BBC Arts announces line-up for 2020 Dance Season

Crystal Pite & Jonathon Young / Kidd Pivot — Revisor. Photo by Michael Slobodian

BBC Arts today announces its 2020 Dance season, with live performances filmed at Sadler’s Wells and the Royal Opera House, specially commissioned films and in-depth explorations of dance and the country’s leading dance practitioners across BBC TV and online, throughout May and later in the year. 

From some of the most exciting female choreographers working today, through to full behind the scenes access with many of the best male dancers in the world; BBC Arts has curated a season of programmes with something for everyone. Aimed at those who love dance as well as those who don’t yet know they love dance, the season reflects the breadth of dance styles; from contemporary to classical, Latin to Irish.

The season features: 

  • Revisor, the new critically acclaimed dance theatre hybrid created by one of the most exciting choreographers working today, Crystal Pite, in collaboration with playwright Jonathon Young, following their award-winning production, Betroffenheit. 
  • Danceworks, a series of films produced in partnership with Sadler’s Wells. Featuring internationally acclaimed choreographers Sharon Eyal and María Pagés, pioneering dance company Ballet Black (who performed during Stormzy’s Glastonbury set) and a Latin dance showcase from Strictly Come Dancing stars Gorka Marquez and Karen Hauer
  • Yuli: The Carlos Acosta Story, the television premiere of the film based on Acosta’s 2007 UK bestseller autobiography, No Way Home. The film follows Carlos Acosta – nicknamed Yuli by his father – from growing up on the streets of his native Cuba, through his time at the country’s National Dance School, to performing at London’s prestigious Royal Ballet.
  • Men In Dance, an exclusive behind-the-scenes film celebrating the talent and artistry of today’s male dancers in The Royal Ballet.
  • Devil In The Feet, which tells the story of how Irish Dance evolved from a traditional folk dance to become a global phenomenon.
  • imagine…Kate Prince: Every Move She Makes (W/T) follows the ZooNation dance company founder as she embarks on her latest West End production Message In A Bottle, set to the music of Sting. Alan Yentob explores the wider impact of her work and politics on a younger generation of upcoming dancers.
  • BBC Introducing Arts: Dance, a collection of dance films made by first time and emerging film-makers.
Carlos Acosta
Carlos Acosta

Emma Cahusac, Commissioner for BBC Arts, says: “It’s an honour to be able to showcase such a brilliant range of talent from the world of dance.  Whether it be the global superstars of ballet or flamenco, ground-breaking new works from leading choreographers, or beloved traditional dance moves that we all enjoy today, I couldn’t be more excited about curating this year’s line-up for our audiences.”

Alistair Spalding, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells, says: “We are delighted to partner with the BBC and ClearStory on the second Danceworks series, bringing audiences closer to exceptional choreographers and dancers. The films offer a unique insight into their background, inspirations and artistry. We hope, that watching, them viewers will find it impossible not to be fascinated by these artists’ stories and to be inspired by their talent, skills and drive.”

Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet, says: ‘I’m passionate about opening up dance to new audiences. Working with the BBC on the Men in Dance documentary has provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate our extraordinary artists and provide an insight into the unique life of the male dancer, from student in training to star on the stage. Documentary maker Richard Macer has spent a great deal of time shadowing the Company to create a film that reveals the passion, determination, strength and artistry that define the male dancer today and make The Royal Ballet so very special.’

ON BBC ONE

Associate Artist Kate Prince - Message In A Bottle. Photo by Johan Persson.
Associate Artist Kate Prince – Message In A Bottle. Photo by Johan Persson.

IMAGINE…KATE PRINCE: EVERY MOVE SHE MAKES (W/T)

Choreographer. Director. Game-changer. Kate Prince is a remarkable British dance pioneer who’s renowned ‘ZooNation’ Dance Company has transformed the profile of hip hop and street dance right across the country. imagine… follows Prince as she embarks on her latest project ‘Message In A Bottle’, a dynamic new West End production set to the hit music of Sting, which opened at the Peacock in February 2020. Gathering together a truly extraordinary selection of dancers from across the world Prince observes, ‘I don’t even know what genre we’re creating right now!’  With exclusive behind the scenes access to the full creative process imagine… follows the journey of creating a complex new dance show from day one in the studio to opening night. Alan Yentob talks to Prince’s key collaborators and family, painting an engaging and surprising portrait of a fascinating creative force while exploring the wider impact of her work and politics on a younger generation of upcoming dancers.

imagine… Kate Prince: Every Move She Makes is a BBC Studios Production and is commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC One by Mark Bell. Alan Yentob is the Series Editor and Executive Producer is Tanya Hudson. The Producer/ Director is Luke McMahon. 

ON BBC TWO

YULI: THE CARLOS ACOSTA STORY (1 x 115)

Yuli: The Carlos Acosta Story is a film inspired by the life of Carlos Acosta, the first black Principal dancer of The Royal Ballet. Based on Acosta’s autobiography, No Way Home: a Cuban Dancer’s Story, the film shows him growing up in Cuba, becoming a dancer and moving to London. The film follows his relationship with his father, who gave him the nickname Yuli, and encouraged him to leave his country and forge a career on the international stage. Directed by Icíar Bollaín and written by Paul Laverty (I, Daniel Blake) and backed by BBC Films, Yuli: The Carlos Acosta Story won best screenplay at the San Sebastian International Film Festival and received five nominations for the Spanish ‘Goya’ awards including Best New Actor for Carlos Acosta, Best Cinematography and Best Adapted Screenplay. 

Yuli: The Carlos Acosta Story is a BBC Films production commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Two by Mark Bell. The Producers are Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan, Juan Gordonand and the Director is Icíar Bollaín. 

ON BBC FOUR

REVISOR (1 X 90)

A multi-camera performance capture of Revisor, the new and critically acclaimed dance-theatre hybrid created by choreographer Crystal Pite and playwright Jonathon Young, recorded during its run at Sadler’s Wells, London, in March 2020. Young and Pite revise an archetypal comic plot – The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol – to serve as the basis for choreography in a true hybrid of contemporary theatre and dance. In Revisor, ten incredible dancers embody the recorded dialogue of some of Canada’s finest actors, exploring conflict, comedy and corruption in the potent relationship between language and the body. Revisor reunites the creators of the international stage hit Betroffenheit (winner of the Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production 2017) with director Jeff Tudor, who won the Rose d’Or (Arts) and Golden Prague Awards 2018 for his capture of Betroffenheit for the BBC.

Revisor is a 3 minutes West production and is commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Emma Cahusac. Filmed and directed by Jeff Tudor. Adrienne Liron is the Executive Producer.

Crystal Pite & Jonathon Young / Kidd Pivot — Revisor. Photo by Michael Slobodian
Crystal Pite & Jonathon Young / Kidd Pivot — Revisor. Photo by Michael Slobodian

DEVIL IN THE FEET (1 x 90)

Across the world, Irish Dance has captivated people’s imaginations. Today, millions of people in over 60 countries are learning to dance in the Irish style; hundreds of millions have watched on TV and on stage. Now, Devil in the Feet, a sweeping, 4K, cinematic documentary tells the story of how Irish Dance evolved from a peasant dance to become a global phenomenon. Featuring stars of today, Jean Butler and Michael Flatley, and stars of the past from James Cagney, Gene Kelly, Master Juba and Charles Dickens, the film presents a powerful factual narrative with new stunning performances from today’s finest dancers and fascinating film archive.

Devil In The Feet is a Tyrone production and is commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Emma Cahusac. The Executive Producer is Patricia Carroll and the Director is Ruán Magan. 

MEN IN DANCE (1 X 60) 

Given full access to The Royal Ballet in Covent Garden, the award-winning film maker Richard Macer discovers a golden generation of young dancing talent. In attempting to gain the greatest insight to their world, Macer focuses on those at different stages of the dancer’s life cycle: he films with graduate year students of The Royal Ballet School when they first hear about contracts with the Company; a Principal whom many critics believe to be the finest dancer of his generation; and a Principal who is coming back from a career-threatening injury. Macer talks to younger members in the Company taking on soloist and principal roles who are lighting up the stage and taking social media by storm, and meets a longstanding star of the ballet facing the twilight of his dazzling career. The film explores the quest for a level of brilliance that is always just beyond what is humanly possible, as well as the changing nature of male dance roles as they continue to become centre stage. What emerges is a story about masculinity and the pursuit of perfection. 

Men In Dance is an Oxford Film And Television production and is commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Emma Cahusac. The Executive Producer is Nick Kent and the Director is Richard Macer 

DANCEWORKS (4 x 30)

Following an award-winning first series in 2018, ClearStory and Sadler’s Wells collaborate on a second series of Danceworks. These artist-led, observational films take viewers behind the scenes in the world of contemporary and classical dance today, telling the human stories behind the creative process of choreography, rehearsal and performance in some of the world’s most beloved dance genres. This second series immerses us in the stories of multi award-winning choreographers and performers at the very top of their game. Four films follow Sharon Eyal, María Pagés, Ballet Black and BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing stars Gorka Marquez and Karen Hauer as they go on tour and create bold new works in radically contrasting styles. Their exquisite choreography is showcased in extended close up sequences within each film.

Danceworks is a Sadler’s Wells/ClearStory production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Emma Cahusac. Filmed and directed by Andy Dunn, edited by Lawrence Huck. Russell Barnes is Executive Producer for ClearStory and Alistair Spalding and Bia Oliveira are the Executive Producers for Sadler’s Wells.

SHARON EYAL (1 X 30)

Israeli choreographer Sharon Eyal is an extraordinary force of nature, her new work lighting up the dance world.  In this film, we have access to her creative process during a pulsating summer residency amid the urban cool of Bold Tendencies, an arts venue atop a brutalist multi-storey car park in Peckham. With her world-renowned company L-E-V, Eyal’s work throws normal rules to the wind, fusing movement, light, fashion, techno music and technology, with choreography inspired by the clubbing scene. In sequences filmed in Israel and London, the film explores how Sharon and her long-standing collaborator Gai Behar create and premiere a new work specially conceived for the Peckham backdrop, which will push boundaries and bodies to the limit.

Sharon Eyal's Half Life. Photo by Axel Lauer
Sharon Eyal’s Half Life. Photo by Axel Lauer

MARĺA PAGÉS (1 X 30)

This film transports us to Spain and the mesmerising work of flamenco star, María Pagés. María’s passion for flamenco is infectious. A child prodigy, she came of age in the golden era of professional flamenco and is now handing her inspiration and experience to the next generation as she promotes modern flamenco at her new dance centre in a working-class suburb of Madrid.  The film explores the tension in María’s work between flamenco’s traditional roots in her birthplace Seville and her signature dramatic, theatrical shows on the big stage, embodied in a haunting new work called Una Oda al Tiempo (An Ode to Time). The film culminates in a searing homecoming performance of her opus back in flamenco’s heartland, Seville.

BALLET BLACK (1 X 30)

Ballet Black is a professional company aiming to bring ballet to a more culturally diverse audience by promoting dancers of black and Asian descent. The company made headlines in 2019 when it performed during Stormzy’s bravura Glastonbury set. This film explores the work of Artistic Director Cassa Pancho as she trains and encourages aspiring young dancers.  Interwoven with her story, we follow the creative process of dancer Mthuthuzeli November as he develops a dynamic new choreography about the purpose of life, called The Waiting Game, which has its world premiere at the Barbican in March 2020.

FIREDANCE (1 X 30)

Supercharged by BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing (about to start its 17th series), ballroom dancing and, in particular, the exuberant Latin styles of Salsa, Argentine Tango and Paso Doble are taking off in dance classes around Britain. We follow two of Strictly’s most popular professional stars, Gorka Marquez and Karen Hauer, as they put together a spectacular Latin showcase, Firedance, for their fans.  The sell-out show will tour regional theatres in the UK in March 2020. The show is all about creating dance entertainment and, tracking the rehearsal process and tour, the film explores how Karen and Gorka hone their presence and express emotion through every movement of their fiery routine.

BBC INTRODUCING ARTS: DANCE ( 1 X 60)

A collection of dance films made by first time and emerging film-makers. Dance is used to tell engaging and relevant stories from across the UK on topics as diverse as gaming, mental health, and society today.

BBC Introducing Arts: Dance is a BBC Arts Production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Stephen James-Yeoman. Allan Campbell is the Series Producer.

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