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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. 
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Being involved in the creative development of “Same Same…But Different” by Laura Vanhulle (Dancer)


It has been so great working on “Same Same…But Different”. Each time I work with Sonia the approach is so different. She has a unique perspective on movement and choreography and her passion for dance and unique vision really helps me grow and expand both as an artist and as a human being.

I was lucky enough to be involved from the beginning of this project from research and development to creating the final piece. This for me was a super interesting starting point, and it was wonderful for myself (Contemporary Dancer) to work with the other artists, Mickael Marso Riviere (Breakdance background) and Aakanksha Rawat (Classical Indian Dance). It was fantastic how such totally different people were able to come together into a room and unite to create such an authentic and multi layered work of art.  This process confirmed for me how it is important to always be open, stay humble and allow yourself to be vulnerable. This rawness enabled us be open to each others differences and find common ground, to create an exciting piece with so much colour, beauty and truth.

“Same Same…But different” really allowed me to tap into my childhood curiosity and to be vulnerable and reminded me that it is ok to be different; through this we can see the beauty of other people’s differences when we open up ourselves to others.

Photo credit: Simon Richardson



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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
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The Festival vibe!

There is nothing quite like the thrill of performing on a stage in front of an audience. Unless of course that stage is outdoors! It is so special to be able to perform at an outdoor venue or festival where often the audience are within touching distance of you performing and the atmosphere is upbeat and full of energy. 
The ambiance of a music festival sparks a light inside anyone watching. The energy pulsating through the crowd is almost tangible and unites everyone there in perfect harmony. If you've ever been to a festival, you will know what we mean. A good festival experience will consist of meeting people you never normally would, listening to the sweet melodies of music you've never heard before and making wonderful memories you can keep with you for the rest of your life.

At Sonia Sabri Company we have been lucky enough to perform at a variety of festivals around the world and come rain or shine, alfresco events are unique and offer a fantastic experience both for the performers and the audience. All the hard work and hours of rehearsal are worth it when you catch a glimpse of members of the audience enthralled and captivated by your performance.  






Our outdoor events often incorporate the basics of Kathak, which give audiences an insight into this joyous and rhythmic Indian dance. Footwork, spins, rhythmic choreographies and the art of storytelling through mime, gesture and facial expressions are often explored accompanied by live music on a variety of instruments! The beat of the drums is infectious and it is wonderful to see young and old clapping along or tapping their own toes in time to the music. The melodies seem to hang in the air and the special bells worn around the dancers feet add an ethereal note to the performance. It always feels so special to be able to introduce the energy of Kathak to a new audience.
At SSCo music and dancing go hand and hand. Without the music there would be no dancing. The infectious melodies of Kathak encourage audience members to feel and move to the music, it is very much a two-way relationship with the performer and audience feeding off each others’ energy.

Not all performances take place in glorious sunshine, however, and evening performances or performances at dusk can also add a haunting undertone or highlight the passion in an individual or group display. The atmosphere can be even more intense and uplifting as the sun slowly sets and the music echoes through the darkness.



The feeling of looking out from the stage and seeing a crowd of people all having a wonderful time is amazing and one of the best feelings in the world.  We are looking forward to new and exciting performances this summer that will hopefully thrill and entertain no matter what the weather!


If you are interested in catching a live performance by Sonia Sabri Company or would like more information on booking SSCo please email
info@ssco.org.ukor call 01216223135.

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Interview: Crossing Boundaries with Kathak

An excellent interview with Sonia Sabri features in the January issue of Arts Industry magazine. 

In the article Sonia light-heartedly reflects on her own training, the formation of Sonia Sabri Company and some of the memorable moments since the company’s conception in 2002.

The history of Kathak is also touched upon as Sonia describes the evolution from a storytelling device to a classical art form. The interview also offers an insight into Sonia’s own history and relationship with dance before the formation of Sonia Sabri Company.

Sonia goes on to talk about the company’s commitment to presenting South Asian inspired music and dance in an energetic and exciting way, discussing how the company’s work can appeal to people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

The article is a wonderful reflection of the company’s work and Sonia and Sarvar’s commitment to producing high quality, innovative art and learning opportunities.

Arts Industry magazine is the only magazine available both in print and online for Britain’s cultural community. The magazine provides articles and interviews as wells as the latest news and job vacancies.

For more information about Arts Industry magazine and to read the article in full visit their website: http://www.artsindustry.co.uk



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NEW: Kathak classes in London!



FREE TASTER KATHAK CLASS
and enrolment for future classes

Saturday 11th February, 12-1.30pm and 2.30-4pm
The Broadway Studio, 11 Springbridge Mews, Ealing W5 2AB
For info and bookings call: Katie on 07951 762652

Kathak dance originates from the northern region of the Indian sub-continent and is rich with storytelling through mime and gesture, and vibrant with rhythmic moves, fast footwork and spins. It is one the most popular classical dances from India and has influenced other dance styles such as Bollywood and Contemporary.

Sonia Sabri Company (SSCo) is the UK’s pioneering Kathak dance company of international repute presenting the dance form in a new light. SSCo creates ravishing productions for performances in UK and abroad, as well as training young people to become high quality and professional dance artists. SSCo offers Kathak classes and workshops across the country and is delighted to run classes in London led by one of the company’s talented dancers.

Satveer Pnaiser is a classically trained Kathak dancer. British born, and trained by the leading Kathak artist Sonia Sabri, she has been working for Sonia Sabri Company for 9 years performing nationally and internationally and teaching company classes, workshops for schools and festivals. Satveer is an experienced and dedicated teacher, committed to sharing the joy of dance with others as well as generating new life and ambition to the art through student participation and creative collaboration.
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Upcoming performances: Kathakbox

Join us for the Spring 2012 leg of the tour of Kathakbox, which has been wowing audiences and critics across the UK and internationally:

"Kathakbox is a pleasure from start to finish. It creates a positive and energetic atmosphere where we are all one and dance is a joyous means of expression and fun." Laura Dodge, Dance Europe

"A clever interweaving of two distinct art forms, bringing out the subtle nuances of their mutuality... making us all feel a part of the unifying Kathakbox." Graham Watts, Dancing Times

Hope to see you soon at a venue near you:

Thursday 1st March at 8pm
Pegasus Theatre, Magdalen Road, Oxford, OX4 1RE
Box Office: 01865 812 150

Monday 5th March at 7.30pm
South Hill Park, Ringmead, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 7PA
Presented in association with Asian Arts Agency
Box Office: 01344 484 123

Tuesday 22nd May at 7.30pm
Solihull Arts Complex, Homer Road, Solihull, B91 3RG
Presented in association with Sampad
Box Office: 0121 704 6962

Saturday 9th June at 7pm
Special double-bill featuring Kathakbox and classical Kathak production Ekalya
Kala Sangam, St Peters House, 1 Forster Square, Bradford, BD1 4TY
Box Office: 01274 303340
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Sonia Sabri Company at NAAD festival of Kathak Dance


Come and join us at the Bhavan Centre on XYZ
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