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Layla and Majnun - Sadler's Wells

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CREATED by the American choreographer Mark Morris, produced by Mark Morris Dance Group, in collaboration with the Silkroad Ensemble – the musical collective founded by Yo-Yo Ma – and the esteemed British artist Howard Hodgkin, Layla and Majnun makes its UK debut from Tuesday, November 13 to Saturday, November 17, 2018 at Sadler’s Wells.

Layla and Majnun is also a Sadler’s Wells 20th Anniversary Commission.

Madness and mysticism intertwine with the idea of eternal love as the would-be lovers Layla and Majnun are represented by dancers at different stages of their tragic lives.

Sixteen dancers interpret the narrative, tailoring their movements to profound, improvised music, sung in the style of mugham by the celebrated father and daughter vocalists Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova. Silkroad musicians also perform live on stage with traditional Asian instruments playing in harmony with Western strings and percussion.

The ancient story of Layla and Majnun itself is a cornerstone of Middle Eastern folklore, a tragedy believed to have originated in Arabia in the 7th century and most notably depicted expressed by the poets Nizami Ganjavi in the 12th century and Muhammad Fuzuli, of Majnun (meaning “possessed”), in love with Layla from childhood, but driven mad over the unobtainable nature of his love.

Morris’ production is based on Uzeyir Hajibeyli’s 1908 Azerbaijani opera portraying the classic story. This will be the first time that an adaptation of Layla and Majnun on this scale has been presented in the UK.

The production features costume and set design by Howard Hodgkin, including a section from Love and Death (2015), lighting design by James F. Ingalls, and musical arrangement by Colin Jacobsen and Johnny Gandelsman.

There will be a free pre-show talk with scholar, musicologist and author Dr. Aida Huseynova, for the production on Wednesday, November 14 at 6:30pm.

Tickets: £12 – £45. To book, call the box office on 020 7863 8000 or visit

Time: 7:30pm.

For more information, visit

Also at Sadler’s Wells: the world premiere of A Quiet Evening of Dance (October 4 to October 6) and Darbar Festival (November 23 to November 25, 2018).