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Brocade receives London premiere at Sadler’s Wells’ Lilian Baylis Studio

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING debut shows at Glasgow Tramway and NottDance in 2017, dance maker Roberta Jean is bringing her craft inspired dance work Brocade to Sadler’s Wells’ Lilian Baylis Studio for its London premiere – from May 31 to June 1, 2018.

The show will then travel to Findhorn on the Moray Coast (June 8 – 9), and will finish with a week in Edinburgh (August 13 – 17), where it has been selected for the prestigious Made in Scotland showcase during festival season.

Brocade is a poetic response to historical and contemporary notions of craft and physical work. Created in collaboration with, and performed by, an ensemble of female dancers including Stephanie McMann, Laura Dannequin and Helka Kaski, the work also features vocals by Roberta Jean and live music by violinist Angharad Davies.

As the audience sit aside a traverse performance space, bodies skip and skim past. Across the stage, movement and sound are propelled along a catwalk, sewn together by the rhythmic cadence of beats and jumps. Sonic textures resonate with the presence of the women forging alliances. Somewhere between a procession and a concert, the work aims to recreate the precision, strength and delicacy of an intricate piece of lace.

The company has also made a series of films related to the work, including one filmed in the evocative setting of a working lace mill in Ayrshire that first opened in 1900 which will be released in May.

Edinburgh-based director, choreographer dancer and singer Roberta Jean has developed a mindful approach to dance and movement exploration; as well as teaching dance she is a trained yoga teacher. She trained as a dancer at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Ballet and Contemporary, before widening her research field to explore historical and international performance practice, completing an MA in Performance Making at Goldsmiths in 2008.

Speaking about the work, Roberta Jean said: “I wanted to make a work which harmonized the practice of contemporary female performers with contrasting disciplines across music and dance and I wanted to look at dance in relationship to other types of practice where the body is working, making and doing. Brocade frames the presence of the unique performers I’m privileged to work with and weaves our diverse skills as threads to make a whole.”

Since 2012, Roberta Jean has made performance under the company name mysteryskin, often creating work that incorporates strong music or sound design elements and sculptural forms, and often performing in galleries and community spaces as well as more traditional dance spaces. Previous mysteryskin works include Group Hug, a celebration and dismantling of the communal, and Road Postures, inspired by the way people manoeuver themselves in public places, created following research on the streets of London.

Brocade is suitable for ages 10+.

Tickets (for Sadler’s Wells): £17. To book, call the box office on 020 7863 8000 or visit

Time: 8pm.

Running Time: 1 hour.