Sadler’s Wells and Uni­ver­sal Music UK today announce the cast and cre­at­ive team for Mes­sage In A Bottle, a new dance theatre pro­duc­tion by Sadler’s Wells Asso­ci­ate Artist Kate Prince, set to the music of 17-time Grammy Award-win­ning artist Sting.

 Mes­sage In A Bottle receives its world première at Sadler’s Wells’ West End theatre, The Pea­cock, from Thursday 6 Feb­ru­ary — Sat­urday 21 March 2020, fol­lowed by a UK and inter­na­tion­al tour. Grav­ity-defy­ing lyr­ic­al hip hop dance and breath-tak­ing music com­bine in an uplift­ing story of human­ity and hope. This is the first time Sadler’s Wells and Uni­ver­sal Music have col­lab­or­ated to pro­duce a show.

Mes­sage In A Bottle sees a vil­lage alive with joy­ous cel­eb­ra­tions sud­denly come under siege. In the chaos, three sib­lings, Leto, Mati and Tana are sep­ar­ated from their par­ents; they under­take a per­il­ous jour­ney to new lands and set out on their own extraordin­ary adven­tures. Songs include Every Breath You TakeRox­anneEvery Little Thing She Does Is MagicWalk­ing On The MoonEng­lish­man in New YorkShape of My Heart and Fields of Gold.

 The pro­duc­tion fea­tures excep­tion­al dan­cers from ZooN­a­tion: The Kate Prince Com­pany, who come from all over the UK and from Mex­ico, Canada, Aus­tralia, Japan, Sweden and Hol­land. In fea­tured roles are Lukas McFar­lane as Leto – win­ner of Sky 1’s Got to Dance (2013); Tommy Fran­zen as Mati – BBC One’s So You Think You Can Dance (2010) and the Tom Hoop­er-dir­ec­ted CATS, in cinemas winter 2019; and Nata­sha Gooden – Blak Whyte Gray (Boy Blue) and Strictly Come Dan­cing – as Tana. 

We speak exclus­ively to Tommy Frazen about his role in the highly anti­cip­ated pro­duc­tion.

How did you first get into dance?

A guy called Dav­id John­son from Cali­for­nia opened a dance school in Sweden and my sis­ter Elena was tak­ing classes there. One day I was watch­ing them both in a rehears­al for a show and I was caught copy­ing them doing the robot. It was the first time I had seen any kind of hip hop dance and it must’ve struck a chord with me. Dav­id sug­ges­ted that day that maybe I should try out a class. In the first class I was freaked out about how exposed I felt stand­ing in front of the mir­rors think­ing how bad a looked. I told my dad and Elena that I nev­er wanted to go back again and, with their shocked faces, they said that I was the best one in the class. Appar­ently, that’s all I needed to change my mind and I nev­er looked back again.

What is your role in Mes­sage In A Bottle?

I’m an Assist­ant Cho­reo­graph­er along­side Liz­zie Gough and also play­ing the role of Mati.

How do you switch from cho­reo­graph­ing to per­form­ing?

In some rehears­al ses­sions I’m mainly con­cen­trat­ing on my role, but in some I’m help­ing Kate with a par­tic­u­lar part of cho­reo­graphy for anoth­er char­ac­ter or for a group sec­tion. When I’m mak­ing up a solo bit for myself, I always need to feel what the move­ment feels like before I judge how it looks. If I’m cho­reo­graph­ing on oth­er people, I often have to cho­reo­graph it in third per­son in my head so I’m look­ing at it from the front.

Can you give us some insight into Kate Prince’s cho­reo­graph­ic pro­cess of cre­at­ing hip hop dance theatre to Sting’s music? 

This show is a real mix of hip hop dance styles and con­tem­por­ary. Kate has writ­ten a story that util­ises a lot of Sting’s songs and weaves them effect­ively into the nar­rat­ive. There is a lot of nar­rat­ive in the cho­reo­graphy as well, without sac­ri­fi­cing mak­ing it impress­ive, beau­ti­ful and impact­ful. The way Kate has man­aged to marry hip hop dance styles to Sting’s music is beau­ti­ful.

Who’s your favour­ite hip hop artist and why?

This is a dif­fi­cult one. I love funk music and I like a lot of old school artists. Out of the cur­rent artists I’d say Bruno Mars, as he is an ulti­mate per­former. My favour­ites songs of his are the ones with an old school sound.

What can we expect to see and feel as an audi­ence in Mes­sage In A Bottle?

It will be a roller­coast­er of emo­tions, from hap­pi­ness and joy to com­pas­sion. You might fight back a few tears, but you can expect to feel joy­ful by the finale.

Visu­ally, the show will be both beau­ti­ful and impress­ive. Expect dan­cing to a world class level in both hip hop dance and con­tem­por­ary. The tal­ent of both dan­cers and cre­at­ive team is amaz­ing and it will def­in­itely be a show to remem­ber for a long time.

What’s next for you?

After this I’m tak­ing a bit of time off to train, par­tic­u­larly in act­ing and singing. There are a few pro­jects lurk­ing about in 2020 and 2021, but noth­ing con­firmed as of yet. Hope­fully I’ll be cho­reo­graph­ing on Strictly again next year. I rarely know this far in advance what I’m doing next.

Tour Dates

 6 Feb­ru­ary — 21 March 2020 — The Pea­cock, Lon­don

26 — 28 March — Theatre de la Ville Lux­em­bourg

1 — 4 April — The Lowry, Salford

7 — 11 April — Birm­ing­ham Hip­po­drome

Click here for tick­ets 


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Valerie Ebuwa

Valer­ie “wing girl” Ebuwa is a freel­ance dance artist and yoga teach­er from East Lon­don. She is cur­rently dan­cing for 3 con­tem­por­ary dance com­pan­ies and is one of the found­ing mem­bers of Eclectics Dance and CEO of Hip Hop House.

About Valerie Ebuwa

Valerie "wing girl" Ebuwa is a freelance dance artist and yoga teacher from East London. She is currently dancing for 3 contemporary dance companies and is one of the founding members of Eclectics Dance and CEO of Hip Hop House.