Jonathan Glazer

Premiered on BBC Two, UK
20 July 2020 - 30 August 2020

a cathartic spasm of protest for our times ★★★★★ – the Guardian

Jonathan Glazer’s short film STRASBOURG 1518 features nine acclaimed dancers from around the world. Made during a global pandemic against the setting of lockdown, the film directed and conceived by the filmmaker moves beyond the restricted categorisation of a ‘lockdown film’ to explore the connection between history, memory, and movement. 

STRASBOURG 1518 takes its inspiration from an unexplained mania that swept the city of Strasbourg in July 1518. What began with a few people dancing in the summer heat soon became an epidemic that seized the city for three months, with hundreds compelled to dance uncontrollably, arms flailing, and faces turned upwards as if in a trance.

Glazer’s film features performers who seem to share a distant memory of the past as they are thrust forward to the present in ceaseless motion displaying a bodily routine of both exhaustion and excess stimulation. The seamless continuation of movement forms a timely reflection of bodies and souls possessed and connected across and beyond fixed borders of place or time.

With music by Mica Levi, STRASBOURG 1518 presents the dance of life and death as continuous. You will witness a 10-minute fragment of something that began long ago and has no end.

Video: Trailer of STRASBOURG 1518. This video is also available to watch on Vimeo and YouTube

STRASBOURG 1518 premiered to UK viewers on BBC Two at 22:00 BST on Monday 20 July 2020. It is not currently available to stream.

*The title of this film is intentionally given in full upper case letters.


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There is no story. There are no characters. And aside from a tiny snatch of speech that recurs glitchily on the soundtrack, there is no dialogue. What there is is movement, music, mania. – Jessica Kiang, Variety.

Selected Press

This film could as well be called UK 2020 or The World 2020. As an artefact, it brilliantly spoke to my own feelings about the lockdown, with dance being both symptom and cure, both deterioration and therapy, both constriction and freedom. Many people have been exercising in lockdown in precisely this desperate, ambiguous way. – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 20 July 2020.

Aided by a suitably jittery score from Mica Levi, Glazer’s piece gripped from the start as we were introduced to a number of individual dancers all seemingly caught up in the throes of their own ecstatic agony. – Sarah Hughed, iNews, 20 July 2020.

There is no story. There are no characters. And aside from a tiny snatch of speech that recurs glitchily on the soundtrack, there is no dialogue. What there is is movement, music, mania. Bodies bending in bare rooms; wall sockets and whipping hair; angles and elbows and repeated gestures — the washing of hands, the exposing of a belly beneath a bright red top, the perpetual motion machine of a woman slipping off a loose cardigan and sliding back into it. – Jessica Kiang, Variety, 20 July 2020.

The film offers a subtle commentary on the captivity of Covid and the nature of mankind as an irrepressible physical being. It affirms the potential of the human body as a living, breathing work of art in its own right, and stands as a paean to those who are able to master, control and manipulate their bodies in such a highly expressive fashion. – David Jenkins, Little White Lies, 20 July 2020. 

It’s not about the “dancing plague” any more than it is about the Covid-19 pandemic, but both provide a backdrop for something more allusive and haunting, powered by an insistent, eerie score by Glazer’s regular collaborator Mica Levi. – Sarah Crompton, The Observer, 19 July 2020.

About Jonathan Glazer

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Jonathan Glazer

Jonathan Glazer is an artist and filmmaker, best known for three highly distinctive feature films: Sexy Beast (2000), Birth (2004) and Under The Skin (2014). Glazer’s landmark videos for bands such as Radiohead and Jamiroquai and his ground-breaking commercials for clients including Guinness and Nike have won many awards, serving to elevate advertising into an art form. His most recent project as writer and director was The Fall, a six-minute unannounced intervention on BBC 2 during the evening of 27 October 2019.

Artist Jonathan Glazer pictured wearing a khaki coloured coat in front of a shop window with two frames behind.

Image: Jonathan Glazer, courtesy of the artist.


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9 dancers, choreographers, and performers contributed to and starred in STRASBOURG 1518

Listed in alphabetical order, they include Germaine Acogny, Andrey Berezin, Kaori Ito, Ditta Miranda Jasjfi, Jamila Johnson-Small, Nazareth Panadero, Botis Seva, Oleg Stepanov, Tsai-Chin Yu.

Germaine Acogny

Germaine Acogny (born 1944) is a Senegalese dancer and choreographer. She is responsible for developing  Contemporary African Dance in addition to the creation of several dance schools in France and Senegal. She has been recognised by both countries with the titles of Commendeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France and  Knight of the National Order of the Lion. France honoured her with Officier de la Légion d’Honneur 

Germaine and her husband Helmut Vogt set up l’Ecole des Sables (International Center For Traditional And Contemporary African Dances) in Toubab Dialaw/Senegal in 1998 to promote dance in Africa. The Center was created as a space for learning, meeting and exchange for dancers from both Africa and across the world. The teachings of Germaine are based on her African Modern Dance technique which forms a synthesis of Traditional Dances from West Africa (Sahel and forest area) and Contemporary Western Dances. Since 1968, Germaine has led the development of Contemporary African Dance on the continent. She is since considered the Mother of African Contemporary Dance, with a technique comparable to western techniques.


Image: Germaine Acogny. Photograph: Jean Lebreton.

Andrey Berezin

Andrey Berezin (born in Russia) has been dancing with Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch  since 1994.


Image: Andrey Berezin. Photograph: Chausov Evgeny.

Kaori Ito

Kaori Ito (born 1979) is a Japanese dancer and choreographer active in France. Since the age of five, Kaori has studied classical ballet under Takagi Syuntoku in Tokyo, and at eighteen was declared by Ryouichi Enomoto as the best young dancer and choreographer. She is the founder of the dance company Hime and has performed for Philippe Decouflé, Angelin Preljocaj, Alain Platel, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and James Thierrée before embarking on her own choreographic adventure through collaborations with Aurélien Bory, Olivier Martin Salvan. 

Steeped in Japanese culture and trained in Western dance, Kaori has developed a hybrid and unique vocabulary that resembles herself. At the crossroads of cultures and languages, she is interested in the unspoken and invisible. Her close proximity to theater dance allows her practice to reflect both her own experiences and that of others. Kaori’s practice draws upon themes such as taboos, the end of the world, death, love, and loneliness; which are vocalised in her productions to inspire the movements that she seeks to see in dance.

Ditta Miranda Jasjfi

Ditta Miranda Jasjfi (born in Jakarta, Indonesia) began classical ballet in Paris at the age of five. Moving back to Indonesia she continued training in ballet with Farida Oetoyo whilst studying Indonesian traditional dances from Bali, West, Mid and East-Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Jaipong from different teachers. In 1989 Ditta studied modern dance in Folkwang Hochschule, in Essen, Germany, after which she began dancing for the Folkwang TanzStudio in 1993. The following year Ditta worked in Bremer Theater with artistic director Susanne Linke and Urs Dietrich and since 2000 has been dancing with Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.


image: Ditta Miranda Jasjfi. Photograph: Claudia Kempf.

Jamila Johnson-Small

Jamila Johnson-Small is a London born and based artist and dancer producing work under the name Last Yearz Interesting Negro since 2015. Their practice can be defined as relational; moving across spaces, contexts, roles, and collaborations. Resultant choreographies that have been staged work through questions of entanglement, alienation, and sensation.


Image: Jamilla Johnson Small. Photograph: Amy Gwatkin.

Nazareth Panadero

Nazareth Panadero (born 1955) is a dancer from Madrid, Spain. After graduating in classical dance in Spain, Nazareth was trained in modern dance with Peter Goss in Paris, dancing in the Ballet Théatre Contemporain d’Angers between 1976-8 and Ballet De Poche (Paris-Grenoble) in 1979. Since 1979 she has been a permanent member of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, dancing in productions by Pina Bausch in addition to those produced by guest choreographers including Tim Etchells ( artistic director: Lutz Förster ) and Alain Lucien Øyen ( artistic director: Adolphe Binder ). Nazareth has won numerous awards between 2000-2019, been featured in films including Hable con ella by director Pedro Almodovar, and has created his own works.


Image: Nazareth Panadero. Photograph: Donata Wenders.

Botis Seva

Botis Seva (born 1991) is a South London based dancer and Choreographer from Dagenham, East London. He was introduced to dance aged 15 through Hip Hop dance theatre experimentalist Tony Adigun, from Avant Garde Dance, which he went on to dance for. After leaving college in 2009, Botis established Far From The Norm, with an interest in experimenting with hip-hop whilst challenging conventions within dance and theatre. He was awarded the Bonnie Bird Choreography Fund in 2015, and having two sold-out nights at Sadler’s Wells, Botis’ career was catapulted forward. 

He has since gone on to win competitions and awards in the UK and Europe and following his contribution to the Sadler’s Wells 20th anniversary commission Reckonings, was awarded an Olivier for Best New Dance Production for BLKDOG in April 2019. Botis has choreographed broadcast productions, including Studio Wayne McGregor and Robin Friend’s ‘Winged Bull in the Elephant Case’ for BBC2, and since 2019 has been guest director and choreographer at the National Youth Dance Company and NSCD’s Verve respectively.

Oleg Stepanov

Oleg Stepanov (born 1983) is a dancer, artist, and choreographer from the Urals (an industrial region in the east of Russia). He studied for five years at the Ural State University before going on to work in a steel plant. Aged 23 he began taking dance classes and workshops in classical and contemporary dance and in 2009 joined the Provincial Dancers Theater in Ekaterinburg where he worked with Tatiana Baganova and assisted her in creating ‘Rite of Spring’ at the Bolshoi Theatre. In 2013 Stepanov joined Gothenburg Opera Danskompani in Sweden where he worked with artists such as Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Alan Lucien Oyen, Saburo Teshigawara, Adolphe Binder, Uri Ivgi & Johan Greben, Constanza Macras, Anton Lacky, Hiroaki Umeda.

Since 2016 Oleg has been a permanent member of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch and has actively engaged in productions by Pina Bausch, whilst simultaneously creating his own stage and video productions in collaboration with other artists, in addition producing his own music.


Image: Oleg Stepanov. Photograph: Lydia Gorges.

Tsai-Chin Yu

Tsai-Chin Yu (born 1980) is from Taiwan and graduated from the dance department of Taipei National University of Arts in 2003. Following further studies at Folkwang Hochschule, Essen in Germany she took on the role of a guest dancer in ‘The Rite of the Spring’ for Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in 2006. Since 2008 Tsai-Chin has been an official member of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.



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Who made this possible?


Strasbourg 1518 was Devised & Directed by Jonathan Glazer. With Music by Mica Levi.

The short film was Co-commissioned by Artangel and Sadler’s Wells, and produced by Academy Films for BBC Films and BBC Arts.

Artangel is generously supported using public funding by Arts Council England, and by the private patronage of The Artangel International CircleSpecial Angels and The Company of Angels. 




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Image: STRASBOURG 1518 still. Courtesy of Jonathan Glazer.