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Isle Of Dogs: How Ballet Nights is set to return for its first east London show in 2024

Gala platform for ballet and contemporary dance is set for February dates at Lanterns Studio Theatre

Yasmine Naghdi and Reece Clarke of The Royal Ballet will perform

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“Our story continues” is the strapline for the latest evening of dance to come to Lanterns Studio Theatre on the Isle Of Dogs.

Building on three editions at the east London venue, which took place between September and November last year, Ballet Nights is set to return for a fourth iteration over two nights on February 23 and 24, 2024.

Having already set a predecent for drawing some of the best dancers in the world to the Island, the latest programme continues in similar vein with performers from the English National Ballet and Studio Wayne McGregor on the bill. 

But perhaps chief among the attractions will be Yasmine Naghdi and Reece Clarke, both pincipal dancers at The Royal Ballet.

The pair will perform twice on each of the gala-style evenings, presenting Spring Waters Pas De Deux to cap off a packed first half and Balcony Pas De Deux from Romeo And Juliet to round off the evening. 

“It’s the format that makes the Ballet Nights concept special,” said Jamiel Devernay-Laurence, the shows’ artistic director and producer.

“For audiences who are unfamiliar with dance, it’s a really good way to get a taste of the very best things that are going on right now.

“For artists like Yasmine and Reece – who both dance together a lot at The Royal Ballet – to be coming to Docklands is a big deal.

“Audiences can expect many virtuosic lifts, throws and catches in their first performance before they take on the memorable and iconic choreography of Sir Kenneth MacMillan in the second.

Jamiel Devernay-Laurence will once again host the evening

“We listen to our audiences and with feedback that they wanted to see more of our headliners, I wanted to experiment with a snappy performance at the end of act one before the big piece at the end the night. 

“There is nothing more meaningful and romantic than the Balcony Pas De Deux – it’s exactly what people are ready for.”

Audiences will see a total of 12 performances, split into two halves over a period of two hours on each of the two forthcoming nights at Lanterns. 

These include two new works performed by resident pianist Viktor Erik Emanuel, who will also join Felicity Chadwick for 324a, set to music by JS Bach. 

“She was a new discovery in our September show,” said Jamiel.

“Here she returns for people to really experience what she can do, dancing the choreography of Joshua Junker from The Royal Ballet.”

The shows at Lanterns differ significantly from most other presentations of ballet.

Audiences sit on a level with the dancers and performances take place right in front of the spectators. 

Ballet Nights’ programmes feature classical styles alongside contemporary pieces offering ticket holders the chance to experience a wide range of movement and music on a single evening.

But the brand goes beyond the physical performances.

“For many startups in dance and other genres of the arts, there’s often a launch, but for things to continue in perpetuity is rarer,” said Jamiel.

“I want audiences to get used to the idea of Ballet Nights both as a series of performances, but also as a platform.

“We have various digital productions so people can see behind-the-scenes and get to know the artists via our podcasts. 

Felicity Chadwick is set to perform with pianist Viktor Erik Emanuel

“Ballet Nights doesn’t go away after the performances have taken place – it continues celebrating the artists.

“That happens before the show and also at our legendary after-party experiences where we meet the dancers and discuss what they do and how they do it.

“We also want to be launching new traditions as the premiere ballet event in this area. 

“One of those, which is on the next programme, will be the mystery act, dancing in a style unlike any of the other performers on the night.

“We are quite a versatile platform in that in a full show audiences will see world class stars, modern masterpieces, legacy classics, new voices and new discoveries.

“To meet the demand for longer versions of pieces from emerging voices, we will be launching our very first Spotlight Shows on April 26 and 27, which will feature duo Pett – Clausen-Knight. 

“They will be performing in the February show too, so that is a chance for audiences to see more of them.”

The fourth edition is also set to have a contemporary offering from choreographer and dancer Jordan James Bridge as well as a debut performance from new duo Cydney Watson and Liam Woodvine, brought together by Jamiel under his creative umbrella.

“That’s a brand new launch, birthed at Lanterns Studio Theatre through one of our professional development programmes,” he said. 

“They were identified individually and we’ve had some fantastic results putting them together, so they will be making their world debut as a duo here.

“Jordan is a real audience favourite, judging by the standing ovations and it’s really fantastic to have him back again.

“He’s so capable and talented and it’s a real honour to have him performing at Ballet Nights.

“Then we have Chloe Keneally, who hasn’t had far to come, from English National Ballet at London City Island.

“She’ll be our tutu ballerina, providing us with two pieces – Etoile Variation from Paquita and Aurora from act three of Sleeping Beauty.

Ballet Nights is starting to become a piece of the fabric of what Canary Wharf has as a dance offer. 

Duo Pett – Clausen-Knight are on the bill and will also feature in a forthcoming Spotlight Show

“With some of the world’s best dancers appearing, loyal audience members are now making the journey for the second or third time.

“But what I’m most keen on is that residents nearby come and give the show a go. 

“This is a one-of-a-kind format that doesn’t yet exist anywhere else in the world and it’s right here on the Island.”

  • Doors open for Ballet Nights at 6.15pm, with performances running from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. Tickets start at £60.

Find out more about Ballet Nights here

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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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Isle Of Dogs: How Ballet Nights is blazing a trail at Lanterns Studio Theatre

The finale of the gala performance-style series is set to feature Jordan James Bridge’s Heisei 9

Constance Devernay-Laurence performs Jordan James Bridge’s Heisei 9 at Ballet Nights

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There’s an irrepressible energy about Jordan James Bridge that typifies the atmosphere around Ballet Nights.

It’s an excitement, a genuine thrill at the prospect of the next performance, the work that will be showcased and the moves unveiled.  

For those who don’t know, Ballet Nights is a platform for professional dancers to present pieces in the intimate, eye-level setting of Lanterns Studio Theatre on the Isle Of Dogs near South Quay DLR.

Conceived and compared by Jamiel Devernay-Laurence – formerly of Scottish Ballet – it kicked off its run with two dates in September and another two in October.

Its 2023 season will conclude with performances of its third programme on November 24-25, 2023, and that’s where Jordan comes in.

Having danced himself in the first programme, his work as a choreographer featured in the second and is set for a repeat showing on the forthcoming dates.

“The piece I’ve created is called Heisei 9, which is 1997 in Japanese,” said Jordan.

“The roleplaying computer game Final Fantasy VII – which was released that year – was very much my childhood and it had music composed by Nobuo Uematsu.

Dancer and choreographer Jordan Jams Bridge

“There’s an amazing battle theme in the game called Those Who Fight, so we have pianist Viktor Erik Emanuel playing it live on stage and I created a solo for prima ballerina, Constance Devernay-Laurence, to perform. 

“It’s en pointe and is super agile, swift, athletic and exciting.

“There’s also an amazing, original costume by Stevie Stewart – Constance wears this beautiful catsuit.

“While I created this piece as a solo, I love the connection between musician and dancer on the stage, so in my mind it’s really a duet.

“It’s technically very difficult for Constance and Victor. It’s three minutes, but there’s a lot packed in there.

“There’s kind of a competitive element with them both in the space and the lighting divides the stage quite well.

“It’s also very playful and I wanted to bring that out, because it’s very nostalgic for me. I spent a lot of time playing the game.

“There are not many choreographers who would even touch gaming, but the music was written to be played live.

“People coming to Ballet Nights might be expecting to hear classical pieces, but I believe they will enjoy this just as much as the more familiar music on the programme.”

Having trained at the London Contemporary Dance School, Jordan went on to join Alexander Whitley Dance Company, then Michael Clark Company.

Today, his main gig is as a dancer for Company Wayne McGregor based at Here East in Stratford.

Constance will perform Jordan’s work for a second time at the November shows

It’s a career that all started with an excitable childhood.

“My mum always told me that, when I was with friends in the garden or on the street, everyone else would be doing roly-poly and I’d already be doing handstands,” said Jordan.

“When they were doing cartwheels, I’d be doing front flips. I found dance at secondary school through Keeley Slack, my dance teacher.

“All the boys had two lessons in dance, to see if they enjoyed it, and I did. I was in the studio because I wanted to be there – there was no Instagram.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to create and choreograph as well as dance.

“When I was 16 I had my own small dance company called Imperial Feet.

“I enjoyed the idea of a collective getting together, and I just wanted to make dance – that’s where my brain is going right now too. I’ve been doing this for years.

“I’ve created multiple dance films, some award-winning, and I really enjoy doing dance for the screen.

Jordan James Bridge performing at Ballet Nights earlier this year

“Time constraints mean it’s more difficult for the stage, but I definitely see myself going there more in the future.

“It’s so important to have Ballet Nights because this sort of gala event for dance doesn’t really happen in the UK.

“In Europe there are similar shows in the summer, but not here.  

“The best thing is that at Lanterns, the dancers are only two or three metres away from the audience.

“You can hear their breath and really feel the energy radiate from them – there’s no shying away from the physicality of dance or trying to hide it.

“You see that dance is really hard work, but the performers look exquisite.

“As a performer you can see the audience and that makes it really intimate. 

“There’s an element of nerves which comes from that, of course, but it’s also super exciting and challenging.”

Ballet Nights’ final shows of 2023 will also include duets from Sangeun Lee and Gareth Haw plus Katja Khaniukova and Aitor Arrieta – all of the English National Ballet.

Solo performers will include Ivana Bueno, also of the English National Ballet, Yasser D’Oquendo of Acosta Danza and Laurel Dalley Smith of the Martha Graham Dance Company. 

Doors open on November 24 and 25, 2023, at 6.15pm with the shows starting at 7.30pm.

Tickets start at £65. Programmes are expected to return on a monthly basis next year. 

Acosta Danza’s Yasser D’Oquendo is also on the bill

You can find our more or book tickets here  

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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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Royal Docks: How Blackout Dance Camp combats mental and physical health issues

Founder Levan Peart talks dance at UEL, Britain’s Got Talent and expanding his London operation

Blackout Dance Company founder Levan Peart
Blackout Dance Company founder Levan Peart – image Matt Grayson

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“Dancing feels liberating – to be present and grounded in the moment gives me an outlet and a medium to express, be and present myself and to connect with others – it’s powerful,” said Levan Peart, dancer, student, choreographer and social entrepreneur.

The founder of community interest company (CIC) Blackout Dance Camp is constantly striving to harness that power as a way to combat mental and physical health issues.

“I really think they are synonymous – when you address one, you address the other,” he said.

“In the digital age, we can be frequently distracted – with social media, for example – so it’s great to come into a space, connect with others and to have that freedom of expression. 

“The exercise also releases endorphins so it generally improves your state of being and it stimulates your cognitive abilities because you’ll be using your brain in ways you’re not used to.

“You’re having to think and coordinate with your body but at the same time, release and let things flow.”

As a child, Levan danced with his siblings, discovering a passion that has been the foundation of his activities and one he is driven to share.

“I’ve loved dance since I was young – getting home from school and watching dance movies like You Got Served, Stomp The Yard, Streetdance, Step Up and Honey, and dancing to the music channels non-stop,” he said.

“Then two of my sisters and me joined a dance school having seen a story in the local newspaper.

“I’m from Telford originally – a very small town with not many opportunities and not much diversity, but we joined that group and that exposed us to the street dance world a bit more.

“Then my sisters, me and some other people split off and formed our own group called High Definition, which appeared on Britain’s Got Talent.

“My sisters and me also did Sky One’s Got To Dance when we were growing up as well.”

Levan now studies at the University Of East London
Levan now studies at the University Of East London – image Matt Grayson

While still in his teens, he first created Blackout at school, entering national competitions before the project evolved further.

“I’d been approached by some parents who wanted me to involve their dependants in dance, so we formed a group, with regular classes and entering competitions,” said Levan.

“From there, things just snowballed – I was getting into working with schools and meeting more and more teachers who wanted our services.”

Next came a partnership with local community centre The Wakes, offering free dance sessions to young people from low income backgrounds.

“That felt incredible – to give that gift of dance, because it was something, growing up, that I struggled to access,” said Levan.

“It was a real pleasure to be able to give that for free and there was a massive demand for it as well.”

Through that project, he was put in touch with Nicky Kent of Social Heart CIC who helped him set Blackout up as a social enterprise, before a move to London’s Royal Docks beckoned.

“I knew I wanted to get onto the Dance: Urban Practice course at the University Of East London (UEL), years ago,” said Levan.

“It’s the only course of its kind and I knew with my roots that this was the sort of environment I’d feel more aligned with.

“I’m not classically trained, I don’t have that background and this programme covers dance from other origins.

“But it was a bit of a lost dream. I didn’t have the right credentials to get enough UCAS points to be accepted.

“However, I did manage to get onto the New Beginnings access course at UEL – that meant travelling every week from Telford to London, a round trip of five hours.”

Having completed that programme and been accepted onto the undergraduate course, Levan is now seeking to develop and expand his activities with Blackout in both Telford and London.

“For me, it’s being able to balance Telford and London, because Telford is part of my roots and it’s somewhere I’m passionate about,” he said.

“The course at UEL has exceeded my expectations. For me it’s been an incubation period, a time of transcendence – spiritual, mental and physical growth.

Levan started Blackout in Telford
Levan started Blackout in Telford – image Matt Grayson

“Being exposed to new networks and meeting new peers – it really is a different life coming from a cold spot in the UK to such a bustling city, which is thriving and full of opportunity.

“With Blackout, we’re at the stage now of establishing a presence in London and the course I’m on at UEL is exposing me to a whole group of people we can look to work with in the delivery of our own funded projects, going forward.

“We offer a range of specialist dance, education and wellbeing services, integrating Caribbean-style dance with commercial dance to create our signature style.

“Our organisation is split into three segments. There’s the educational element, where we go into schools and deliver mass movement workshops where we can reach up to 400 children at any one time.

“We have our participatory element, which is our dance camps, workshops and intensives.

“The main aim of that is to bridge the gap between industry settings and community settings – to level the playing field for those from marginalised backgrounds. 

“We welcome beneficiaries from all walks of life, however we do have a focus on members of black and ethnic minority communities, LGBTQIA+ dancers, neurodivergent groups and those living in low-income areas.

“The third element is performative, where we have showcases and the opportunity for beneficiaries to take part in short films and screenings.”

Right now, Levan, 22, is focused on growing Blackout’s operations in the capital. 

“I want to continue to build up our programmes in schools in London – to build up a strong roster of people that we can use to deliver these services,” he said.

“There’s only so much you can do with a small team, so collaboration is key for the kind of mission that we have.

“I want to expand the team, expand the roll-out and also the organisation so there’s more time to focus on the artistic vision.

“Eventually it would be nice to create full-length films to raise awareness about issues we’re tackling through our work.

“Potentially, in the future, we’d even like to look at theatre.

“At the moment the programmes we offer in east London with our short films are on a call-out basis, so people should keep engaged with our social media profiles (@blackoutdancecamp) and keep an eye out for project opportunities.”

Levan is expanding Blackout's operation in London
Levan is expanding Blackout’s operation in London – image Matt Grayson


Levan has recently been honoured for his achievements at the Student Social Mobility Awards organised by charity upReach, attending a ceremony at the House Of Lords hosted by Baroness Helena Kennedy.

As well as winning the top Creative Industries Sector Award, he was also named as one of the upReach 10 in recognition of his grit, resilience and determination.

The accolade comes on the back of his success in winning the top prize of £2,500 in an incubator pitch competition organised by HSBC, where he impressed the judges with his entrepreneurial vision.

Levan said: “Winning that money didn’t feel real for a moment, especially as UEL is so close to HSBC’s tower.

“I was shocked but really grateful. It means a lot when you know where you came from and what you’ve had to do to get to where you are. It felt really good to get that external appraisal.

“With the Social Mobility Award, I didn’t think someone  from my demographic and origin would ever enter the House of Lords and take these awards with me.

“It’s a demonstration of what we can achieve if we work for it.

“This recognition has made me more determined than ever to succeed. I feel like this platform has made me more accountable to myself.

“I’ve set a benchmark and I know what I’m capable of. 

“I’m ready to spread my wings and help create a better society for Blackout’s beneficiaries.

“That’s the core of what I’m doing with Blackout – improving the lives of others.”

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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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