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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. 
 Comments

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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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.

 Comments

A Review of Virago






A Review of Virago 


I was interested to learn that Virago had been the result of some extensive research. As a woman, I was grateful to hear this. I've always been interested in listening to other women's stories and the fact that SSCo had clearly listened to other women and had attempted to understand them, made the performance more real for me. I was informed that Virago was not an attempt to victimise women but instead to explore the various elements of a female and indeed, an individual. Some of these themes and elements include the repression and entrapment of women, mental health issues including eating disorders and anxiety.








Sonia's dance art, Kathak was fast paced, energetic and had moments of real pain and power. I was transfixed by the haunting music from the company's musical director, Sarvar Sabri. There is some dialogue scattered throughout which serves to move the story on and add a bit of pathos to the narrative. The majority of the music playing had me feeling as if I had just wandered into a dream, which not only made the performance more exciting but also left me thinking about it long after it had finished.




The dancing itself also had elements of ballet and this translated into the clear ups and downs of life. The best thing about this is that you can tell that it is Sonia's personal style and that it reflects modern society and the experiences she has gone through both as a dancer and as a woman. Personally, I took the fast paced nature of Virago to reflect the frenetic energy of modern life and how hard it is to gain perspective as a person and how hard it is to gain a sense of freedom and voice as a woman.


By far my favourite part of the performance was the imagery that it conjured up. The build up of the broken female, her attempt to overcome the tragedies enforced on her and how these two things correlate in the world of reality and the world of psychedelic fantasy. Sonia's attempt to explore the minds and experiences of women everywhere more than pays off and the dedication and energy shown should be replicated in every other dance show out there.

Virago dates:

The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham, 15th February, 7.30pm;
Swindon Dance, Swindon, 23rd March, 7.30pm.

Photographs by Simon Richardson

Writer and Reviewer: Abigail Remmer




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Live in London!  

On 26thof June our fabulous group of musicians journeyed down to the British Library in London to perform DASTAAN.

Nerves were in the air but we are proud to announce that the performance went fantastically!
The audience loved the mixture of live music and film and we got some wonderful feedback:

 ‘Brilliant blend of instruments; voices and film’
‘I loved watching the performers riff off each other and show their talents’
‘The musicians and instruments were wonderful and poetic’

The next performance of DASTAAN will be at Wirksworth Festival in September!

Keep checking our news feed for more details on how you could see this truly inspiring performance!
 Comments

VIRAGO IS NEAR

With just one week to go until Virago hits the stage at mac birmingham, we are completely run off our feet! Blood, sweat and tears have gone into making this tremendous performance and watching it all come together this Saturday will be the icing on the cake for all of us.

Stepping into the theatre today I was unaware of just what the day would entail, lights, projections, smoke… giant 60ft images of pixelated dancers? It’s all a bit of a mystery to me, but wow it sure is impressive. Mixing digital elements with dance is a rarity and from what I have seen so far there will not be another performance like ‘Virago’.

Women from all over Birmingham have helped us to make this performance as real and heart wrenching as possible and we can’t thank them enough for bravely sharing their experiences and views on womanhood.

Working on this performance has been a dream come true, and I can’t wait to see everyone’s hard work pull together.

I’m a part of this revolution, are you?



















VIRAGO
Saturday 11th March @ 8pm
mac birmingham

Watch our ‘making of Virago’ film here:  http://bit.ly/2lg1Ifh

Book your tickets here: http://bit.ly/2mvnVrx


 Comments

VIRAGO - DEBUT PERFORMANCE


It’s getting close to the debut date of our brand new performance piece ‘Virago’ and we can’t wait to see you there!

I’ve had the privilege of watching this inspirational piece go from a simple idea to an astounding masterpiece of dance and sound, and wow it has been a journey.

We have used the thoughts and experiences of real women to inspire this piece and to ensure a relatable connection with its audience. Combined with the efforts of Ludic Rooms and Sonia Sabri’s artistic visionary and talents, this show is set to be like no other.

‘Virago’ means ‘female warrior’ in Latin and Vira is ‘the brave one’ in Hindi. This new performance explores the light vs. dark and the real vs. fairy-tale versions of female existence, while discussing the choices and decisions we must make as we go through life regardless of gender: there is no clear path to do the right thing, only options, and not all of them are easy.

Sonia’s signature ‘Urban Kathaklanguage merges on stage with digital artistry, alongside a sound-score combining spoken word and music, with rich and diverse influences: a cacophony of voices from Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, representing and speaking to women worldwide, but appealing to all of our humanity, regardless of gender and culture.

Prepare yourself for an evening of first class entertainment that will touch your heart and leave you feeling moved.

Come and be part of the revolution.

VIRAGO
mac birmingham
11th March @ 8pm


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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
 Comments

Kathakbox vox-pops!



Touring the UK and internationally in 2011-12, Kathakbox is our new production which brings together Kathak dance, hip hop, contemporary dance, beatbox, tabla vox and spoken word. We asked some of of our audience members at the Corsham Festival, Wiltshire; The Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough; and The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton what they thought of the show. As you can see, people of all ages and backgrounds are loving it!

With thanks to Shan Bansil for additional filming and Dawn Jackson for editing.
 Comments

Sonia Sabri Company are Associate Artists of mac, Birmingham

We're very happy to announce that Sonia Sabri Company have been invited to be Associate Artists at mac, Birmingham.  Since Sonia attended her very first Kathak class as a child at mac, it has been a creative home from home for her, and this new relationship will form the basis of some very exciting work in the next few years.
Our first major project at mac will be rehearsals for our brand new production,
Kathakbox, a meeting of dance and urban culture.  Sonia and fellow artists will be hard at work in the studio from December through to February, and they will be blogging themselves about the artistic process each week.  The premiere of Kathakbox will take place in the theatre at mac on 16th, 17th and 18th February 2011.  We hope to see many of the friends of the company who have supported us through the years at these performances, more information on Kathakbox will follow soon.
Sonia will also continue to teach her regular Kathak classes at
mac, and this Autumn Sarvar Sabri too will join the mac team as tabla tutor.  For more information on these and mac's other courses check out their website, links at the end of this post.
In the Spring,
mac opened its doors once more after an intensive building project and refurbishment programme.  If you haven't been down to check out the lovely new spaces, familiar friendliness and quality arts programme, what are you waiting for?   www.macarts.co.uk
 Comments

Sonia Sabri Company at NAAD festival of Kathak Dance


Come and join us at the Bhavan Centre on XYZ
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