Follow Us on Twitter

Nico Muhly: Drawn Lines at Sadler's Wells

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THIRD in Sadler’s Wells’ Composer Series is prolific contemporary composer Nico Muhly. This new one-off triple bill is led by the music of Muhly, played live by Britten Sinfonia. Choreography comes from Sadler’s Wells New Wave Associate Julie Cunningham, Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Michael Keegan-Dolan and New York City Ballet Resident Choreographer Justin Peck.

The production, Drawn Lines, receives its world premiere at Sadler’s Wells on Thursday, March 19, 2020 and all three performances (also March 20 and 21) are conducted live by Muhly.

Sadler’s Wells’ Composer Series was launched to challenge choreographers to respond to the music of living composers by making new work, designed to enable collaboration between leading lights in the world of music and dance, and to exchange ideas.

Nico Muhly follows acclaimed programmes inspired by the music of Mark-Anthony Turnage in 2011 and Thomas Adès in 2014.

One of today’s most sought-after composers, Muhly is the recipient of commissions from The Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and others. To date, he has written more than 80 significant works as well as various other arrangements and orchestrations.

The composition from Muhly interpreted by Michael Keegan-Dolan is dark folk-song arrangement The Only Tune based on murder ballad The Two Sisters, sung live by folk artist Sam Amidon. Keegan-Dolan founded his acclaimed company Teaċ Daṁsa shortly after the closure of his award-winning company Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre.

Teaċ Daṁsa forges deeper connections with the traditions, language and the music of Ireland and its first production, Swan Lake/Loch na hEala, co-produced by Sadler’s Wells, won the Irish Times Theatre Award in 2017 for Best New Production and the The UK Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Best Production (2018).

Julie Cunningham selects Drones, a reflection on the subtle and constant noise in most dwelling places. Cunningham is an award-winning dance artist, formerly with Merce Cunningham Dance Company and Michael Clark Company and performing in projects with Jerome Bel and Boris Charmatz. Their work often explores gender and identity, in the body and its emotional states, often working between movement and text from sources ranging from popular culture to literature.

Cunningham made up one third of Sadler’s Wells’ special 20th anniversary commission, Reckonings, in October 2018.

A new composition by Muhly, commissioned by New York City Ballet, accompanies New York City Ballet’s (NYCB) Resident Choreographer Justin Peck’s work. Created for 12 dancers from NYCB, the piece marks the company’s first performances in London since 2008. In 2018, Peck received the National Arts Award, the Tony Award for his choreography in the Broadway revival of Carousel and the Golden Plate Honor from the Academy of Achievement in 2019.

Sadler’s Wells’ Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding, said: “I am delighted to be presenting the world premiere of the third work in our composer series, focusing on the work of leading contemporary composers. I commissioned our New Wave Associate Julie Cunningham, our Associate Artist Michael Keegan-Dolan and American dance maker Justin Peck to create new work on the music of New York-based Nico Muhly. I am excited to see how each choreographer responds to the music and reveals its qualities through dance.”

Muhly and Peck’s work for NYCB premieres in New York on February 26, 2020.

Michael Keegan-Dolan’s Teaċ Daṁsa presents the UK premiere of its newest production MÁM from February 5 – 7, 2020, at Sadler’s Wells.

Tickets: £15 – £65. To book, call the ticket office on 020 7863 8000 or visit

Time: 7:30pm.