Musical theatre and classical music producer Raymond Gubbay is collaborating with the team at Sadler’s Wells on a new annual five-week spring dance season starting next year at the London Coliseum (temporarily vacated by English National Opera) that will see New York City Ballet return to the West End after a 24-year absence.

Alongside NYCB the organisers, including arts agency Askonas Holt, have scheduled performances from Germany’s Stuttgart Ballet (in London for the first time in 26 years), Carlos Acosta with friends from the Royal Ballet, and Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant whose contemporary piece Push has already played three sold-out seasons at Sadler’s Wells.

Gubbay – whose musical theatre producing credits include Show Boat, Follies, On Your Toes and the upcoming Carmen Jones, which will form part of the Royal Festival Hall’s reopening season this June (See News, 6 Mar 2007) - told that Spring Dance at the London Coliseum was a chance to bring varied and quality dance repertoire to West End audiences.

“Companies like New York City Ballet are expensive to bring over and need a venue larger than Sadler’s Wells to accommodate them,” Gubbay said. “The Coliseum is an attractive venue in an attractive location that attracts people already in town, and our message is big and bold: come and see the most exceptional dance from around the world.”

Gubbay said the five-year contract with English National Opera would provide future opportunities to bring other world-renowned companies such as Paris Opera Ballet and American Ballet Theatre (which appeared at Sadler's earlier this year) to the Coliseum. As part of a wide-ranging producing career, in 2004 Gubbay launched an ambitious scheme to popularise opera by presenting a year-round repertory programme at the West End’s Savoy Theatre. However, despite a good critical reception, the company closed in a matter of weeks due to poor ticket sales (See News, 7 May 2004).

During the annual spring dance season at the London Coliseum, ENO will relocate to the Young Vic, where it will produce medium-scale contemporary work in the theatre's flexible space (See News, 23 Apr 2007).

Tickets for the 2008 dance season go on sale next Tuesday (8 May 2007). NYCB will present four programmes from 12 to 22 March 2008, Stuttgart's Romeo and Juliet plays 25 to 30 March, and Carlos Acosta with Guests runs 1 to 6 April followed by Push from 8 to 12 April.

- by Malcolm Rock