Antony Gormley brings more than three tonnes of clay to the London stage
Gormley is best known for the towering Angel Of The North.
Dancers will grapple with more than three tonnes of clay in a new work, co-created by sculptor Antony Gormley, on the London stage.
Artist Gormley, best known for the towering Angel Of The North, came up with the idea of using clay for the set of Icon.
The piece will be shown at Sadler’s Wells, as part a programme to mark the London theatre’s 20th anniversary year.
Icon is co-created with choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and “explores concepts of iconoclasm”.
Previous dance works have brought earth and even carnations to the stage, but clay could be a first.
Sadler’s Wells artistic director and chief executive Alistair Spalding said: “The dancers manipulate clay through the performance in very imaginative ways.”
He admitted: “It is quite a challenge for the technical team.”
And he told the Press Association: “Clay is clay. If they have another performance they have to clean it and get it ready for the next night.
“It’s definitely messier than usual for the dancers and so the showers are very important on those occasions.”
He said that Gormley had been using clay “more and more in his own practice and so has brought it into the stage work that he’s doing.
“Although it’s challenging, it is a chance to actually physically manipulate material with performance.
“Instead of just having a backdrop, they actually create their own sculptures. So the dancers become creators and create all these images including fantastic masks.
“They’re creating different little sculptures during the performance and some of them they wear.”
As well as the UK premiere of Icon, other works announced include Layla And Majnun, which the painter Howard Hodgkin worked on before his death last year.
And choreographer and dancer Akram Khan will make his final solo performance in a full-length work, in XENOS, which tells the story of an Indian colonial soldier in the First World War.
Khan said: “It’s a very difficult moment for any dancer whose voice predominantly is their body. It’s a real transition for me but I’m tired of my body nagging at me.”
The year ends with Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, at Christmas, with a “fresh new look for the 21st Century.”