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Isle Of Dogs: How Ballet Nights is set to draw top dancers to the Island

Lanterns Studio Theatre set to host artists from The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and Northern Ballet

The Royal Ballet’s Steven McRae will perform – image Mich Rose

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Following a pilot last year, Ballet Nights is set to explode into east London with a trio of programmes featuring dancers from the likes of The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet and even Britain’s Got Talent.

“The Lanterns Studio Theatre on the Isle Of Dogs is a very intimate and exciting environment,” said Jamiel Devernay-Laurence, founder and creative director of the platform.

Ballet Nights presents classical ballet and contemporary dance up close and without compromise, featuring some of the best performers in the world, in what I’m calling ‘theatrical widescreen’.

“We have a very large, 289sq m stage, with front row seats where audiences’ toes are touching the performance surface.

“There are no bad seats in the house and it brings the artists to eye level – it’s all about that connection.

“Having this space means we can present these big dance stars as you would see them on stages across the world.”

Ballet Nights will also feature rising star Musa Motha

Following his own dance career with Scottish Ballet, Jamiel has turned his talents and experience to creating new paths of development for artists and new models for programming and staging performances. 

With investment secured, the three Ballet Nights programmes in 2023 will all be performed for two nights on September 29-30, October 27-28 and November 24-35, respectively.

Each will be compered by Jamiel and feature 10 performances – five either side of an interval, with all six shows starting at 7.30pm. 

“Rather than presenting one production, this enables us to bring together world ballet stars alongside brand new emerging talents – a taster platform that’s never really been around for dance before,” said Jamiel.

“I’ve been asked how we can include so many different and diverse performers in each of the programmes?

“The answer is that this is led by artists, it’s for them, by them and celebrating them – that’s the key element.

“We’re not here to have Ballet Nights in capital letters – the artists are the most important thing.

“We’re more like a TV channel – putting the performers at the centre and giving audiences the opportunity to see their favourite artists and be introduced to new ones.

“The compère provides an introduction or reintroduction to each artist and that gives them a voice.”

Jamiel Devernay-Laurence will compere the event

The first programme alone features Steven McRae, Melissa Hamilton and Ryoichi Hirano of The Royal Ballet, rising contemporary dance star Jordan James Bridge and former Royal Opera House concertmaster and international violinist Vasko Vasilev as well as award-winning performer Constance Devernay-Laurence.

“When you want the best performers, you start with the best companies in the world and many are having a push towards professional development,” said Jamiel.

“The directors of these companies understand that this is a great opportunity for choreographers and dancers to have a chance to go out and experiment.

“Steven McRae, for example, who is a principal at The Royal Ballet is not doing what he’d do at the Royal Opera House, he’s presenting a tap number with music from Vasko.

“It’s a real opportunity for artists to blow off steam and to present themselves to audiences in different ways – to take risks and be celebrated. 

Constance Devernay-Laurence is also on the bill – image Sian Trenberth

“On stage, at the major venues, there’s quite a distance between performers and the audience. Here it’s like when a big comedian goes and tries out new material at a smaller, intimate stand-up club.

“Constance, who is also my wife, has left Scottish Ballet to pursue a career on screen, so this is a chance for her to appear on stage as an independent principal ballerina – Ballet Nights is a vital platform for artists like this in the heart of the Canary Wharf area.”

Future programmes will feature the likes of Katja Khaniukova, Aitor Arreita Coca and Ivana Bueno of London City Island-based English National Ballet (November) and Musa Motha of Rambert Dance Company (October). 

The latter, originally from South Africa, had his left leg amputated at the hip when he was 11 due to bone cancer, but forged a career as a dancer – appearing in Peaky Blinders: The Redemption Of Thomas Shelby on the West End stage. 

He then found wider fame on Britain’s Got Talent before going on to win the Emerging Artist category at the National Dance Awards earlier this year. 

At Ballet Nights, he will present Depth Of Healing, a piece he has choreographed himself.

Tickets for Ballet Nights at Lanterns Studio Theatre on the Isle Of Dogs start at £65.

Follow this link for full listings, more information and bookings

Ivana Bueno of the English National Ballet will be performing

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Canary Wharf: How Barry’s is set to offer free classes for the Wharf Wellness festival

Fitness brand will be offering indoor and outdoor sessions in the Red Room and Canada Square

Barry’s instructor Zoe Rogers – @zoehrogers on Insta – image Matt Grayson

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Wharf Wellness is set to arrive across the estate with free classes, taster sessions, talks and discounts over four days.

Taking place from Wednesday, September 27, to Saturday, September 30, 2023, the festival will feature a multitude of Canary Wharf-based brands including Third Space, Feels Like June, Mallow, Nuffield Health, Bobbi Brown, Randox Health, Love Open Water and recently launched padel tennis club Padium. 

Ahead of the event, however, we’ve decided to focus on Barry’s, which will be running three taster sessions – one outside on the sand of the pop-up beach volleyball courts in Canada Square Park and the other two in its Red Room studio on the lower level of Crossrail Place.

Zoe Rogers is the instructor tasked with leading the outdoor session. Originally from Essex, she discovered the Red Room having moved to London to go to drama school.

“I’d been involved in fitness one way or another since my teens,” she said.

“I actually started out selling gym memberships through cold calling – it was absolutely horrendous.

“I heard about Barry’s on the grapevine and this thing they do called ‘Hell Week’ – seven classes in seven days.

“Living in London, I couldn’t afford to go very often as a student, but I could afford to do Hell Week every single time it was on. 

“So, I’d be at drama school, save up my pennies and go and do those seven sessions.

“I remember my first class so vividly – it was with a trainer called Alex Castro and it was phenomenal.”

Zoe will lead a session for Barry’s in Canada Square for Wharf Wellness – image Matt Grayson

Zoe ended up taking a job front-of-house at Barry’s in Canary Wharf, while continuing to pursue a career as an actor.

She then decided to train as an instructor – a role she’s now been doing for two years.

Splitting her time mostly between Soho and the Wharf, she’s also taught classes on the main stage at Pacha in Ibiza.

From noon on September 28, Zoe will be in command of a 50-minute class for 60 on the sand in Canada Square Park (with mats to protect participants).

“We’ll have big speakers – participants will hear me out loud and the music will be pumping,” she said.

“We’ll have long resistance bands and mini bands to work the glutes and the legs and I’ll be running a total body workout – we’ll hit absolutely everything.

“The great thing about Barry’s is it gives you a fantastic structured workout that you know is going to do the job every time. 

“The product is flawless and with the tunes, the atmosphere is fantastic, it’s almost like being in a club when you’re in the Red Room.

“Then there’s the community, which is very important to people who have just moved to London or to the area.

“That develops organically and it’s something I’m personally really grateful for, as I’ve made some great friends.

“No-one can really define what they mean when people talk about ‘The Barry’s Feeling’ but there’s this buzz that just makes you want to come back for more.

Zoe became an instructor after working front-of-house at Barry’s – image Matt Grayson

“It’s magical, everyone feels it at the end of a class and that sense of community is beautiful.

“You don’t have to think – we do the work and you can just rock up and put in the time.”

Fellow Canary Wharf instructor Craig Waters will be running the Barry’s session at 9am in the venue’s red-lit studio for Wharf Wellness.

Originally from Nebraska, he found his way to Barry’s through Yoga, Pilates and cycling classes before training with the brand. 

He said: “It will be the classic Barry’s experience.

“Every day we have a different focus, so you can get all your muscle groups taken care of over the course of a week.

“For Wharf Wellness, I’ll be teaching a chest, back and 

abs-focused class.

“It’s an upper body workout using different types of rows, dumbbells, both heavy and lighter weights, as well as resistance bands to cycle through those muscle groups.

“Then, as a way to give your arms a bit of a break, we have core-focused abdominal exercises.

“Classes are typically spent half doing interval-based runs on the treadmills and half doing exercises on the studio floor.

“That means you get the best of both – it really is the best workout in the world. 

“You can start off either on the floor or on the treadmill and then go back and forth.

“While running, your instructor will give you options for your speed with different patterns on incline and velocity.

Barry’s instructor Craig Waters – @craigmwaters on Insta – image Matt Grayson

“These can be tailored to an individual’s needs or preferences, which means everybody can participate.

“For people who are new, it’s about getting used to the instructions as there’s lots of activity in the room.

“It’s a nightclub vibe, the lights go low and the music goes loud, with every instructor allowed to select the tracks they like to bring their personality through.

“You might have someone who plays techno and drum and bass or, like me, who prefers fun pop remixes so people can lose themselves.

“I sing along in almost every class – it’s about enjoying the moment.”

Craig said that while Barry’s workouts were tough, people at any level of fitness could benefit from them.

He said: “The workouts are hard, so I always tell people doing it for the first time to pace themselves and go at a rate that works for them – to enjoy it as much as they can. 

“People feed off each other’s energy, which is why group fitness, for me, is the best way to train.

“Personally, I get more out of a session when someone has put it together – it’s also a great way to hang out and meet people too.

Craig will lead a session in Barry’s Red Room studio at Crossrail Place – image Matt Grayson

“My main thing is that I don’t ever want someone to come out of a class feeling defeated. We celebrate whatever happened.

“It’s always the case that what you did was amazing.”

A third Barry’s class will take place on the Saturday, with times set to be confirmed this week.

Throughout Wharf Wellness, brands such as Atis, Pure, Farmer J, Urban Greens, Le Chalet Cryo, Rituals and Space NK will be offering a series of special offers and discounts. 

  • Full details of all these, other events and how to book classes will be available exclusively on the Canary Wharf App from Wednesday, September 6, 2023.

Find out more about Wharf Wellness here

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Stratford: How Stratford Padel Club puts community at the heart of its operation

Strong demand at the club sees its owners planning to expand with new courts in the pipeline

Stratford Padel Club is located just off Stratford High Street

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The idea for Stratford Padel Club came when the venue Javier Fernandez Aguirre and Anka Mandelson had been playing at closed down.

With its owners unable to find a suitable site to continue, Javier decided to have a go himself, enlisting the help of Anka, initially as an investor.

“Luckily we found a location on Stratford High Street and, having initially tried to get plans for a sports centre going, he decided to see if he could open a padel club,” said Anka, who now acts as co-owner and runs the business with Javier.

“He raised the money pretty quickly but we took a massive risk because we didn’t know if we would get planning permission and that took two years.

“But we got approval and, in a record amount of time, we got the building in September and had to open in December.

“We launched on December 8 with three courts and a tournament for 30 players – we had no idea who would come, but it was an adventure.

“We were capital positive by the following April and reached capacity very quickly.

“The day we filled our peak time slots, we made £100 in profit and we thought the business would work.

Stratford Padel Club co-owner Anka Mandelson

“It meant incredible hours of working for us, but the risk paid off and, just before lockdown, we’d decided to add more courts because we couldn’t cope with the demand.”

Covid was a tough time for the club.

With no government support, Javier and Anka put money back into the business to keep it going and players started a funding campaign that ended up raising £25,000 to help keep it running.

Having expanded to five courts, and very much recovered from the ravages of the pandemic, the club is once again battling demand and has applied to build a further four courts to accommodate all the people who want to play.

Anka puts its success down to the approach she and Javier have always taken.

“Our belief is that our club has to be a community,” she said.

“We treat everybody as though this is their second home.

“We know every player’s name and we have built a team here that shares that approach.

“Whether people are regular players, coming for an event or just trying out the sport, they are part of this community.

“We didn’t embark on this venture for the money – it’s a reflection of our values, our personalities and what we believe in.

“We want to make sure that anybody can come and play at this club – that checkout workers can rub shoulders with bankers on our courts. 

The club now boasts five courts and intends to build more

“The UK is a nation of chronically ill people, and I think padel tennis can help solve this problem.

“It’s accessible and delivers physical and mental engagement for individual players, families and older people – it’s definitely something you can pick up later in life.

“We have players here aged up to 78, who are coming on a regular basis and it’s important that councils and landowners understand what padel tennis can do.

“I fear that the sport may be moving to exclusive price points that won’t address these areas. 

“The reason it has become so popular in Spain is because it was played in the poorer parts of the cities at courts made of concrete on industrial estates – not with fancy glass.

“We will always be a club that remains accessible.”

Padel, for those who don’t know, is a game for four people played on a smaller court than tennis with hard walls that come into the action when balls bounce off them.

“The scoring is the same as in tennis.

Court pricing at Stratford Padel Club starts at £16 per player for 90 minutes at off-peak times, rising to £19 at peak times for non members.

There are cheaper options for two and three-hour sessions. Various membership packages are also available, which reduce the fees further. 

Stratford Padel Club co-owner Javier Fernandez Aguirre

Children aged three and a half and over are also welcome and coaching sessions for adults and kids at all levels are available. 

“We don’t want anyone to feel like they have had wasted time or wasted their money, so we’ve created a £10 starter package that everyone begins with,” said Anka, who accidentally discovered padel while trying in vain to find a court to play a tennis match on. 

“With that package, you get a coaching session for 30 minutes, a player rating from the coach and then a free membership for 30 days.

“The rating is your point of entry into matches, tournaments and lessons.

“Regardless of your level, we want to make sure that you’re going to have a positive experience at the club – the people you play with will be plus or minus five points from your rating.

 “If you come as a beginner, you know that you’re not going to play with advanced players, that lessons will be customised for your level, that tournaments are going to be appropriately challenging – so it’s never going to be a daunting experience and you’re not going to be out of your depth.

“It will also give you a road map of what you need to do to improve. We know people play more if they feel they are getting better.

“We have a very detailed matrix on our app – we’ve put a lot of time into it to help people do that.

Padel is always played as doubles with four people on court

“The 30 days also give players time to see if they like the club, whether they want to embrace the community and if everything feels right.”

The club, which hosts the largest padel tournaments in the country and is partnered with the Lawn Tennis Association – the governing body for the sport in the UK – and boasts a beer garden, equipment shop plus changing and shower facilities. 

It also offers table tennis and gym facilities to complement its core offering. 

Its more than 11,000 registered players represent a complete spectrum from total beginners to those playing the sport at the highest elite levels. 

It is located within easy walking distance of both Stratford station and Pudding Mill Lane DLR and is also accessible directly from Canary Wharf via the D8 bus.

As for the future, things look bright.

There’s the mooted expansion at the Stratford site, which has a lease until 2025, while Javier and Anka are eyeing fresh openings in other parts of London.

Watch this space.

Find out more about Stratford Padel Club here.

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Isle Of Dogs: How Mudchute Kitchen provides a warm welcome on the Island

Greta Dzidziguri’s cafe comes complete with generous portions and a snoozing Siberian husky

Greta Dzidziguri runs Mudchute Kitchen on the Isle Of Dogs

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The contented form of Hulk the Siberian husky is a more or less constant presence on the brown-tiled floor of Mudchute Kitchen.

For him, it’s a place to take it easy, which at the grand old age of 13 (around 82 in human years), is doubtless welcome.

He’s a popular fixture – so much so that he’s now often to be found slumbering beneath a hi-vis notice politely asking visitors to leave him to his much-needed rest. 

While interviewing Greta Dzidziguri – who owns both the cafe and Hulk – it quickly becomes apparent why.

A steady stream of children shyly (and some less so) arrive to pet him as he trails around after us, keen to share in any potential limelight.

While placid and stoic, despite the attentions of small fingers, it’s easy to see how such repeated intrusions might become a little irritating for even the most laid-back old gentleman – hence the notice.

It comes across more as a recognition of the central part he plays in this welcoming place – definitely Mudchute Kitchen’s spirit animal – than a restrictive warning. 

“He gets more attention than I do,” said Greta.

“When people come here, they go to see him first then say hello to me.

“Of course he’s not going to bite, but it’s important that people – especially the children – ask first before saying hello.”

Hulk is often to be found snoozing under a table

It’s perhaps a testament to the welcoming atmosphere Greta has fostered at Mudchute Kitchen that Hulk feels so comfortable and visitors feel so obviously welcome.

The cafe operates as an independent business at one corner of Mudchute Park And Farm’s main courtyard and exists in symbiosis with its activities. 

Visitors to the 32-acre site at the heart of the Isle Of Dogs need refreshment and Greta and her team are only too happy to provide that, offering hot drinks, slushies, ice cream and cakes alongside an all-day menu of breakfasts and wholesome specials.

There’s seating indoors and out, with the establishment a popular focal point for people to gather with kids, especially at weekends where toys dominate the central space encircled by cafe tables to the venue’s rear.

It’s a simple but effective recipe that has always drawn a loyal local audience and has seen growth since the pandemic.

“The lockdowns were tough – I was often working on my own and we could only do takeaways,” said Greta, who has been running the business for nearly a decade. 

“But people came back because the park is such a beautiful place to come and it’s perfect for the kids – everyone gets to know each other.

“The cafe is about community. Everyone is welcome here.

“We have some regulars who come and order the same thing every time – we’ll see them in the queue and won’t even need to ask what they want. 

“When I first started we had a team of three or four, but we’ve had to grow because we have many more customers now.

“We serve good quality food that’s all home made and our portions are really big, so I think this is why people keep coming back.

Mudchute Kitchen is located at Mudchute Park And Farm

“People are happy to wait for the food because of that quality and the atmosphere – we have a lovely relationship with our customers and we really care about them.

“My aim is to serve a menu that makes everyone happy – we offer cooked breakfasts and then we also have specials that we chalk up on our blackboard.

“These are dishes I create and we then see if they are popular.

“Some stay for a long time such as chicken soup, for example.”

Born in Lithuania, Greta travelled the world working as a chef with stints in South Africa, Sweden, Italy and Ireland.

She currently lives in Bermondsey, commuting over to the Island with Hulk to run the cafe.

“I feel there’s a lot more potential here and we’d like to do more,” she said.

“We’ve grown through word of mouth and I’d love to get involved with a food charity or perhaps offer something specifically targeted at older residents where people can socialise. 

“I’d also like to do something for children such as art classes with drawing and painting in the future.”

Mudchute Kitchen is open from 10am-3pm Tuesday-Friday and from 10am-5pm at weekends.

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Canada Water: How Phantom Peak offers a total escape from the real world

Immersive experience welcomes visitors into a mysterious world of canals and platypuses

Phantom Peak co-founder Nick Moran

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…we’re on the trail of a missing package, but something sinister is going on. There’s blackmail, a robotic AI doctor that’s scathing about our putrid human bodies, a curious undertaker, odd business cards, a disgusted scientist and TVs that play sinister messages when tuned to the right channel. Oh, and there’s something just not quite right about that mayor…

Welcome to the strange, uncanny world of Phantom Peak.

The comic book adjectives seem appropriate for an immersive experience that aims to place those attending right in the middle of a larger than life narrative.

Located a short walk from Canada Water station inside and outside a disused industrial building, the venue promises a fully realised steampunk town complete with canals, waterfalls and residents to interact with.

But things don’t stand still.

The place may have opened a little over a year ago, but it’s just launched its fifth season – the latest chapter in a complex, involved saga designed to keep people coming back for more.

Each time it resets, there are fresh characters to meet, new mysteries to solve and adventures to go on – an approach that for co-founder Nick Moran is akin to another medium altogether.

“When you come to Phantom Peak, you’re essentially coming to a real-life, open world, role-playing video game,” he said.

“It’s up to you whether you walk to the hills and carry on walking or spend your time crafting minerals – you can do what you like. 

“It’s all about player agency, creating a world where people can explore and experience many different things.

“You can do all the events that the townsfolk run all day, or you can follow the trails and the stories.

“It’s not like immersive theatre where you don’t know what you’re doing – you’re guided through the experiences.”

The setting is Phantom Peak, a cultish sort of town in the grip of corporate entity Jonaco, which rebuilt the place after a suspicious blimp accident, founded and controlled by the buff, messianic figure of Jonas.

Part of the vast Phantom Peak installation in Canada Water

Visitors are encouraged to download an app and answer questions to find a quest to follow – although everyone is equally free just to wander around chatting to the townsfolk, playing games and indulging in the street food and beverages on offer from the various outlets.

It’s extensive, expansive and – because of the myriad paths on offer – filled with eager puzzle-solvers hunting solutions, intrigue and adventure.

Oh, and there’s a platypus hooking game in honour of the town’s peculiar mascot.

“This place was an abandoned warehouse and a car park when we came here,” said Nick.

“We’ve transformed it and it’s impossible to do everything at Phantom Peak on a single visit. 

“Each time – whether you come with your friends or your family – it will be different, with new stories and trails to explore.

“Then, each season, we create a new chapter in the life of the town – some characters may have gone, others will remain, but there will always be something new and it allows us to move forward or backwards in time with the narrative. “

That’s an aspect Nick and the team take extremely seriously.

Following a degree in classics he trained in writing for the stage and screen before working to create live experiences around newly published books.

This led to a job as creative director of Time Run – a pair of escape room-style games that welcomed thousands of competitors through their doors.

He then performed the same role for The Game Is Now, an immersive experience – officially tied into TV series Sherlock – which he co-wrote with Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat.

The puzzle, which features Gatiss, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Andrew Scott, continues to run in west London.

But, having teamed up with set-building expert Glen Hughes, Nick wanted to create something that went beyond the medium of escaping from a room.

“We decided we wanted to do something that would combine all the things we liked about immersive experiences – gamification, storytelling, open world, choice and being able to sit and relax too,” said Nick.

“Escape rooms are all about high engagement, high throughput and pushing people from one thing to the next.

The level of detail at Phantom Peak is phenomenal with much attention paid to props, characters and design

Phantom Peak isn’t like that. It’s about being as engaged as you want to be. It’s all about stories – less a fundamentally passive theatre experience than a place where you can take on a role.

“We wanted it to be a world of play – man-made canals, platypuses, a huge muscular impresario named Jonas.

“From there the stories write themselves – but we take it seriously. It’s like making a TV show.

“There’s a writers’ room where we think about the characters and how we can make the narratives resonate with people.

“It’s novelistic – a place that has real depth, where there’s lots to explore but also lots to do.

“It’s like the platypus itself, the mascot of the town. It’s neither one thing nor another – not quite a mammal, not quite a bird.

“But it’s the symbol of the place and the townsfolk love it.

“Some of the actors we have working here have been with us since we opened and they’ve really grown with the town.

“They are as much a part of the place as anything in the stories and it’s been a real pleasure to see it develop that way.” 

Nick and Glen are currently raising funds to expand Phantom Peak globally. 

Read more: How Wharf Wellness is set to fill Canary Wharf with calm

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Canary Wharf: How Dancing City is set to fill the estate with free performances

Greenwich + Docklands International Festival arrives in Canary Wharf for its 28th season

Bouncing Narratives will take place at Canary Riverside

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The Greenwich + Docklands International Festival (GDIF) is set to run from August 25-September 10, 2023, with free performances taking place all over east and south-east London.

It’s a firm fixture in the calendar and celebrates its 28th season this year with founder and artistic director Bradley Hemmings, as ever, at the helm.

Having previewed the wider event in our last issue, our focus now turns to GDIF’s return to Canary Wharf with its regular Dancing City pop-up on the weekend of September 9-10, 2023.

The death of the Queen saw the event cancelled at the last minute in 2022, however, some of the scheduled acts that were set to perform are on the bill again this time around

Read more: Bradley Hemminds talks about GDIF’s wider programme

This year also marks a limited return to contemporary dance performance during the working week, with recent festivals preferring to stick to weekend dates.

Consequently Wharfers will get their first local taste of GDIF on September 6-7, 2023, with Pan~ // Catwalk.

The show may sound like one of Grimes and Elon Musk’s children, but is actually a theatrical dance fashion show promising to challenge “the urge to label or judge others based on how they appear, revealing instead a mind-opening celebration of fluidity and self-expression”.

Pan~ // Catwalk is set to be performed over four dates in Canary Wharf

Performances will take place in Canada Place close to HSBC in the mall at 1.30pm and 4pm on both the weekday and weekend dates.

Audiences can expect multiple, extravagant costume changes over the 40-minute shows.

“We’re really keen to offer the workforce at Canary Wharf a taster of Dancing City,” said Bradley.

“We’d often done that in the past, but the pandemic and one thing and another had got in the way, so it will be really brilliant to bring it back.

“The whole dynamic of Canary Wharf at lunchtime and early evening is buzzy and lovely, so I think it will work really well there.

“It’s an exciting piece and it’s got a real connection to its setting in the mall with a backdrop of retailers and this brilliantly choreographed fashion show where the two performers go through a heavily synchronised series of scores of costume changes in the course of the performance – it should be really fun.”

Joe Powell-Main and The Royal Ballet will perform Sleepwalker following last year’s cancellation

Including Pan~ // Catwalk, the weekend dates will see Canary Wharf host 12 contemporary dance acts in locations including Columbus Courtyard, Westferry Circus, Wren Landing and Water Street on Wood Wharf.

“Because of the death of the Queen, we were unable to proceed with any events on our final weekend last year,” said Bradley.

“So we’re coming back with a fantastic programme this year featuring some of the artists who would have performed in 2022.

“That includes Joe Powell-Main who will become the first disabled dancer to perform with The Royal Ballet in emotionally charged duet Sleepwalker in Columbus Courtyard.

“That will be a real highlight among the really varied programme for the festival as a whole.

Read more: Joe Powell-Main speaks to Wharf Life in 2022

“Personally I’m really excited to see Bouncing Narratives.

“It’s going to be down at Canary Riverside in a shipping container, so some of the audience can actually get inside it and others will watch from the steps that lead down to the Thames.

“The roof of the container is made as a trampoline, so the performance takes place with people underneath it and that will be very special.

“Among the other wonderful shows will be Arcade at Water Street, which takes the form of a series of games that people are invited to take part in.

“There’s also a fantastic piece from two young dancers in their teens called 4 Minutes, which speaks directly to the lived experiences of young people. 

“Both 16-year-olds get four minutes each at Wren Landing to report back on life through dance in a joyful duet.”

These shows are very much the tip of the iceberg, however with the Wharf also hosting Moon, a duet based around a table and two chairs at Wood Wharf’s  Harbour Quay Gardens, Tread, an explosive stunt performance featuring a constantly running treadmill at Crossrail Place and You & Me, a piece telling the story of a same sex relationship through the traditions of kathak dance and cello and tabla music at Westferry Circus.

Wharf Life’s top pick for 2023, however has to be Valse à Newton – a giant Newton’s Cradle that comes complete with acrobats and dancers all set to swing in Montgomery Square.

A blend of physics, daring, gravity, time and space, it should really be something to see.

Find out more about Dancing City and GDIF here 

Read more: How Wharf Wellness is set to fill Canary Wharf with calm

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via
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Canary Wharf: How The Felix Project’s Santa Stair Climb will help feed Londoners

Challenge will see participants scale 48 floors of One Canada Square to raise cash for the charity

The Felix Project’s first Santa Stair Climb will take place in November 2023

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What links green Father Christmas hats, One Canada Square and the distribution of unwanted food to people in need?

The answer is the Santa Stair Climb in Canary Wharf on Sunday, November 19, 2023, and anyone can take part.

As part of its ongoing partnership with Canary Wharf Group, food rescue charity The Felix Project is challenging people to a sponsored walk up a total of 1,031 steps at One Canada Square to reach the tower’s 48th floor. 

With early-bird registration just launched, there are 1,000 places up for grabs at £25 per person, with each individual given a fundraising target of £300. 

Participants receive a personalised green shirt and Santa’s hat to wear during the challenge, with ascents expected to take just over half an hour on average.

“I’ve been training for it, but I’m not sure I’ll be doing it that fast,” said Tanya Mitchell, director of income generation and marketing at The Felix Project.

“But I will complete it, even if it takes me an hour.

“We’ll have staggered start times between 10am and 2.30pm with 100 people in each wave so the stairwell doesn’t get too busy.

“Participants are asked to arrive an hour beforehand and we’ll be running activities in the lobby with a warm-up and an MC overseeing things.

“We’ve also been gifted the use of the 48th floor for the day, which has the most outstanding views over the London skyline from near the top of the third tallest building in the UK.

“They really are exceptional and this is a rare chance to see them.

“We’re hoping to raise as much money as possible, but we’ve set ourselves a target of £300,000 for this first event.

“That would equate to us being able to make and distribute 870,000 meals to Londoners.”

Participants will take on 48 floors of stairs at One Canada Square

For those who don’t know, The Felix Project is the largest charity of its kind in the capital, collecting food that would otherwise be wasted and redistributing it via a network of organisations to those in need.

“Right now it’s estimated that there are 1.2million people in London living with food insecurity or in food poverty – about 20%,” said Tanya.

“Through our own research with YouGov, we looked at people on low incomes earning an average salary of £20,000 and it’s shocking that one in 10 of them has only £2.95 a day to spend on food.

“We work with more than 500 food suppliers, rescuing produce from farm gates, grocers and the hospitality industry to supply really good, nutritious, fresh meals.

“We operate through four depots in London, taking that food in hour-by-hour, day-by-day, six days a week, 12 hours a day to help serve the needs of more than 1,000 charities and organisations in the capital.

“What that £300,000 would mean is that we’ll be able to pick up thousands of tons of food, take it into a depot, sort it and then immediately get it out to hundreds of organisations where it will be given to people in need of a good meal.

“Here in Tower Hamlets – one of the most deprived boroughs in the country – we work with 90 organisations through out Poplar depot.”

The Santa Stair Climb is the flagship event in The Felix Project’s long-term partnership with Canary Wharf Group, which was announced earlier this year.

There are up to 1,000 place up for grabs with successful climbers rewarded with views across London from Canary Wharf’s tallest tower

“We started off by launching The Green Scheme, which means we’ve been able to go out to the retailers and hospitality businesses on the estate to collect food that would otherwise be wasted, from them,” said Tanya.

“An army of volunteers takes it from those businesses to community organisations to distribute five days a week.

“It’s a pivotal relationship for us because while we want to fight hunger in London, we also want to fight food waste and there is complete sympatico between us and Canary Wharf in its commitment to sustainability and its aim to reach net zero by 2030. We’re part of that solution.

“The Santa Stair Climb is a first for Felix and CWG – it’s exciting and exhilarating to be planning an event for 1,000 people and we want it to be a hero event for London.

“Originally, in the 1800s, Santa’s costume was green so we’re re-appropriating that for the event.

“I can’t wait to see 1,000 people all in green climbing those stairs and we really want to thank CWG and everyone involved for giving us this exclusive opportunity.

“The 48th floor isn’t normally open to the public, so this is a very special event. 

“The 1,000 slots will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and I’d also like to say a big thank you to everyone who is considering entering – it’s going to be a fabulous event, a really magical day.”

Those keen to take part can go to for more information or scan the QR code at the bottom of this page.

The Felix Project’s director of income generation and marketing, Tanya Mitchell

For those unable to participate, there are many other ways to get involved with The Felix Project, which last year delivered some 29million meals to those in need and is expecting to distribute 30million this year.

People working in Canary Wharf or those living locally can still volunteer for the Green Scheme.

Roles include drivers, co-drivers and walkers to collect food from businesses on the estate and deliver them to community organisations.

Volunteers are also needed at The Felix Project’s Poplar kitchen and warehouse to prepare ingredients, portion and package meals for onward delivery.

Tanya said: “Last year we had 8,500 people step up to the plate to help us in our efforts to defeat food waste and hunger in London.

“We are an organisation that’s powered by volunteers and we are so grateful to them because demand for our services is rising.

“We anticipate that we will rescue 13,000 tonnes of food this year, but the UK wastes 3million tonnes – only 7%-8% is currently rescued, so we can always do more.

“Just before the pandemic, The Felix Project was distributing around six million meals a year. Now it’s five times as many.

“The other change is that now key workers are accessing the community organisations we supply like food banks and community pantries. It’s a big problem. 

“Ultimately it is our mission not to exist and we are part of conversations with organisations that are working with the government to address the issues of food insecurity and poverty.”

Find out more about the Santa Stair Climb or sign up here

Read more: How Wharf Wellness is set to fill Canary Wharf with calm

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via
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Canary Wharf: How Wharf Wellness will showcase offerings across the estate

Four-day wellbeing festival will feature taster sessions, offers and discounts in September 2023

Third Space will be hosting Yoga at Crossrail Place Roof Garden for Wharf Wellness

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We’ve had the blockbuster nights of Festival14 with the likes of Craig Charles and Soul II Soul rocking Canada Square Park.

There have been the tense dramatic screenings of the Lionesses’ triumphs and noble defeat in the World Cup Final.

There’s about to be the spectacle of Dancing City.

But just when you thought things might be settling down, another festival packed with activities arrives on the horizon.

There’s an air of serene calm about this one, however – an antidote, perhaps, to some of the summer’s frenetic buzz.

Wharf Wellness is set to take over the Canary Wharf estate from September 27-30, 2023, with a four-day programme of taster sessions and experiences as well as discounts and offers.

While the full roster of events is still being finalised, Canary Wharf Group has shared some early details so everyone can begin to get organised. 

Broadly speaking, Wharf Wellness can be divided relatively neatly in two.

The first is a programme of experiences run by local firms and organisations based on the estate, designed to showcase what they offer with taster workouts and workshops.

The second is a series of discounts and offers from lifestyle and hospitality businesses on the Wharf that will run throughout the festival’s four-day duration.

Canary Wharf Group retail marketing manager, Claire Slater, said: “It’s a celebration of health and wellbeing across the estate.

Wharf Wellness brings together the best in fitness, healthy eating and healthcare to reflect the diversity of what’s on offer in Canary Wharf, giving workers, visitors and local residents the opportunity to experience it.

“We decided to create it because of the breadth of what’s here, which we really want to shout about.

Canary Wharf Group retail marketing manager Claire Slater

“Ultimately, we want to give people a bit of ‘me time’ while they’re on the Wharf and also to promote our green spaces and waterways – to let people know how much there is here to get involved with and how they can do that.”

The full programme of events is still being finalised with more announcements expected in the coming weeks, but some of the estate’s biggest names are already involved including Third Space, Barry’s and Sweat By BXR.

“We hope there will be an element of surprise for some people participating,” said Claire.

“For example, Third Space will be hosting a Yoga session at Crossrail Place Roof Garden with a mocktail afterwards at Pergola On The Wharf.

“Some people have yet to discover that space, so having the classes up there will really add to the delight we hope people taking part will feel.

“Personally, I think it’s just a really lovely place to be.”

The majority of activities on offer will be free to attend with bookings set to open mid September. 

Access to all classes will be via the Canary Wharf app, which can be downloaded via this link for Android or Apple devices.

A series of discounts, offers and events will also be available exclusively via the app featuring the likes of Randox Health, Space NK, Farmer J, Atis, Pure, Le Chalet Cryo, Aesop and BlooBloom, details of which will be announced in due course.

Love Open Water will host a session suitable for beginners in Middle Dock

“With most sessions free, Wharf Wellness means you don’t need to have a gym membership to experience an amazing class from the brands taking part,” said Claire.

“There will also be open water swimming in Middle Dock with Love Open Water – a really inclusive session designed for beginners to explore in a safe space.

“We’re also very excited about Padium, the new padel tennis club, which is opening its doors at Bank Street at the end of the month.

“They will be offering a session to introduce people to the sport and the facility, which comes with a salad from Urban Greens too.”

Other attractions include plant-based summer roll making in a lunchtime session with a chef at recent Wood Wharf arrival Mallow and a makeup masterclass from Bobbi Brown.

“That’s part of our focus on self-care,” said Claire.

“It’s on the Friday evening, which is perfect for anyone who is set to go out afterwards.

“Then, alongside sessions from Barry’s and Union Square installation Mandala Lab on Saturday, we’re also working to provide something for families with a company called Wee Movers.

“They will be putting on a session of Yoga for kids and their parents at Crossrail Place Roof Garden.”

 With more still in the pipeline, Wharf Life will continue to update readers as new announcements are made, including the date when bookings will go live.

Until then, stay tuned to Canary Wharf’s website and app for updates.

Barry’s at Crossrail Place will be offering sessions in its Red Room studio

CHOOSE YOUR PATH – Wharf Wellness 2023

While the final programme is set to be released in September, we can reveal some dates and times to whet the wellness appetite and get pencils scribbling in diaries…


Yoga + Mocktails

5.45pm, Crossrail Roof Garden

Europe’s largest luxury health club, Third Space, will host a Yoga session amid the lush vegetation of the roof garden followed by a refreshing mocktail at nearby Pergola On The Wharf.

Sound Journey

6pm, Mandala Lab, Union Square

Head over to Wood Wharf and discover the Rubin Museum’s interactive installation for a sonic adventure inspired by the principles of Buddhism. Mandala Lab will also be hosting sessions on Sept 29 and 30, both at 6pm.


Dip + Sip

7.45am, Love Open Water, Middle Dock

Beginners are welcome at this morning open water swimming session at the heart of Canary Wharf. Afterwards, participants are invited for a smoothie or juice at Caravan.

The Red Room 

Time TBC, Barry’s, Crossrail Place

Try out a class in Barry’s iconic red room fitness studio, mixing cardio with resistance training to torch calories fast. Barry’s will also be hosting a session on Sept 30, time TBC.

Summer Roll Making

12.30pm, Mallow, Wood Wharf

Visit the plant-based restaurant for a 50-minute session with participants learning to make summer rolls for their lunch. A great way to discover what Mallow has to offer.

Sweat By BXR will be hosting a boxing class for Wharf Wellness


Boxing Class

8am, Sweat By BXR, Crossrail Place Roof Garden

Start the day with a serious, boxing-inspired workout amongst the greenery from this bespoke studio, then refuel with breakfast from Fresh Fitness Food.

Intro To Padel

2pm, Padium, Bank Street

Learn to play padel tennis at newly opened club Padium with this hour and a half-long session covering rules, scoring, techniques and strategies. Participants will also get a salad from nearby Urban Greens.

Makeup Masterclass

5.30pm, Bobbi Brown, Location TBC

Zeroing in on self care, this session is aimed at those looking for tips and techniques to perfect their look.


Kids + Parents Yoga

2.30pm, Wee Movers, Crossrail Place Roof Garden

This hour-long session is aimed at family wellness, with kids and their parents invited for a child-friendly exploration of movement and wellbeing.

Read More: ow Jon Hala in Canary Wharf became a family business

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via
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West India Quay: How Indo + Caribbean tells the story of indentured labour

Temporary exhibition at the Museum Of London Docklands offers insight into the practice

Indenture transportation: The SS Chenab at West India Docks in 1928 – image Museum Of London Docklands

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Walk around West India Docks today and, despite a few preserved cranes, mooring points and the odd plaque, it’s relatively easy to forget that every honeyed brick in their construction has witnessed the passage of a history that profoundly affected the lives of people across the globe for the better part of two centuries.

In 2023, their  waters are busy with BBQ and hot tub boats, families on little electric launches having picnics and open water swimmers with fluorescent tow floats. 

The quays themselves have mostly been overtaken by the concrete overhangs of Canary Wharf.

It’s wonderful that these bustling, lively scenes exist, but it’s equally important to tell the stories of what came before, in some cases so we can acknowledge the horrors of the past and reflect on how we might ensure such things are avoided in future.

Fortunately we have the Museum Of London Docklands on West India Quay to do just that – its staff working hard to ensure its displays are relevant, engaging and unflinching as they work to unlock the past for visitors.

My way into its latest free, temporary exhibition – Indo + Caribbean: The Creation Of A Culture – for example, the image at the top of this page – taken in West India Docks when the SS Chenab paid London a visit in 1928.

It’s part of the museum’s collection and looks, at first glance, to be a fairly innocuous picture.

The Museum Of London Docklands’ temporary Indo + Carribbean display – image Museum Of London Docklands

But this vessel was originally built for James Nourse Ltd in 1911 to transport indentured labourers from India to other British colonies after slavery was abolished.

“This image was taken a little after indenture ended, in 1917, but we also found the company’s log book with the details of all the journeys that its ships made and we have that on show, open on the page for the Chenab,” said Shereen Lafhaj, the exhibition’s curator.

“That’s really interesting because it gives an indication of how the journeys were viewed and how the indentured labourers were treated.

“It’s all numbers and there are references to half people, who would have been children.

“We make the point that this exhibition is to do with the British Caribbean, although the topic of indenture is a much wider story. India was sending indentured labourers all over the world.

“Before the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act, the work being done on plantations in the British Caribbean to produce things like sugar, rubber and cocoa was being done by enslaved Africans.

“After 1833, planters in the British Caribbean were asking where their cheap labour could come from and India was seen as the perfect solution.

“It was in the British Empire, there was already an Indian indenture system going on in Mauritius at the time, and so they used that as a template.

“Basically, labourers would commit to working for a set number of years – usually three to five on plantations.

Indo + Caribbean curator Shereen Lafhaj

“In return they would be promised accommodation, a basic wage and so on, but it’s very obvious that most of the indentured labourers did not know what they were signing up for.

“All that was required was a thumb print. We have an example of one of these contracts as part of the exhibition.

“It was back-breaking work, with children over 10 and women also participating on the plantations doing activities like spreading manure or cutting sugar cane – gruelling tasks.”

The display, which is free to visit and located on the museum’s top floor, offers an introduction to the topic of indenture, people’s experience of travelling to the Caribbean and what they found when they got there.

“Indenture was a very mixed picture and it’s a complex area but we do know most people did not understand what they were getting into,” said Shereen.

“In our audio section you have clips of stories of people getting on board or even trying to escape from the depots they were kept in before embarking.

“It was also a huge cultural shock because India had a caste system and that was completely ignored.

“This caused problems for people returning to India after their indenture as they became the victims of negative stereotypes.”

There’s also a section on Indo Caribbean Londoners, recording the experiences of those who came to the UK on ships such as the Empire Windrush, but slipped through the net of recognition, with no category on the census to record their presence.

“We have three wonderful partners who are Londoners and they’ve recorded a great song for us where they talk about identity, London and their families,” said Shereen.

“We thought it was really important to tell some of these stories too.”

Find out more about the exhibition, which runs until November 19, 2023, here.

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Woolwich: How Dock28’s homes are focused on affordability in south-east London

Fairview New Homes apartments are located beside Royal Arsenal’s Broadwater canal

An artist’s impression of Dock28 with Canary Wharf in the background

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A focus on affordability is the overall philosophy driving Fairview New Homes’ approach to its latest scheme in Woolwich.

Homes at Dock28 are set to become available at the south-east London site from August 19 and the developer has brought them forward with low price points and running costs very much in mind.

Comprising 216 apartments, split into studio, one, two and three-bedroom homes, the scheme is located on the banks of the disused Broadwater canal.

This once served the industrial operations of the Royal Arsenal and meets the Thames to the north.

Sited about 16 minutes’ walk to the east of both Woolwich Elizabeth Line station and Royal Arsenal DLR and rail station, future residents will benefit from the widespread regeneration of the area as well as the multitude of improvements to the historic town centre.

Such developments mean those buying at Dock28 will be within 15 minutes of numerous pubs, bars and restaurants as well as the extensive cultural space of Woolwich Works and the many shops of the High Street.

Fairview New Homes sales manager, Sohail Saiyed, said: “When you look at this development and the way we have approached it, it’s a very affordable option.

“It’s set within a really lovely area – when you look at what’s happened here over the past few years, I think the location massively benefits from the nearby regeneration.

“What we’re offering – when you look locally at how much apartments are being marketed for – is very good value with the guide price for a studio starting at £275,000, one-beds from £297,000, two-beds from £390,000 and three-beds from £475,000.”

Homes at Dock28 will be located beside the Broadwater canal

These prices are markedly lower than those in the likes of Royal Docks or the Isle Of Dogs, with buyers able to save tens of thousands of pounds on similar sized properties.

Prospective buyers can also look forward to lower service charges, with Fairview taking a pared down approach to on-site amenities in favour of lower bills for residents.

Sohail said: “There will be a communal residents’ garden as well as a roof terrace for people to use, but Fairview’s approach is to try to make the homes we build as affordable as possible both to buy and in terms of the service charge.

“Amenities like gyms and concierge services mean higher bills, but we still put security at the heart of our designs with a two-step entry system so packages and mail can be delivered safely to the blocks.”

The apartments themselves aren’t short on features either with private balconies and patio spaces offering outdoor space.

The three-bedroom duplexes at the scheme will extend to more than 1,000sq ft of internal space too.

Fairview is currently marketing one, two and three-bedroom homes

“You have large windows throughout the apartments, a white matte finish on the walls, with premium painted doors, chrome handles and sun-bleached oak Amtico flooring in the living areas and grey carpets in the bedrooms,” said Sohail.

“In the kitchens, there are quartz, salt-and-pepper, worktops with dove grey doors to the units, fully integrated appliances including fridge-freezers, induction hobs, electric ovens, wall-mounted microwaves and free standing washer dryers in the storage cupboards.”

Some properties feature views of the Thames, while others take in the Canary Wharf skyline to the west – a reminder perhaps that the estate can be reached in less than half an hour, door-to-door thanks to the arrival of Crossrail.

The DLR offers access to Royal Docks and London City Airport, while trains offer trips to Greenwich, Deptford and London Bridge – not to mention the nearby Uber Boat By Thames Clippers river bus.

All in all, Dock28 is very well connected.

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via
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