Here's a little piece of trivia for you; Sadler's Wells Theatre has continuously occupied the same site in Islington since 1683, making it second only to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane as the oldest entertainment venue in London. It first came into being when the entrepreneurial Richard Sadler discovered natural wells in the garden of his wooden 'musick house' and realised their marketing potential; the area had been famous during the Middle Ages for its healing waters and was soon a fashionable spa destination for seventeenth-century socialites. However, even the most architecturally clueless (c'est moi) will realise that the current incarnation is not particularly aged; in fact it opened in 1998, rebuilt thanks to fundraising spearheaded by a National Lottery grant. The story of the journey can be found on their website here: http://www.sadlerswells.com/
Sadler's Wells describes itself as 'uniquely dedicated to bringing the very best international and UK dance to London audiences' and they do this by not only staging but also commissioning productions - nearly seventy over the past five years alone. And we're not just talking tutus and tiaras; the performance I went to see (a triple bill by the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet) felt much less formal and more immediate than most people's idea of traditional ballet and the Peacock Theatre, Sadler's Wells' Holborn venue, is currently showing ZooNation's Some Like it Hip Hop.
This range of dance, from ballet to hip hop and tap to flamenco, is central to the Sadler's Wells ethos; 'We believe dance is the art form of the moment. No other form has the potential to reach so many people, crossing cultural boundaries and appealing to diverse audiences.' Like visual art there is no language barrier and anyone who has cut through Trocadero Underground from Piccadilly Circus will know that teenagers from all cultures who wouldn't be caught dead in a theatre or gallery will focus for hours on getting a new dance move right.
I am absolutely no expert on dance and went with a completely open mind but I was pleasantly surprised by how accessible it was and by the connection between audience and dancers. Whilst some pieces were quite intense others were unexpectedly funny, making the audience laugh out loud. I was made to think, and to feel, and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time; you can't ask for too much more than that. Oh, except that the theatre even has its own bus stop, so you're delivered right to the door. That's service.
Yours, wondering how they can possibly bend all that way and thinking I really should take up yoga again,