Hooked on London – Sarah Daley


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It’s week one of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s UK tour and the dancers have been let loose on London town. We asked Ailey dancer Sarah Daley to give us a run down of her first day in the city…

I love London! This has been playing on repeat in my head since we touched down late Sunday night. After dropping our bags off at the hotel, it was necessary to find sustenance and get some fresh air so I headed out with a couple of friends. Quickly learning that options are limited late at night, we popped into one of the many kebab/chicken spots, got some pretty delicious food, and made friends with owners. Next stop, the deli/wine shop that was still open, (thank goodness!) and we were on our way. We walked around a bit before heading back to the hotel, taking in the quiet empty streets of London and laughing at how every kebab spot we passed was full of different groupings of our colleagues, happily chatting up the owners. Finally it was time to call it a night… by this time, I was already hooked on London and ready to spend the next day getting lost.

In the morning I met up with my ride or die, Renaldo, we’ve known each other since Ailey II and always explore new places together. It’s amazing when co-workers can turn out to be lifelong friends. We hit the town in search of some groceries and then some adventure. Most of us in the company like to stock up on healthy snacks and raw foods to keep us going throughout the day, it’s comforting to not have to rely completely on restaurants for all meals. Everyone in the company is very conscious about what they put in their bodies, we just have to get creative on tour… some people are very accomplished hotel/theatre cooks and it’s amazing the meals they can produce from a hotplate! Monday was a bit of a grey day, drizzling off and on and a little overcast, perfect for some lazy sightseeing.

Renaldo and I walked to The British Museum and spent a while strolling through the exhibits, marvelling at the achievements of mankind all over the globe. The African history and contemporary art exhibit was by far our favorite, everything on display was multi-functional or made from re-purposed materials, and it was all so beautiful, from the hunting gear to the intricate clay pots to paintings by contemporary artists. With the history nerd in me satisfied, we found a great tapas place to eat, have some drinks and rest after a lot of walking.

The day of opening night is always a busy one. Full of rehearsals and press dress techs, it was as if there was a performance before the performance! Being in a new theater is always exciting, and it was especially so for me this week because I’ve never been to Sadler’s Wells. I love the hustle and bustle of everyone getting ready…crew, physical therapists, dancers, directors, everyone is busy doing something; rigging lights, checking sound, steaming costumes, finding quiet corners to sit and take a breath and getting to know the local crew. We’ll be at Sadler’s Wells for two weeks, so the Ailey Company was in full move in mode! The performance was great and the audience wonderful and gracious, on their feet and clapping along during the encore of the last section of the Mr. Ailey’s masterpiece, Revelations. No matter how long the day was, the exchange between audience and company, when the fourth wall disappears, is so rewarding. I think about what our late technical director, EJ, always said…’got nothing to complain about, we’ve got the best job in the world! where else do you have 2,000 people applauding your work at the end of the night?!’ That moment is always a humbling one.

Sarah Daley: a dancer for Alvin Ailey, Sarah was a member of Ailey II and joined the Company in 2011.