Guiding principles

Sadler’s Wells is a world-leading dancehouse, presenting a year-round programme of dance of every kind to audiences of over 500.000 in London each year. It also commissions and produces original work and tours it to arts venues in the UK and overseas to annual audiences of over 120.000. Since 2005, it has helped to bring over 100 new dance works to the stage. Sadler’s Wells supports 16 Associate Artists, 3 Resident Companies, 1 Associate Company and 2 International Associate Companies. It also nurtures the next generation of talent through its New Wave Associates.

Its goal is to grow the public’s enjoyment and understanding of dance by making dance relevant, meaningful and enriching. At the same time it seeks to develop the art form by supporting artists and the creation of exciting new work.


Sadler’s Wells was not born of an artistic impulse but the discovery of a mineral spring in 1683. Richard Sadler built a music house around the spring to rival the fashionable Tunbridge and Epsom wells. Visitors to Sadler’s Wells could see entertainments that included jugglers, tumblers, ropedancers, ballad singers, wrestlers, fighters, dancing dogs and even a singing duck. In 1765 Thomas Rosman had the theatre rebuilt to mount high-calibre opera productions. However the theatre sank into the doldrums and closed its doors in 1915. In 1925, Lilian Baylis began fundraising to rebuild Sadler’s Wells so that the people of north London could enjoy the same opportunities as those in the south. With the help of Ninette de Valois, she dedicated Sadler’s Wells to opera and ballet. Ian Albery took over as chief executive in 1994 and led a 2-year rebuild campaign.

The theatre reopened in October 1998 with a design that still incorporates the skeleton of Frank Matcham’s 1931 theatre, which in turn contained bricks from the Victorian playhouse. However, the theatre once again struggled to find its voice and its audience. Alistair Spalding took up the challenge in 2004 and increased the number of Associate Artists. Today Sadler’s Wells not only promotes but also commissions and produces outstanding dance.

Building and facilities

The main theatre in Islington opened in 1998, after a major fundraising programme, supported by Lottery funding. Sadler’s Wells presents large-scale work by national and international companies in this 1.500-seat theatre.

The Lilian Baylis Studio, part of the Rosebery Avenue site, seats 180 and presents a programme of small-scale, studio work by established artists, experimental, conceptual work, high quality productions for young audiences and work by young artists and emerging choreographers.

The Peacock Theatre in Holborn is the West End home where popular dance styles from cultures around the globe are presented, including tango, salsa, samba, flamenco and hip hop as well as related forms such as circus and physical theatre.

Rosebery Avenue
United Kingdom

International Dance Day at EDN

29 April 2020

EDN members celebrate IDD

On April 29, the EDN members celebrate the International Dance Day online - check what they have put together for you!


Dancehouses in May and June

May - June 2020

Join EDN members remotely

While many EDN members are still closed for public, activities continue to take place remotely - both for artists and audiences! We bring to you plenty of shows, trainings, celebrations, reflections. Take your peak!


EDN announces Forum ‘Dance and its audience’

12 October 2021

Online Forum co-organized by The Place & Sadler’s Wells

The online forum co-organized by EDN and The Place & Sadler's Wells will invite artists, producers, promoters, and other dance professionals from all over Europe for online discussions. 

Activities EDN

Encounter Japan

In February 2017 a group of eight representatives of EDN attended a very rich programme of initiatives, participated in speed networking sessions with artists and professionals, developing new connections and dialogues, being introduced to representatives of Asian funding bodies and supportive organizations. This was the first step in the collaboraiton with AND+.

Roberto Casarotto shares his report of the meetings.

Summary list

Building a dancehouse

Many dancehouses in Europe have been created over preexisting buildings: convents, factories, industrial sites, brick houses, distilleries, to name some examples. This Atelier at CSC Bassano del Grappa took place in a series of meetings aimed at considering and tracing the European, as well as the international, dancehouses history.

Summary list

The lonely dance of leadership

Leaders have ultimate responsibility for everything. They set the vision and direction of travel, inspire and nurture others, and make decisions that cannot always be popular. Other people may offer advice and opinions, but in the end it is up to the leader to juggle different demands, make sense of diverse views and shape the future. Leadership is a lonely dance.

Summary list

Are you here? Dance and its audience

The online forum co-organized by EDN and The Place & Sadler's Wells invited artists, producers, promoters, and other dance professionals from all over Europe for online discussions.

Summary list