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The amazing dancing twins: 'Even when we improvise, we do the same thing!'

Guardian Olympics News 06 May 2019 07:00
‘I trust her 100%’ … Kristina, top, with Sadé. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

In the summer of 2012, Kristina and Sadé Alleyne’s Olympic dream came true. It just wasn’t the dream they’d imagined. As teen athletes, they’d had their eyes on the 100m sprint. By the time 2012 rolled around, they made it to the Olympic stadium all right – but as dancers in the opening ceremony, performing with choreographer Akram Khan to the sound of Emeli Sandé singing Abide With Me.

It was an unexpected swerve for the London twins – but that night in the stadium convinced them they’d done the right thing. “We’d made the decision on instinct,” says Kristina, “and the fact that we made it to the Olympics through dance, it showed us...” Sadé picks up: “… we were meant to be there.”

Their background in athletics has turned the identical twins into powerhouse dancers, with all that fast-twitch, straight-out-of-the-blocks combustion that sprinters have. They’re two of the most striking dancers you can currently see, bursting with dynamism and guillotine-sharp precision. On stage, they’re absolutely fearless, their movement encompassing the energetic force of hip-hop, the detail and rhythm of kathak, and the earthy weight and sinuous curves of African dance.

The pair ended up going to the Brit school in Croydon, and then discovering hip-hop with east London company Boy Blue. It was a shift in priorities and, while they had fitness and strength, they were lacking many dancers’ qualities. “We were so ungraceful,” laughs Kristina. “When we started dance we said, ‘Are we really going to try to make this a career? I can’t even touch the floor!’ We had to change our bodies a lot.”

They don’t always think the same way, they insist, but often they do. “I won’t even have to finish my sentence,” says Sadé, “but it’s annoying because I would like to finish my sentence.”

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KristinaSadSad AlleyneSadAkram Khan