others. In 2021 the company was granted residency support at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio to rebuild work following a year long pandemic shutdown. Currently, they are working out of Columbus and New York City with collaborators locally, nationally, and internationally.

Abby Zbikowski

Abby Zbikowski (she/her) is a choreographer creating contemporary dance works that pay homage to the effort of living, tactics of survival, and the aesthetics produced as a result, utilising the physical aspects and psyche-emotional experience of her rigorous training in African and Afro-diasporic forms, playing sports, and performing manual labour. She founded Abby Z and the New Utility in 2012 and received the 2017 Juried Bessie Award In 2018 she received a “Choreographer of the Future” commission from Dance Umbrella and in 2020 a United States Artists Fellowship. She is a Caroline Hearst Choreographer-In-Residence at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, and artist-in-residence at New York Live Arts. Abby has had past residencies at the Bates Dance Festival, American Dance Festival, the STREB Lab for Action Mechanics, and the Wexner Center for the Arts. She is currently an Associate Professor of Dance at The Ohio State University, and on faculty at the American Dance Festival. She has taught at the Academy of Culture, Latvia; at Festival Un Pas Vers L’Avant, Ivory Coast; and studied at Germaine Acogny’s L’École de Sables, Senegal. Zbikowski has created commissioned work for the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, as well as universities across the USA.




About Dance Umbrella

Dance Umbrella is a London festival 45 years in the making and moving with the times. Every year our festival ignites London and online with the next generation of trailblazing artists. Since 1978, we have been an international home for dance across a global city, presenting more than 1000 artists from 45 countries to over one million people. We have brought outstanding dance to more than 145 venues throughout London and online; from the high-profile stages of Sadler’s Wells, Southbank Centre and Barbican to local arts centres – and taking in the more unexpected locations of canal boats, ice rinks and car park rooftops in between.


Since 2020, we have also given online audiences the chance to experience the festival through a curated programme including dance films and artist encounters. Dance Umbrella is also a commissioner of new work, co-producing with partners based in the UK and abroad, to invest in the next wave of international choreographic talent. Alongside this, we create year-round creative learning initiatives for all ages and nurture the development of arts professionals.


Appointed in 2021, Dance Umbrella’s new Artistic Director/CEO Freddie Opoku-Addaie's vision for the festival builds on its 45-year track record of commissioning and producing excellent work. This new chapter introduces a programme that puts emerging and diverse talent at its heart, reflecting the global identity of our London home.


Dance Umbrella Festival 2024 will take place 6-31 October, across London and online.Watch this space for more spectacle shows announced in the coming months before the full festival LAUNCH in June.




Dance Umbrella 4 x 4 Commissions


In 2018 all three of Dance Umbrella’s Artistic Directors – Val Bourne CBE, Betsy Gregory and Emma Gladstone – invited an established artist from their time at the helm to nominate a ‘choreographer of the future’ as part of a new commissioning project, Four by Four, to celebrate Dance Umbrella’s 40th anniversary. Four by Four is a transformational intervention for these young artists as they emerge as dance makers and create a piece of repertoire which, after premiering in London, is then available for touring worldwide.


To change and to diversify audiences for dance in the future, Four by Four disrupts the top-down approach to curation, introducing more creation and risk into our programme. It gives four artists, previously unknown to DU, a platform at one of the world’s leading dance festivals. Their fresh perspectives will help us continue to attract new and younger attendees for dance while providing bold work for established audiences.


The artists selected for Four by Four:

Mythili Prakash – nominated by Akram Khan
Georgia Vardarou – nominated by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker 

Jon Maya Sein – nominated by Rocío Molina
Abby Zbikowski – nominated by Stephen Petronio


Thanks to your generous funding and support, we presented two new works at the 2019 Dance Umbrella festival from our first two Four by Four artists: Here and Now by Mythili Prakash, which premiered at Fairfield Halls and Why Should It Be More Desirable ... ? by Georgia Vardarou at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells.


A specially filmed version of Abby Zbikowski‘s Radioactive Practice was premiered at Dance Umbrella Festival 2022.


About Sadler’s Wells 
Sadler's Wells is a world-leading dance organisation. We strive to make and share dance that inspires us all. Our acclaimed year-round programme spans dance of every kind, from contemporary to flamenco, Bollywood to ballet, salsa to street dance and tango to tap. 

We commission, produce and present more dance than any other organisation in the world. Since 2005, we have helped to bring more than 200 new dance works to the stage, embracing both the popular and the unknown. Our acclaimed productions tour the world. Since 2005 we’ve produced 64 new full-length works and performed to audiences of more than two million, touring to 51 countries. 


Each year, over half a million people visit our three London theatres - Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Lilian Baylis Studio and Peacock Theatre. Millions more attend our touring productions nationally and internationally or explore our digital platforms, including Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage.


In 2024 we’re opening a fourth London venue in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Sadler’s Wells East will house a 550-seat mid-scale theatre, as well as facilities for the new Rose Choreographic School and the hip hop theatre training centre, Academy Breakin’ Convention.


Sadler’s Wells is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. 


Stay up to date with everything Sadler’s Wells on social media

Facebook: @SadlersWells 

Twitter: @Sadlers_Wells

Instagram: @sadlers_wells

YouTube: Sadler’s Wells Theatre 


Radioactive Practice Funder Credits


The creation of Radioactive Practice was supported in part by a commission from New York Live Arts’ Live Feed Residency program with additional support from the Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council with special thanks to Council Member Corey Johnson, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, the Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, and the Shubert Foundation.

Radioactive Practice is a National Performance Network/Visual Artist Network (NPN/VAN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by New York Live Arts, Dance Place, American Dance Festival, Wexner Center for the Performing Arts and NPN/VAN. The Creation & Development Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). For more information: www.npnweb.org.


Radioactive Practice is commissioned by ADF with support from the Doris Duke/SHS Foundations Award for New Works. Additional commissioning funds provided by the Caroline Hearst Choreographer-In-Residence Program at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, Dance Umbrella’s Four by Four program, United States Artists Fellowship, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and the Wexner Center for the Arts.

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