Notice: Undefined index: uri in /homepages/23/d179056863/htdocs/ssco/blog/blog.php on line 449

Introducing our newest member of the team - 

Creative Intern Simi Sabri



Hi! My name is Simi and I am Sonia Sabri’s daughter as well as her student. I’ve been learning from my mum since I was 15. Most dancers’ children would learn from their parents since the day they were born. But no. I decided to be a little stubborn and refused to learn from my mum.
I’m glad my mum hadn’t forced me into learning Kathak when I hadn’t had the interest at the time as I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much as I do now. 

During one of our Kathak classes, my mum had announced that Sonia Sabri Company had been requested to perform at the Birmingham Hippodrome Gala event. This was to celebrate their 120thbirthday onthe 29thJune. She had then given us several dates for our rehearsals. 


At the first few rehearsals, it was difficult to have all our dancers available to practice. This was because some dancers were on call for work or not available for that particular date. My mum did not let this affect her rehearsals. In fact, she altered the dance routine with small changes. It made it easier to pick up the movements for the other dancers that were not able to join in time.


Most of my friends would ask, “Isn't learning from your mom awkward?” I can honestly say it isn’t at all. My mum and I are close, and we do spend time together, so it’s not weird, or awkward learning Kathak from her. Also, if I'm stuck on a piece, or I do not remember a part of a sequence, my mum is there to help! 

My mum makes the classes fun, and you look forward to learning new dance pieces from her. She would sometimes ask me for any new songs that we can dance to. This would usually be for upcoming festivals or for our Classical Bollywood classes. It is nice giving ideas for a new dance piece. I have helped my mum with costume ideas, set designs, or where dances would take place for potential venues.

During the last rehearsals at the Hippodrome, we had a walk-through of our dance routine. It began on the second floor, down the stairs, towards the audience on the first floor, and onto the stage.
Our first time on the route was challenging for the dancers and me. We were not sure how to get into position in some areas. It seemed puzzling to dance down the stairs, as Punjabi dance is very energetic and spread out. Yet, my mum made sure our choreography was easy to travel around the space.


We were not able to rehearse with the drums (dhol) at the time, but we managed to create the rhythm with sounds of claps and bouncing feet. The rehearsal went well but it was demanding as we had a lot of space to cover.

On the rehearsal the day before the Gala event, we were finally able to rehearse with the dhol drums. Rehearsing with the dhol lifted all our moods, and planted smiles on our faces. It allowed us to submerge ourselves into the rhythms and control our movements.

The staff were mesmerized by the rehearsal and could not help but watch. It was entertaining to see my mum trying to point out any mistakes in the dancers, “Stretch your arms!” my mum tried to shout over the drums so we could hear her. I tried to work out what she was trying to say but I only heard muffled noises. Though judging by the tone of her voice, I knew someone was doing something wrong. 

After a long week of rehearsals, it was the 120th birthday of Birmingham Hippodrome.
Waking up to many texts of concerns about costumes and rehearsal times. There was a slight air of panic, concerns about the colour of our veils and jewellery. We did manage to solve the issues by sharing each of our spare accessories if deemed necessary.

The dancers and I were thrilled to perform. We arrived early to make sure we had time to resolve any issues with the choreography routine. Thus, this gave us time to rehearse and get ready for the show. 
Getting ready is my favourite part of the performances! Applying makeup, wearing glamorous clothing, and gleaming jewellery. I enjoy wearing our cultural clothing. Wearing it makes me feel proud to be part of my culture. Proud to be Indian. 

After making ourselves all glamorous, it was only a few minutes until show-time. Butterflies, giggles and shy smiles developed as the steward whispered, “one minute till show-time!” 
The dhol drummers began playing their lively beats that echoed into the theatre's soul. The drummers enjoyed the smiles from the audience. We felt a positive energy and we got into position and danced with all our energy.


We danced down the stairs and dispersed into the audience to invite them to dance with us. It was challenging moving around the dense crowd. 

Nevertheless, our large dance moves allowed us to glide through, parting them as we moved. The smiles we received were like blooming flowers, filling the room with happiness.




We guided the audience into the theatre to sit down as we continued to dance on stage. Our movements were full of spirit and grace. We jumped and pirouetted whilst our waving arms complemented our fluttering costumes. The blaze of stage lights shone upon us, illuminating our jewellery.

The drummers cued our dance sequence to finish and our feet flew in the air as we jumped in sync to the final beat. The audience exploded into roaring applause. It elevated our emotions, leaving us on a huge high. 

After the dancers and I arrived back-stage, we applauded ourselves. I was proud of the response we got from our audience. A warm feeling grows in you knowing you performed well, and people enjoyed it. 

The dancers and I felt lucky to be part of the Gala event. It was wonderful for us representing the diverse mix of cultures in Birmingham. 
 Comments

Lok Virsa – Birmingham Hippodrome 30th March 2019
Spring was slow to appear in March this year but the sun burst through the clouds on Saturday the 30th  March just in time for Lok Virsa at the Hippodrome, in the centre of Birmingham. 

I had heard wonderful tales from other colleagues about Lok Virsa, a one day arts festival or ‘mela’ of free arts activities and pop-up performances for all the family, but I was not prepared for the joyous carnival atmosphere that was to burst upon the streets of Birmingham and fill the beautifully decorated Hippodrome with the vibrant sights and sounds of the Indian Subcontinent.

The afternoon began with a lively procession through the bustling streets of Birmingham with passers by drawn in by the stunning costumes of the dancers and hypnotic rhythm of the drums.




The energy and exuberance of the procession was even enough to stop the traffic in its tracks:

Crowds gathered outside the Hippodrome as the musicians and dancers opened the afternoon festivities with a wonderful selection of dances and invited the public into the Hippodrome for an unforgettable day of music, dance and arts activities for all the family.


My role for the day was to greet visitors and let them know what was happening and what events were taking place.  This was no easy task as over 5000 people came along to enjoy all that Lok Virsa had to offer. The time flew as I chatted to people who wanted to learn more about Sonia Sabri Company. We had lots of enquiries about the different dance and music classes that we offer inspired by the stunning performances on the day.  I was also responsible for overseeing our great group of volunteers. These students willingly gave up their Saturday to help where needed, from decoration of the Hippodrome in the morning to supporting the artists throughout the day and ensuring that they had sufficient art supplies for the popular art activities. As I zoomed around the building, I also took the opportunity to snap pictures and videos of all the activities to share on social media.  The dance and music workshops were full of enthusiastic participants and I loved seeing the concentration on everyone’s faces as they focused intently on learning new steps and rhythms. The joy on their faces when they were able to follow the steps was so wonderful to see.

The free art activities were popular with young and old.  Visitors were able to try out calligraphy, rangoli and book binding as well as block printing and it was great that so many who took part were able to take home a memento of their day. The mhendi (henna tattoos) were also extremely popular and the designs were intricate and exquisite.

It was lovely to speak to families that had never visited the Hippodrome before or seen the style of music and dance and art activities that make Lok Virsa such a vibrant and exciting festival. It was also so special to see so many families having fun together, from grandparents to young children; everyone had a smile on their faces.

The atmosphere was carnival like and the magnificent spaces of the Hippodrome echoed with music and laughter. The beautiful film screening of “Dastaan with Sarvar Sabri” accompanied by live music and the eloquence of the poetry readings brought the day to a dignified and serene end.

I feel so lucky to have been a part of this colourful and fun filled day and I am looking forward to the next Lok Virsa – watch this space, as we may well be coming to a town near you very soon!


Photo credits: Anisa Fazal, Liv Buckland, and Lisa Godsal
 Comments

The arrival of spring brings with it a new, vibrant dance class:

Asian Folk Dance classes with Sonia Sabri

With a few glorious days of sunshine last week, stunning blossom trees in full bloom and front gardens and grass verges bursting with colour and new growth it really felt like spring was round the corner, bringing with it a sense of hope, excitement and fresh opportunities. April showers may well have returned with a vengeance but this hasn’t dampened the sense of optimism that seemed to have been ushered in alongside the blue skies and gentle golden sunshine of spring. A week into my new job here at Sonia Sabri Company, I am beginning to learn some of the intricacies of the poetic and rhythmic enchantment of Kathak dance. As I sit at my desk I can hear the gentle beat of lyrical music and the tapping and jingling of bells as Sonia uses just movement and expression to tell her complex stories. Kathak is an integral part of SSCo from classical to more urban interpretation and its grace and beauty is evident throughout the company. But to capture the true excitement and joy of spring and new beginnings I am thrilled that the company is piloting a new class for dance enthusiasts, South Asian Folk.  Folk dances are performed to express joy and festivity and are traditionally an integral part of any celebration. Unlike the complexity of Kathak, folk dances are relatively simple with minimum steps and movement but full of energy and vitality. Folk dance is vibrant, colourful and full of joy and laughter and perfectly reflects the hope that spring can bring, a burst of colour after a winter of grey skies, cold weather and bare fields and landscapes. 
If you are interested in learning more about the four week pilot of Asian Folk Dance classes please take a look at our website:
or give us a call on 0121 622 3135


 Comments

KATHAK CAMP IS BACK!


FOR KATHAK STUDENTS...

That's right! The successful Kathak Camp is back again by popular demand! This time around it has been our students that have asked for this to return as they were so impressed with the last Kathak intensive!



Venue: Baithak House, 202 Moseley Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B12 0RT

Dates: Sat 16th  December – Sun 17th December 2017, 10am-5pm


What is it?
Sonia Sabri Company is offering a fantastic opportunity for Kathak students to immerse themselves into a weekend intensive and inspirational course led by world-renowned artist Sonia Sabri. 

Kathak is profoundly based on the complex foundation of rhythm and percussive creativity. To execute these with a wider rhythmic palette and expressive depth, one must be able to appreciate, analyse and illustrate the Kathak vocabulary.

Sessions will focus on the artform technique, development of vocabulary, creation and execution including recitation, and artform appreciation.



Image by Simon Richardson


Sonia Sabri is an award-winning artist creating and performing world-class productions around the globe. She is a current, leading performing artist who performs regularly and offers a unique insightful learning experience, and a repertoire relevant to today’s arts scene. 

Sonia is also an award-winning dedicated teacher with a wealth of experience and knowledge.

Her generous training and guidance enables students to reach their potential and support those with a desire of developing into the next generation of artists. So come along and immerse yourself on what promises to be an adrenaline boosting experience!


Who is it for?
Kathak Camp is suitable for Kathak students:
  • with a minimum of 2 years training
  • who are dedicated to the study and practice of Kathy
  • who enjoy learning in a fun and focused environment.



Image by Simon Richardson


Additional benefits?
In addition to the above: an insight into technique, style and performance, Kathak Camp offers you some of the following:
  • Professional development
  • Personal development
  • Accredited qualification towards Duke of Edinburgh
  • Accredited qualification towards Arts Award
  • Potential opportunity to perform as part of company's annual showcase Akaar
  • Potential opportunity to join Kathakaars (music and dance performance company for aspiring artists)
  • Potential recruitment as part of Sonia Sabri Company 
  • Opportunity to connect with other dance students and emerging artists.



Where and When?
Baithak House, 202 Moseley Street, Digbeth, Birmingham. B12 0RT
Saturday 16thand Sunday 17th December 10-5pm!


What is the cost?
£60 per person


Enrolment Details
To receive an enrolment form, or for any further queries please contact: Melanie Lewis, Projects Manager. 
Email: mel@ssco.org.uk  or Tel: 0121 622 3135
Deadline to enrol is 5pm Monday 4th December 2017.


 Comments

SONIA SABRI COMPANY'S KATHAK AND TABLA CLASSES CAPTURE THE FUN OF INDIAN MUSIC AND DANCE



Bored with the standard gym workout class and searching for something more creative and exciting than Tai Chi in the park, I came across Sonia Sabri's Kathak and Tabla classes. I wanted something that was going to engage me, excite me and keep me entertained long after. Sonia Sabri Company host a variety of different classes for all age groups, covering the beauty and energy of Indian music and dance.

I was excited to attend my first class, ready to learn more about the intricacies of Kathak dance. Kathak is a North Indian dance style that is known for its graceful and fluid movements and its rhythmic footwork. This particular dance is specialised and honed by internationally acclaimed artist, teacher and choreographer, Sonia Sabri, who not only shares her skills and knowledge in class but adds a new perspective to an already inspirational art.

Sonia Sabri Company capture the grace, fluidity and fun of Kathak dance. 

I was also excited to learn about Tabla Percussion as well, which is also offered alongside the Kathak dance class. The Tabla is a culmination of two drums, a treble and a bass that are played whilst you are on the floor. This is just as exciting and immersive as Kathak with the group class syllabus being spread between learning basic strokes, speed control and rhythm from Sarvar Sabri, who is a well- renowned Tabla master. 

The immersive nature of the Tabla is taught by world-renowned maestro, Sarvar Sabri. 

The best thing about these sessions is that you don't even need to have any experience in either art, as they are taught in a friendly and open manner. However, what you will come away with is a new found knowledge of Kathak and Tabla and maybe even an urge to try it again. The classes are held in Digbeth, Birmingham, only a short 10 minute walk away from the bustling centre of Birmingham's Bullring and Grand Central Station. 

If you would like to try a session and are interesting in having some fun and learning a new art, then contact Melanie Lewis at 0121 622 3135 or get in touch by email at mel@ssco.org.uk. 

 Comments

KATHAK AND TABLA CLASSES


DID YOU KNOW...?

Working in Marketing for Sonia Sabri Company can be full of surprises. Some days are spent working on a laptop completing all of the admin jobs, and other days are spent 'out and about' meeting staff of other venues to make sure that everything's looking organised for the next event. 

Take for instance; Saturday 26th August, 2017. This was my first time since joining the company (from the beginning of August) in which I spent the entire day not only helping out at the Lok Virsa (South Asian arts and crafts event), but also in watching such amazing performances and workshops!

The day was full of so much energy and the artists all looked wonderful in their colourful clothes!

There were so many routines that the dancers had learnt. It must have taken them hours of practise, and they must have given up so much of their own time to rehearse for such an exciting event.



It makes you think how and where this all begins!

In fact it all starts right here! Yes, here in the studio space of Sonia Sabri Company in Digbeth, Birmingham. 

These fantastic dancers that displayed their skills have and continue to develop their Kathak dance skills through weekly classes. Some have gone into these sessions with very little experience, and some with no experience at all!

So, it doesn't matter if you have danced for years or have no idea of dance. These weekly classes are open to everyone!

Not only that, but there's also classes on offer for tabla too! Again, no experience is necessary!

So, why not come along and join in and have fun?

If you'd like to find out more about these exciting classes, then check out the link below and enrol today!

And who knows, YOU maybe performing in the next Sonia Sabri Company event too!

http://www.ssco.org.uk/learning/learning/classes.html

(Image above by Sonia Sabri Company)








 Comments

Youthink - NEW young people's project at The Drum, Birmingham

Calling 13 19 year olds for

YOUTHINK

Do you have a passion for performing?
Are you a dancer, singer or actor living in Birmingham?
YOUTHINK needs you!

Sonia Sabri Company is recruiting young performers for a new dance theatre project focussing on issues surrounding community & identity.

Aspiring producers, designers, directors, script-writers, musicians and dancers are needed for the YOUTHINK project which runs from February-May 2012 to create a spectacular performance at The Drum Arts Centre.

To find out how you can get involved, call Sonia Sabri Company on 0121 622 3135 or
 Comments
/