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Sadler’s Wells Young Associates and National Youth Dance Company, new cohorts!

February 9, 2023

A black and white composite photograph of Sadler's Wells Young Associates 2023/24
Meet the next generation of dance makers, as we announce the new dance artists joining our headline development programmes, Sadler’s Wells Young Associates and National Youth Dance Company (NYDC)

Young Associates 2023/24

The Young Associates programme, launched in 2018, supports Sadler’s Wells mission to nurture the next generation of talent. Guiding early career choreographers, aged between 18 and 26, to deepen their understanding of their own artistic practice, whilst gaining valuable insight into dance production. These artists will receive a tailored programme of professional development and support over two years, including the opportunity to present their work as part of Sadler’s Wells artistic programme.

Introducing the 2023/24 Sadler’s Wells Young Associates…

Tough Boys Dance Collective (TBDC)

Tough Boys Dance Collective
Tough Boys Dance Collective © Jack Thomson

A queer led dance theatre collective who create multidisciplinary works. Composed of co-founders Sula Castle, Roseann Dendy and Daze Hingorani, the collective was established in 2021 during their training at Trinity Laban.

Hingorani was born and raised in London, spending their youth immersed in theatre and literature. Castle and Dendy grew up in Scotland’s central belt, each bring their nuanced perspectives influenced by Scottish culture in relation to Catholicism, folklore and the working-class experience. Pulling from phenomenological research, TBDC’s work explores ideas of community and its intersections with gender, sexuality, religion and class.

Maiya Leeke

Maiya Leeke 
Maiya Leeke © Jack Thomson

A London based choreographer, performer, and teacher whose work reflects her background as a jazz saxophonist and a contemporary dancer. Leeke is an alumnus of NYDC’s ninth cohort and has an MA from Northern School of Contemporary Dance where she danced with Candoco Dance Company. Leeke was a finalist in BBC Young Dancer 2022. Her artistic practice continues to be influenced by her research with Hawk Dance Theatre, Mimbre, and Alleyne Dance. Her choreography is rooted in exploring the physical language of hope and freedom of her voice.

BLUE MAKWANA

BLUE MAKWANA 
BLUE MAKWANA © Jack Thomson

A London based choreographer and performer whose work ranges from focusing on a specific stimulus, to being abstract, with appreciation of movement expression and tone. MAKWANA is an alumnus of NYDC’s fourth cohort. Having trained in contemporary dance, ballet, jazz, commercial and musical theatre, MAKWANA aims to utilise her versatile skill set and incorporate elements of fusion in her work.

Often using the skull and hair as a focal point in her personal work, she aims to show appreciation and acknowledgement of a range in hairstyle choices and experiences. Her choreographic goal is to focus on the dancers she works with, exhibiting their strength in continuously evolving and entertaining work.

Elisabeth Mulenga

Elisabeth Mulenga 
Elisabeth Mulenga © Jack Thomson

A London based dance artist, Mulenga was born in Birmingham and is of German and Zambian heritage. Her choreography comes from a practice of sensitivity and awareness, aiming to highlight a range of lived emotional experiences. Her choreographic choices are also influenced by her spirituality and cultural identities.

Mulenga is an alumnus of NYDC’s eighth cohort and trained at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. Mulenga has performed in works by Thick & Tight, Jessica Nupen, Magnus Westwell, Kennedy Junior Muntanga, Ivan Michael Blackstock, Gianna Gi and Russell Maliphant. In April 2022, she competed in the Grand Final of BBC Young Dancer 2022, winning the Choreographic Innovation Award for her solo Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?.

NYDC, 10th Anniversary Cohort

NYDC, England’s flagship youth dance organisation, aims to create and perform innovative and influential dance, bringing together some of the brightest dance talent from across England to work with Sadler’s Wells’ internationally renowned Associate Artists and visiting companies. 

During the dancers’ time with NYDC, they are offered a unique insight into the dance profession, living and working closely together as a company, alongside NYDC staff and the artistic team. The year-long experience within the company provides members with the necessary skills and techniques to find career opportunities and raise aspirations, self-esteem and confidence. 

NYDC alumni have gone on to perform in leading dance companies including Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Phoenix Dance Theatre, PunchDrunk and Cullberg Ballet. Many return to the Sadler’s Wells stages, recently as Jack Frost in Birmingham Rep’s The Snowman and in Jasmin Vardimon’s ALiCE. Previous NYDC Guest Artistic Director Russell Maliphant brings VORTEX in May, in which two alumni will be performing.

NYDC alumnus Evie Heart in Jasmin Vardimon’s ALiCE
NYDC alumnus Evie Heart in Jasmin Vardimon’s ALiCE. © Tristam Kenton  

The 10th anniversary cohort were selected from 22 workshops held across the country. Made up of dancers aged 16-24 from 18 towns, cities and villages across England, the company welcomes back six returning dancers from last year’s programme. The new cohort joins Guest Artistic Director and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist, Wayne McGregor CBE to work on a new piece which premieres at The Lowry, Manchester on Saturday 15 April, before touring.

The 36 dancers of National Youth Dance Company’s New Cohort for 2022/23 are…

Matthew Atkinson (Lanchester), Milly Bajpai (Brighton), Krish Bhakerd (Bristol), Jayda Dawkins (London), Samuel Defty (Durham), Gabriel Dunn (London), Alyssa Eve (Brighton), Freya Hattam (Newcastle upon Tyne), Corlee Haverty (Coventry), Alex Johnston (London), Ali Jones (Impington), Lucas Jones (Brighton), Jewels Kemp (Lake District), Charly Knights (Leamington Spa), Nic Lee (Manchester), Meg Morgan (Bristol), Phoebe Mufushwa (Winchester), Kitty Newton (Haslemere), Blaise Noon (London), Ace Papworth (Hertfordshire), Beth Rogers (Manchester), Aoibh Ryan (Manchester), Lila Sefi (Falmouth), Venus Shury (London), Emma Staples (Brighton), Judd Tucker (Nottingham), Lydia Uwanogho (London), Perry Wade (London), James Cale (Nottingham), Aimee Farrell (Brighton), Jocelyn Johnson (Derbyshire), Josie Linscer (Brighton), Renée Miller-Reid (London), Adhya Shastry (Reading) & Maddy Westhead (Penryn).

Wayne McGregor CBE working with NYDC dancers
Wayne McGregor CBE working with NYDC dancers at a recent residency. © Gigi Giannella  

2023 marks a milestone in Sadler’s Wells history of nurturing and supporting young dancers and dance makers across the country. We are delighted to announce the incredible young dance makers who will join Sadler’s Wells as Young Associates for 2023/24. Tough Boys Dance Collective, Maiya Leeke, BLUE MAKWANA and Elisabeth Mulenga are fantastic young, emerging artists, all pushing their practice in interesting directions and we’re delighted to be working with them over the next two years.

Also, National Youth Dance Company celebrates its 10th anniversary year with the announcement of its new cohort and the premiere and national tour of a new work by Wayne McGregor, created on the company’s new cohort of diverse and talented dancers. The Company will also be delivering activities that enable thousands of young people in England to engage with dance and the work of NYDC. It is vital we continue to give young artists the opportunities to create and perform and I can’t wait to see the work of the Young Associates and NYDC on stage over this coming year.
Joce Giles, Director of Learning & Engagement

To the new Young Associates and NYDC dancers…welcome to the Sadler’s Wells family!