Inala, Soweto Gospel Choir, And International Dancers Celebrate World Ballet Day At The Royal Albert Hall
INALA, the critically acclaimed South African Dance-Musical sensation, will celebrate World Ballet Day on Wednesday 23 October with a concert spectacular at the Royal Albert Hall, bringing together the South African choral legends, Soweto Gospel Choir with multi-award-winning choreographer Mark Baldwin OBE in this unique artistic collaboration. A celebration of South Africa today, INALA delivers all it promises; an uplifting cultural experience, powered by an explosion of live music, song and dance.
Following INALA's smash hit run at the Peacock Theatre earlier this year, INALA was performed at HRH Prince Harry's Hampton Court Palace Sentebale Concert in June, as well as in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands. The production, which premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2014, has now also enjoyed a sell-out run at London's Sadler's Wells, two UK tours and a Royal Variety Performance appearance, in the presence of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The three-time Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir will return to London with a company of 16 singers, joining the nine-strong band and 13 international dance stars on stage.
INALA, meaning 'abundance of goodwill' in Zulu, was originally conceived and developed to mark 20 years of South African democracy with a glorious collaboration by four-time Grammy Award-winning South African choral legends Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the British composer Ella Spira and former First Artist of the Royal Ballet Pietra Mello-Pittman. The music for INALA was recorded at Abbey Road Studios and was Grammy Award nominated in 2016 for Best World Music Album. Baldwin, who headed Ballet Rambert for 15 years winning a host of awards, was subsequently awarded an OBE for Services to Dance.
Blending the intricate rhythms and infectious harmonies of Soweto Gospel Choir's native musical roots with live percussion, piano and strings, Mark Baldwin's choreography unites Zulu traditions with classical ballet and contemporary dance.
Featuring world-class international dancers, the production embraces an exhilarating fusion of South African and Western cultures live on stage, to create a unique and vibrant immersive experience.
Confirmed dancers for INALA at the Royal Albert Hall include BBC Young Dancer 2017 winner Nafisah Baba (Chrysalis London, Phoenix Dance Theatre), Elly Braund (Richard Alston Dance Company), Joshua Harriette (Michael Clark Company, Ballet Black, Matthew Bourne New Adventures, Richard Alston Dance Company), Sharia Johnson (Michael Clark Company, Richard Alston Dance Company, Rambert), Nahum McLean (Richard Alston Dance Company, West Side Story tour), Hicaro Nicolai (Voices of The Amazon, Hoje é Dia de Maria Musical, E Proibido Miar The Musical, Ballet Jovem Minas Gerais, Voices of the Amazon), Yasmin Priyatmoko Bohn (ŻfinMalta Dance Ensemble), Nicholas Shikkis (Richard Alston Dance), Adelene Stanley (Frontier Danceland) and Jason Tucker (DeNada Dance Theatre, Arielle Smith Company, Richard Alston Dance Company) and Ashleigh Wilson (Peter Schaufuss Ballet/International Arts Collective),
INALA's costumes are designed by acclaimed designer and former taxidermist Georg Meyer-Wiel, and the show has sound design by Adrian Rhodes and lighting by Ben Cracknell.
INALA has a dynamic social impact and schools programme and has drawn in audiences who number an average of 37% first time theatre attendees.
For the Royal Albert Hall performance, with the added relevance of falling in both Black History Month and on World Ballet Day, the producers are offering 1,000 tickets free of charge to London communities who would not normally have the opportunity to attend a ballet or West End show.
This initiative to ensure their audience is representative of the diverse, multicultural makeup of the capital city mirrors their work - their outreach programme at The Peacock, partnered with Mosaic, a Prince's Trust initiative, saw around 1,000 secondary school students schools from under-privileged areas of London to attend to the performances free of charge. The young people had opportunities to meet and ask questions of the cast as well as use the visits to develop artistic ideas in their schools. Many of the attendees had never before had an opportunity to see any form of live theatre, dance or music. The programme was a great success and the impact evaluation saw teachers and students feeding back a range of benefits, including improved wellbeing, a greater interest in pursuing creative subjects and also an improved connection to other cultures:
'I would watch INALA again due to the fact that it separated us from the outside world and words would not be able to contain how I really feel about the show other than it was AMAZING'. - Student, Lambeth College
INALA's producers are ex-Royal Ballet ballerina Pietra Mello-Pittman and composer Ella Spira. In 2009 they had a vision to create a theatre company that broke all the rules and Sisters Grimm was born. Pietra and Ella nurtured INALA from an original concept to celebrate 20 years of democracy in South Africa through to its premiere in 2014, bringing together an extraordinary creative team. INALA subsequently received its international premiere at the prestigious Chekhov festival in Moscow. Sisters Grimm went on to present 'Voices of the Amazon' narrated by the inimitable Jeremy Irons and currently have three further productions in development. Sisters Grimm remain true to their ethos on future projects; namely to create authentic, culturally themed work that develops and increases a diverse audience for arts by bringing together different disciplines and cultures, in a way that is inclusive, vibrant and entertaining.