As a lover of modern dance, I am a frequent visitor to the Sadler’s Wells which is, luckily, one of the most wheelchair accessible venues in London.
I was there again, last night, racing, as ever, against time to make the 7.30pm curtain up on Marie Chouinard – a Montreal-based dance company.
I honestly think I could count on one hand the number of wheelchair accessible venues in London where you might be able to rock up with a minute or two to spare, park in a disabled space, wheel across and make the performance. At the Sadler’s Wells: we did it.
Admittedly, it was a quiet night and a likely-to-be esoteric choice of performance – I guess I’m making the point that on a busier night with a company of better known commercial profile, it might not be quite so easy – but, smiles, result!
I’ve probably said it before but no harm in repeating, the many ways in which the Sadler’s Wells makes visiting such a pleasure for wheelchair users: a friendly Access Scheme and box office who have no problem in dealing with the concept and reality of discounted tickets, a space in their – just to the side – car park (this must be booked ahead as it has coded, barrier entry), level entry everywhere, accessible lifts, disabled toilets, really decent wheelchair/companion spaces/seats (I prefer the stalls but there are spaces at each level) and even nice, wide, relatively level, pavements outside. Bliss.
There are even two disabled parking spaces on the street outside and these made the difference for us last night as we pulled up, parked, unloaded me in a minute (amazing speed!) onto the wide pavement and D legged it to collect the tickets as I was able to safely wheel, fast, along the pavements into the foyer and down the easy-gradient slope to our space/seat.
Gods, I know I’ve laboured it but only other wheelchair users will understand what a treat this kind of physical access is. Almost makes me want to weep in gratitude.
And the performance? Esoterically interesting.
A double bill: the first part an abstract performance piece that seemed very technical and analytical and was a little too long for my liking.
The second piece “Henri Michaux: Mouvements” was inspired by the 64 page, eponymously titled, book of Indian-ink drawings and poetry of artist and writer, Henri Michaux. This was why I’d wanted to come and it didn’t disappoint. A brilliant confluence of book, dance, spoken word and movement. The pages from the book were seen as background brought to life through wonderfully choreographed physical movement, music and voice. Truly inspiring.
If your tastes don’t run to modern dance, just know that Sadler’s Wells put on a wide-ranging programme of all kinds of contemporary dance and performance. Do take a look and don’t hesitate to book if you’re a wheelchair user. It’s all good in terms of access.