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Sadler’s Wells chief: ‘There’s no problem with UK dance talent’

Alistair Spalding. Photo: Hugo Glendinning Alistair Spalding. Photo: Hugo Glendinning
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Sadler’s Wells artistic director and chief executive Alistair Spalding has insisted there is “no problem with talent in this country”, following claims by leading contemporary choreographers that dance training in the UK is inadequate.

He was responding to criticisms made earlier this year by choreographers including Akram Khan and Hofesh Shechter, who launched an attack on British contemporary dance training when they said that international students are “fitter, stronger, and more versatile” than their British counterparts.

At the launch of the north London venue’s new season, Spalding said: “I think it was important to raise those issues. Clearly those choreographers have an issue with the dancers that we [the UK] have been putting out. I don’t think it’s the whole story, some companies are very happy with what the conservatoires are producing.”

He added that bringing the professional dance and dance training worlds closer together could improve the situation.

“There’s no problem with talent in this country… I think it’s more about matching up what the needs of the industry are with training,” he added.

Spalding also described a drop in dance education in schools as “frustrating”, calling on the government to give more support to cultural education by putting the arts alongside science, technology, engineering and maths in priority.

“I believe more should be done to make sure high-quality cultural learning is delivered to every child, and urge the government to recognise the fundamental role of arts subjects in education,” he said.

Spalding was speaking at the launch of Sadler’s Wells’ 2016 season, which will see Royal Ballet star Natalia Osipova move into contemporary dance with a specially commissioned programme at the venue.

Osipova will dance alongside former Royal Ballet dancer Sergei Polunin as part of the premiere production, which will be made up of three pieces choreographed for her by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant and Arthur Pita.

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