BLKDOG: The story behind the award

BLKDOG won an Olivier award for Best New Dance Production in 2019, but what comes with perceived success...

By Far From The Norm

BLKDOG at Reckonings by Johan PerrsonFar From The Norm

Botis Seva's BLKDOG at Reckonings

Sadler’s Wells Reckonings was an eclectic showcase for new work, marking the 20th anniversary of the theatre’s current building. As part of Reckoning's Botis Seva was invited to present an excerpt of BLKDOG.

BLKDOG at Reckonings by Johan PerrsonFar From The Norm

BLKDOG is Botis Seva’s beautifully brutal commentary on how the youth of today are coping in a world not built for them. 

In an emotionally charged Hip Hop dance performance, BLKDOG reveals the vicious connection of how self-discovery leads to self-destruction. 

SWreckProd2018JP_02219Far From The Norm

BLKDOG was received by three consecutive nights of standing ovations and to undeniable critical and public acclaim. 

In October 2018, Botis' career catapulted forward when the curtain closed on BLKDOG for the last evening. 

Photo credit: Johan Perrson

Watch an intimate insight into Botis Seva's rehearsal process developing BLKDOG for Sadler's Wells Reckonings.


The Stage

BLKDOG - OlivierFar From The Norm

In early 2019, a friend contacted Botis and broke the news he had been nominated for an Olivier award. 

Botis Seva's BLKDOG was up against prestigious and renown contemporary companies & artists including Ballet British Columbia, William Forsythe and Alastair Marriott.

Botis wins an Olivier award for BLKDOG!

In an unexpected turn of events, Botis Seva becomes the first Hip Hop dance theatre artist to ever win the category of Best New Dance Production.

All the newspapers & industry critics had earmarked other nominees to win; overnight Botis became a prolific underdog.

Far From The Norm rehearsals by Camilla GreenwellFar From The Norm

Rehearsal photography by Camilla Greenwell

However overnight the pressure set in, Botis won an Olivier award for a 25 minute production, how was he suppose to finish the production with this pressure on his shoulders?

Two months later, Botis was back in rehearsals developing the full BLKDOG production.

BLKDOG at Sadler's Wells, Jordan Douglas by Camilla GreenwellFar From The Norm

It became evident that half of the sector wanted Botis to succeed and the other half wanted him to fail. 

Botis, with the support of his powerhouse company Far From The Norm and creative collaborators, rose above the pressure to develop the full length BLKDOG.

Victoria Shulungu by Camilla GreenwellFar From The Norm

The process was lonely, overwhelming and physically draining. However, Botis' faith in BLKDOG never flailed. 

With support from Sadler's Wells, Norrlandsoperan & Arts Council England, Botis refined & developed a production he was proud of: a 60 minute captivating experience.

BLKDOG at Sadler's Wells, Joshua Nash by Camilla GreenwellFar From The Norm

BLKDOG developed from Botis' life changing experience of becoming a father in 2017 and the absence of his own father growing up. This unravelled into a commentary of youth coping mechanisms and the collective Black British perspective of growing up in today's British society. 


“Visceral, breathtakingly moving and movingly impressive, ‘BLKDOG’ ushers in a whole new necessary genre and era of dance.”
Lucy Writer's Platform 

Watch the BLKDOG trailer

South London-born, Botis Seva is one of those rare artists - Basquiat springs to mind - whose innate and largely unmentored talent emerged from experience and was nurtured on the street. 

BLKDOG in Production at Laban Theatre by Camilla GreenwellFar From The Norm

BLKDOG Photography by Camilla Greenwell

In collaboration with his Hip Hop company Far From The Norm, Botis had built national & international interest in BLKDOG. 

In Spring 2020, BLKDOG embarked on its first UK touring period. However, after 4 performances in the UK, the COVID-19 pandemic hit & the tour was cancelled!

BLKDOG in Production at Laban Theatre by Camilla GreenwellFar From The Norm

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was hard to bring the BLKDOG cast and team together to rebuild. So, BLKDOG was left on pause until it was safe to return back to the studio and stage. 

During the course of the pandemic, BLKDOG started to take on a new meaning...

BLKDOG in Production at Laban Theatre by Camilla GreenwellFar From The Norm

In the summer of 2020, George Floyd was murdered in police custody in Minneapolis and it sparked the rampage of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

BLKDOG started to crystallise and take on new meaning in the wake of the continued persecution of young Black men across the world

BLKDOG in Production at Laban Theatre by Camilla GreenwellFar From The Norm

Botis was finally able to safely return to the studio as the UK lockdown eased & he was filled with new social injustices that he wanted to weave into the BLKDOG.

The distance from the production & the pressures of creating a successful show gave Botis a new perspective.

BLKDOG in Production at Laban Theatre by Camilla GreenwellFar From The Norm

BLKDOG was developed into its final iteration and from July 2021 BLKDOG went back out on the road to audiences across the UK & internationally. 


Credits: Story

Choreographer - Botis Seva
Creative Producer - Lee Griffiths
Music Composer - Torben Lars Sylvest
Lighting Designer - Tom Visser
Costume Designer - Ryan Dawson Laight
Dancers, Far From The Norm - Victoria Shulungu, Hayleigh Sellors, Jordan Douglas, Joshua Nash, Shangomola Edunjobi, Ezra Owen, Naïma Souhaïr

BLKDOG is co-produced by Far From The Norm and Sadler’s Wells and supported using public funding through Arts Council England. The creation of BLKDOG was also supported by Kingston University, Laban Theatre, Siobhan Davies Dance and UEL Dance: Urban Practice Department

Photography by Camilla Greenwell, films by Ben Williams.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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