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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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