Sonia Sabri Company to Perform Ensemble Piece JUGNI and Solo Piece EKALYA this August

Sonia Sabri Company to Perform Ensemble Piece JUGNI and Solo Piece EKALYA this August

SONIA SABRI COMPANY will perform their highly acclaimed ensemble piece JUGNI at this year's Belfast Mela on August 24th and Sonia's sizzling solo EKALYA at Edinburgh Mela on August 30th and 31st.

BELFAST MELA: JUGNI is an explosion of dance, music and meaning with soaring live vocals and percussion performed onstage by musicians led by the company's musical director, Sarvar Sabri on tabla. Sonia Sabri Company is rightly celebrated for presenting Kathak (classical Indian dance) in bold new ways; the powerful contemporary choreography of JUGNI is inspired by personal stories contributed by women from all over the UK and drives the movement and rhythm of this popular piece of dance. "Jugni is an emotionally moving piece which celebrates the hardships and aspirations of women," says Sonia. "It's about stories that often can't be told because of a woman's position in society or her culture; it's very much a homage to women all over the world.

"I've visited Belfast a few times and I'm really looking forward to our debut at Belfast Mela. Belfast - and much of Ireland itself - has a long history and tradition of dance and music, rhythm and rhyme, so whenever we have performed there's a real sense of connection. Generally the people are so loving and generous, it's infectious."

On 'JUGNI' the Nottingham Post wrote, "With a strong cast of five female performers Sonia's skilful and meticulous mixture of emotions that modern women endure across the globe, ranging from sentiments of love, pity, anger, jealousy, subservience to authority, supremacy and control. So effective and ingenious were the dance phrases through the use of shape, form, speed and timing that the performance took Sonia's choreography to another level..."

The music is inspired by Qawwali, an ancient form of Sufi devotional music popular in South Asia which has gained mainstream popularity in the UK over the last few years after being performed at world music festivals such as WOMAD. Qawwali music is traditionally sung and performed by men; it's very high energy with lots of clapping, drumming and soaring vocals. The music for JUGNI features a surprising and eclectic mix of Welsh and Urdu vocals, Egyptian percussion and of course tabla.

EDINBURGH MELA: EKALYA (from the Sanskrit 'solo') is a barnstorming, solo composition that intricately and deftly weaves dance with music and features dancer/choreographer Sonia Sabri's electrifying signature footwork, whipping turns, complex rhythms and storytelling mime and gesture. Ekalya is a contemporary/classical celebration of Persian and Indian artistry expressed through the intricate language of Kathak dance. This stunning solo production features evocative live music from an ensemble of musicians: Sarvar Sabri, musical director and tabla maestro on tabla; vocals and harmonium by Shoma Dey and on the rare instrument sarangi is Gurpreet Singh.

"I love doing Mela in Edinburgh," says Sonia. "It's one of the festivals that really understands how to accommodate and present dance works and, above all, the people who attend are so friendly, warm and good humoured. Art seems to be inherent in people's lives which makes us feel like we are part of one big arty family! We presented Jugni at last year's Edinburgh Mela and had a rapturous reception; I really looking forward to going back and presenting Ekalya.

"These Mela festivals really challenge the misconception that festivals only programme commercial or glitzy work," continues Sonia. "For many Asians too it's a cultural event deriving from the sub continent where family and friends hang out together to be immersed in food, entertainment, shopping and socialising. Mela literally means 'getting together'. This family friendly event has caught on in the UK and brings communities of all cultural backgrounds together. It's a wonderful way to discover and appreciate each other's traditions and social activites and above all, join together and have fun."

SONIA and her company recently performed JUGNI and EKALYA to their biggest audience yet - 6,000 people - at WOMAD 2014. "We had a blast at Womad!" says Sonia. "It was the first time they had presented Kathak dance with live music and the reception was out of this world. We loved performing and the audience feedback was instant and vocal! For a moment I felt like a popstar because the energy was magnificent!"

SONIA SABRI is a dancer, choreographer, teacher and the artistic director of Sonia Sabri Company, the Birmingham-based company she co-founded with her husband, Sarvar Sabri. Sonia Sabri Company is Associate Artist at mac, Birmingham's leading arts complex and tours nationally and internationally. Sonia choreographs most of the company's work - Red, You, Kathakbox, Jugni - and has collaborated with choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh to produce Parallels, Drishti, and Neon Dream and with dancer/choreographer Ash Mukherjee on Kaavish andLabyrinth which is currently on tour. Sonia's vision is to present Kathak in contemporary ways for a wide audience and to work with collaborators and performers whose disciplines range from music and dance to poetry, design and film.

Sonia Sabri Company's Musical Director, Sarvar Sabri (left performing at WOMAD 2014) is a world-class musician and composer. A Master tabla player and founder of the Sabri Ensemble, Sarvar has played and collaborated with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Bournemouth Sinfonietta, East of England Orchestra, Sinfonia Baltica, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Says Sarvar Sabri: "When we work on the music for a new Sonia Sabri Company piece, we love discovering new musical talents, particularly if they live locally. We've sometimes found that musicians and singers, who often hail from my home town of Delhi, are literally living around the corner from us in Birmingham!"

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