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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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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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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


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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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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. 

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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)








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Greenbelt Festival 2017


We are extremely excited that an exert of 'Salaam' will be included in the line up of Greenbelt Festival at Boughton House, Kettering, on the 27th August, 7:00pm! 


Since 1974, Greenbelt have had a mission to create spaces, where art, faith and justice collide, hosting a multi-arts festival programme of music, visual and performing arts, spirituality, comedy, talks and discussion. Their commitment to the arts, has made them a great platform for us to showcase 'Salaam.'





Prior to the performance, come along and discover the basics of Kathak, with an exclusive dance workshop, at 12:30pm, which will you give an insight into the joyous and rhythmic indian dance. Footwork, spins,rhytmic choreographies and the art of storytelling through mime, gesture and facial expressions will all be explored!

This will be followed by the highly anticipated presentation of Salaam in the evening! The piece is set to be stunning, cleverly weaving dialogue between exhilarating live music and meaningful storytelling, through Kathak. Acclaimed, Sonia Sabri will command the stage, with her precise, graceful technique and command of rhythm and repertoire, whilst Sarvar Sabri as a gifted tabla player, will provide a deep and unique insight into Indian classical music. 





To find out more- 
http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/artists/salaam-presented-by-sonia-sabri-company/ 






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A stunning solo

Those who ventured into VIRAGO saw some serious girl power!

Once again Sonia has mesmerised audiences, this time with her new innovative dance solo. VIRAGO exploded into theatres at it's preview performances at Mac Birmingham and The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton. Did somebody say standing ovation?

'Mind blowing and liberating', are just some of the words that have been used to describe the show.

VIRAGO showed beauty and fragility. It illuminates elements of what the media perceives as 'the woman' and the pressure that creates, yet still presenting empowerment and hope.  

Audience members felt a deep connection to the piece, one woman describing it as  'Deep - it reminded me of something personal in my past. It was like she knew my story.'

It’s safe to say that that VIRAGO was a huge success! A massive thank you to all those involved and our wonderful audiences! 


Keep your eyes peeled for further performances from the company!


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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


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Sonia Sabri Company at the Alchemy Festival 2012


Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX


For the third year running, Sonia Sabri Company returns to the Southbank Centre’s Alchemy festival with a unique programme of performance and workshops:

Lok Virsa: Without Borders
Tuesday 17th April 2012, 6pm
The Clore Ballroom, Southbank Centre
Free event
Lok Virsa simply means the 'heritage of the people'. It is this beautiful simplicity that Sonia Sabri Company celebrates, bringing together the arts of music, poetry and dance rooted in the lands of the Indian subcontinent.
India and Pakistan share a rich and robust cultural heritage, which even today unites the people of each country, despite modern borders and political differences. This living heritage has spread across the globe, influencing much of our contemporary arts today: a testament that physical or any form of segregation does not affect the spirit of the arts and culture. In fact, it is the arts that enable us to rise above material matters and celebrate our existence, beyond what words can describe.
Internationally acclaimed Sonia Sabri Company invites some of the most inspirational artists originally from Pakistan to collaborate on a unique interactive presentation especially for the Alchemy festival. Lok Virsa features a rare chance to see traditional folk song, music and dance from different regions of Pakistan, with a guest speaker to give an overview of the current arts scene. Lok Virsa is hosted by the UK’s leading Kathak artist, Sonia Sabri. Find out more at the Southbank Centre's website.

Workshops (free events)



Pakistani Folk Dance Workshop
Saturday 21 April 2012, 11am and 4pm, The Clore Ballroom, Southbank Centre
Learn the moves of traditional folk dances from the subcontinent that influence much of the dance styles today. This workshop is fast, energetic and packed with lots of fun! Suitable for anyone with an interest in dance.

Calligraphy Workshop
Saturday 21 April, 12.00pm, Foyer Bar, Level 2, Southbank Centre
Urdu calligraphy is an art widely admired for its beauty, and the skill and creativity required of the artist. Have a go at learning the basic techniques or Urdu calligraphy and create a piece of craft that you can show off. Spaces are limited for these free workshops and will be offered on a first come, first served basis.


Folk Song and Rhythms of Pakistan
Led by Sarvar Sabri and Aasia Suman
Saturday 21 April, 1pm & 4.30pm, The Clore Ballroom, Southbank Centre
Have an interest in singing or playing a percussion instrument? This is a fantastic opportunity to learn the essence of folk songs from Punjab and Multan and how to play the regional upbeat grooves with technical flair which makes this genre stand out from the rest. If you have good vocal chords and/or percussion instruments please do bring them along!

Musharia: Poetry Recital
Saturday 21 April, 2.30pm, The Clore Ballroom, Southbank Centre
This is an intimate and interactive session, where you can hear some of the UK's finest poets share their humorous, romantic and topical poetry. You can also share your compositions and take part in discussions. A mushaira is a beloved part of the culture of Pakistan and North India, and it is greatly admired by participants as a forum for free self-expression. Open to all who have an interest in Urdu and Punjabi poetry, ghazal and nazam.



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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
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