Magnus Westwell is one of the next generation’s dancers

Sadler’s Wells Young Associates present their Mixed Bill world premiere in the Lilian Baylis Studio on Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 November 2021, introducing audiences to the next generation of choreographers. The Mixed Bill is the first live performance of work by the second cohort of Young Associates; Olive HardyVidya PatelJohn-William Watson, and Magnus Westwell. This evening of dance showcases the distinct and diverse creative voices of these young artists as they embark on their careers as choreographers.  
 
Olive Hardy’s work is inspired by the notion of catharsis and is a piece for three dancers which plunges audiences into a shifting landscape where the physical body is always in flux. Hardy’s work is inspired by the churning of rocks in the ocean, cloud formations, the eye of the storm and the metamorphosis of insects. Hardy is collaborating with sound artist Samir Kennedy to use sound as a fourth ‘body’ in the piece. The score will explore how absence and presence of sound can shift how audiences witness movement on stage.  
 
Vidya Patel’s Kathak work, When Life Gives You Melons is an ensemble piece featuring four female dancers with a wide range of experience in different dance practices including ballet, contemporary, bharatnatyam and kathak-nandita shankardass. The work explores the issue of female infanticide within South Asian culture, and how discrimination against women continues to evolve in different forms. Patel’s work hopes to encourage further conversations around women’s rights, and allow new, underrepresented voices to have a part in the conversation. Patel collaborates with Sarathy Korwar for this piece, who is a US-born, Indian-raised and London-based musician. He works predominantly in jazz and Indian classical music, with elements of hip hop, electronic music, and more. 

John William Watson is inspired by surrealist movement and the medium of film for his work, This is not a penguin. This dance theatre duet is set in a remote research outpost in Antarctica and is a surrealist exploration of the life of a penguin told from the perspective of an arctic researcher. With knitwear design by Joshua Cartmell and sound design by Ethan Alexander, Watson’s work explores experiences many have faced during the pandemic, including isolation, morality and uncertainty about the future when faced with global catastrophe.   

Magnus Westwell’s cinematic dance work immerses the audience in music which is produced by Westwell himself. The piece is for three performers including BBC Young Dancer 2015, Connor Scott. This dream-like work is set somewhere between an ethereal forest and an epic rave, with the movement and music inspired by Westwell’s experience of living, of being queer and of being neurodivergent. The work explores themes of queerness, gender expression, emotional expression, romance, communal revelry and transcendence. Westwell looks to find a place for the dancers to exist in between extremes. The original score will be produced by Westwell, performed by musicians Lucinda ChuaCJ Calderwood and Travis Yu. With fashion and costume design by Olybiyi Thomas, the creative team will collaborate to create a unique world for the dancers which mirrors the energy of the music.  The lighting designer for all four works will be Ryan Stafford.  

YASS met Magnus Westwell some days before the performance.

Can you introduce yourself?

I’m Magnus Westwell (They/He) and I’m a Scottish artist working with movement and music.

How does it feel to be part of Sadler’s Wells Young Associates and to represent the next generation of choreographers?

I feel so grateful to be supported by Sadler’s Wells in these initial stages of my career. The Young Associates programme provides an incredible platform where I can showcase my work with guidance and support. I’m excited to be able to express my voice and share it with the Sadler’s Wells audience over the next couple of years.

Can you describe your work in the Mixed Bill?

For this work, I have composed and produced the soundtrack alongside choreographing the movement. The work explores a lot of different things, but mainly feels like an outlet for me to express and communicate through my work. It’s been a while since I created something this personal.

For the creation of the soundtrack, I collaborated with Lucinda Chua, CJ Calderwood, and That Travis who each contributed to their instrumental parts within the work. I also collaborated with Olubiyi Thomas, who created the costumes for the piece.

Where do you find your inspiration in your work?

I’m inspired by memories, nostalgia, clubbing, love, euphoria, nature… I’m also really interested in the ineffable emotions and bodily sensations felt when listening to music or watching dance, and I try to explore these intense emotions through my work.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Eartheater, William Basinski, Giant Swan, Blawan

Do you feel there is enough LGBTQ+ representation in your field?

I think there’s definitely room for more LGBTQ+ representation – especially from marginalised voices within the community.

What advice would you give to those who want to be like you?

I think I’d just encourage you to be unapologetically yourself. The right people and opportunities will come to you, but it all starts from you and your work, and how unique to you this is. 

Director of Learning and Engagement, Joce Giles, said: “It is fantastic that our current Young Associates are now able to present their work in front of live audiences for the first time. They have shown courage, commitment and creativity to continue developing their work as dance makers over the last two years and we are all excited to see their short works performed in the Lilian Baylis Studio.” 
 
Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells, Alistair Spalding, said: “Sadler’s Wells is committed to supporting the artists of the future, and we are delighted to be presenting such a range of work by these four fantastic Young Associates.”  
 
Supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Noël Coward Foundation 

Ticket Office: 020 7863 8000 or www.sadlerswells.com  
 

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