Multi award winning choreographer Mark Baldwin OBE speaks about his journey with ‘Inala’ on its West End Premiere at the Peacock

Abundant Art’s Protima Chatterjee spoke with Mark Baldwin before the show and here is what he had to share about his experience with Inala.

Inala, a Zulu Ballet is a product of a unique collaboration between the Grammy Award winning South African Soweto Gospel Choir and leading dancers from London. The dancers are drawn from the Royal Ballet, Rambert, Richard Alston Dance Company and Company Wayne McGregor.

Presented by Sisters Grimm and choreographed by multi-award-winning choreographer Mark Baldwin OBE, it is an engaging, enjoyable and a trailblazing stage production. The Grammy nominated musical score is not only sung but danced by the Gospel choir singers. They touch the audience deeply with their overwhelming stage presence. The dancers are strong and chiselled – their powerful emotive performance leaves the audience gasping. Mark Baldwin’s artistic vision is perfectly translated through this mesmerising storytelling of the ‘abundance of goodwill’ or Inala in Zulu. It is a coming together of diverse cultures, artistic disciplines and backgrounds in one power packed presentation – a must watch!

Inala will run from April 30th to May 18th at the Peacock Theatre, Sadlers Wells

Nafisah Baba, winner of BBC Young Dancer 2017-exclusive interview with Abundant Art in the run up to Sadler’s Wells Sampled-2 & 3 February 2018.

Nafisah Baba winner of the contemporary category and overall winner of BBC Young Dancer 2017 competition presents Inescapable at Sadler’s Wells Sampled, a work created by her for last year’s competition.

1.Winning BBC Young Dancer 2017 is a milestone in your career. Congratulations Nafisah! How did it feel when your name was announced?

Thank you! To be honest, I don’t even remember how I felt – it was all such a blur but I do know I was just completely shocked!! I think it only properly sunk in when I was holding the trophy after walking on stage and just taking in the audience in front of me. I’ll never forget that moment.

2. What are your key learnings from your successful participation?

There are a few key things I learnt from participating in Young Dancer. 1. Always be true to yourself. 2. Don’t be so hard on yourself and always stay humble. 3. It’s amazing what you can do when you believe in yourself. 4. Supporting and giving others confidence does amazing things, don’t forget to do it! I learnt a great deal in and out of the studio alone, in rehearsals with my mentor and choreographer and each round of the competition. Reflecting to that whole period in 2017, it was 6 months of continual growth and learning, even if I was unaware of it at some points.

3. How do you think you grew as a performer from Chrysalis London to BBC Young Dancer and after?

I had many performance experiences with Chrysalis London, each one being so different, and as the shows went by, I began to feel more at ease with being on stage. Each performance gave me a little more confidence and experience. As an artist, people will be watching you and you must find a way to be comfortable with that, even if deep down you are incredibly nervous at the thought of performing to an audience or being on stage. The years I spent with Chrysalis London not only helped me achieve this but helped me enjoy the process as well despite the nerves.

If I’m honest, I am usually a complete nervous wreck before I go on stage! But once I start dancing, I get so lost in the movement and with what I’m doing that sometimes I forget people are watching me. There are times where I feel at ease and safe on stage, and BBC Young Dancer helped me find this. Everything that has helped me develop from Chrysalis and BBC Young Dancer will always stay with me, and I hope to continue this growth with Phoenix Dance Theatre and beyond.

4. What has been your biggest challenge in your dance journey?

There have been many challenges in my dance journey, but the biggest challenge would have to be realising and believing in myself and my true potential, something I would have never been able to truly do had it not been for Jodie Blemings, Chrysalis, and the support in that environment, as well as from my friends and family outside.

5. How do you prep yourself before a performance? Any rituals before you go on stage?

I do a few things to prep myself before a performance. I make sure I’ve eaten properly and while doing this I’ll chill out and listen to some music to keep me feeling calm. On the day or the evening of the performance, I don’t like to think about the performance in too much detail too early otherwise I tend to start panicking and building up unnecessary nerves. After a while I’ll start warming up, either in the studio or the dressing room and do a ballet barre and core exercises. I’m completely in my zone at this point! Once I’m warm, I’ll play the music I’ll be dancing to and go over my solo several times while visualising what I’ll be doing on stage. I find this really helps me with nerves and gets me focused.

6. What might you be doing if you were not in this career?

I do sometimes wonder, in a parallel universe what I would be doing if I wasn’t dancing. There are many things I can think of that I’d love to do, but I can’t say I know what I’d definitely do. Dance has been part of my life for the most of it and to dance professionally has always been an ambition of mine. I think I’d probably still be doing something physical, I’ve always loved sports (sometimes more than dance!), and I considered taking netball seriously during my high school years. On the other hand, I love writing, so maybe I would have studied and gone to university!

7. How do you define contemporary dance and its use in the current artistic environment?

How would I define Contemporary dance? That’s a hard question, there are so many definitions, but I would say it’s an incredibly expressive style of dance that connects the body with the mind with movement. It’s a style that combines elements and includes and values collaborations of other different dance styles too. Contemporary dance has no boundaries to movement, ideas, and you don’t have to ‘fit a certain mould’ to do or succeed in it.

8. What is it that inspires you as an artist?

There are many things that inspire me as an artist. 1. The people I surround myself with. 2. The companies and dancers that I aspire to be like and have inspired me to dance for years. 3. Hearing and seeing people’s reactions, (dancers and non-dancers especially), to seeing dance that moves them. 4. My own reactions and feelings to seeing something that moves me. 4. The feeling and the freedom dancing gives me. 5. The opportunities it can give and the places it can take people.

9. Is collaborative work across multiple art forms exciting for you?

 It really does excite me when new art forms can be created through collaborations! It keeps dance fresh and current and also presents and gives more credit and exposure to art forms and techniques that people may not be as familiar with. You can learn so much simply just from watching other art forms and their disciplines. I found this happened when I first joined Chrysalis. We were a hub of different styles and the things we learnt from each other were so valuable. Sharing and valuing each other’s styles changed my movement positively and made me realise the possibilities of movement and where it can take you. I believe you are a product of your environment and each environment contributes to you as an individual.  Admiring styles I had never worked with or even seen before allowed me to explore my body and make shapes I didn’t realise were possible, and when these things maybe didn’t work out, new pathways and movement was discovered for the first time. I think this can be such a beautiful moment.

10. Apart from dance any other activities you are interested in?

I love to draw, write and if I had the time I would pick up a few sports again!

11. What’s your next big aspiration?

I’m still trying to figure out my next aspiration. My aspiration two years ago was to join a professional touring company and I’ve just recently joined Phoenix Dance Theatre. I have many plans for my dance career and fresh ideas, but I want to wait and experience a little bit more before I figure out what my next aspiration will be. I would love to travel to different countries and experience dance and the culture there later on in life, and I dream about having my own mentoring scheme in the future (after my career)!

12. A message from you for all the aspiring young dancers who aim to walk in your footsteps with BBC Young Dancer and beyond?

To the next BBC Young Dancers, remember it’s not always about the winning and being the best. What you learn throughout is what is most valuable and how it can positively change you as an artist and an individual. I always say, winning was just the cherry on top of the cake for me. Also, don’t let the pressure of anything take away the joy, opportunity and experience you are being offered. Live in every moment and have no regrets!

Sadler’s Wells Sampled, features world-class dance and a series of workshops and foyer activities, on Friday 2 & Saturday 3 February 2018. The festival gives audiences a chance to experience the broad range of dance presented at Sadler’s Wells  Following its London run, Sampled will then tour to The Lowry, Salford Quays as part of The Movement, a producing partnership for dance between Sadler’s Wells, The Lowry and Birmingham Hippodrome. Sampled features a wide variety of dance, from classical ballet to hip hop, contemporary and flamenco.
For full line up and ticket information


‘Art is in constant oscillation and research. It’s human nature to want evolution. Dance is no different’…..Zenaida Yanowsky, Former Principal of The Royal Ballet in conversation- in the run up to Sadler’s Wells Sampled – 2 & 3 February 2018

Zenaida Yanowsky performs Dying Swan (at Sadler’s Wells Sampled on both days, evening performances)….A solo created specifically for the ballet dancer Anna Pavlova by Mikhail Fokine in 1905, set to Camille Saint-Saëns’s cello solo Le Cygne from Le Carnaval des Animaux (The Carnival of the Animals).

1.What does dance mean to you and how according to you has dance evolved over the years?

Dance for me means communicating experiences or feelings and energies through movement.  Dance has physically and technically evolved at fast speed but the soul of the art form remains the same”.

2.What is the most memorable moment in your 23 years with the Royal Ballet?

I don’t think I can single out a memorable moment because 23 years at the Royal Ballet carries so many amazing experiences… but in the sense of achievement, there’s two that I could probably highlight

First, is when I was made Principal Dancer as it meant I was ready to explore all those amazing roles.

Second would be my first performance after having my kids. 

I will never forget that overwhelming emotional rollercoaster”.

3. Do you dance better when you are happy or when you are sad?/Do you think personal emotions and feelings can affect your craft and have an impact on the performance?

I prefer to be in a neutral state of mind but there’s been times where my personal emotional state has had an impact both negative or positive depending on the day”.

4. If you were to start a dance school like your parents, where would it be?

I don’t know… the idea scares me”.

5.You have performed some of the most notable classical roles in your career. Which

Is the closest to your heart?

Hard to answer… better ask the audience”.

You think you performed the best?

On the day, all of them. The following day, none of them”.

You feel you could have done even better?

All of them! The sense of improvement never ends”.

6. Ballet has journeyed through its romantic period to neoclassical to contemporary. How do you perceive the various stages of change?

Art is in constant oscillation and research. It’s human nature to want evolution. Dance is no different”.

7. Dying Swan, the legendary piece you are performing at Sadler’s Sampled was originally made for and performed by Anna Pavlova. Pavlova besides being a renowned Ballerina is known for her multicultural collaborations in dance at a time when the world did not know the term globalisation. What did you think about Pavlova’s path breaking partnerships, for example with Uday Shankar, the Indian dance pioneer? What are your thoughts about two cultures coming together to co- create?

 “Pavlova’s hunger for researching new experiences in her dancing and therefore collaborations was obviously insatiable, and that’s why she was such a pioneer of dance. 

I love cultures coming together…not only in dance…”.

8. Do you see yourself choreographing at any stage?

 ” No. But then… life sometimes surprises you”.

9.Words to live by? Or what would be your advice for young aspiring dancers?

Don’t waste time and don’t worry if the path is not flat. A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner”.

Image: Zenaida Yanowsky as Sylvia in a Royal Ballet production of Sylvia, 7 March 2008. (C) Scillystuff on English Wikepedia

Sadler’s Wells Sampled, features world-class dance and a series of workshops and foyer activities, on Friday 2 & Saturday 3 February 2018. The festival gives audiences a chance to experience the broad range of dance presented at Sadler’s Wells  Following its London run, Sampled will then tour to The Lowry, Salford Quays as part of The Movement, a producing partnership for dance between Sadler’s Wells, The Lowry and Birmingham Hippodrome. Sampled features a wide variety of dance, from classical ballet to hip hop, contemporary and flamenco.
For full line up and ticket information


Family Weekend 14 -15 April Sadler’s Wells— Aracaladanza – Vuelos

Family Weekend, Sadler’s Wells’ annual two-day festival of family-friendly events, returns on Friday 14 & Saturday 15 April 2017-offering something for all ages with fun activities, arts & crafts and workshops complementing the show on the Sadler’s Wells stage: Aracaladanza’s Vuelos. Multi award-winning company Aracaladanza returns to the UK with Vuelos, inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s quest to make man fly. Choreographer Enrique Cabrera uses Aracaladanza’s trademark style to make dancers canter like horses, make a mess at the dinner table, play with fluttering birds and grow wings of their own.
Arcladanza – Choreographer Enrique Cabrera uses Aracaladanza’s trademark joyful style to make dancers canter like horses, make a mess at the dinner table, play with fluttering birds and grow wings of their own, to create a magical show which will make your imagination soar.
In the foyers, there will be lots of activities to entertain before and after the show– free fun, games, crafts and activities, for the whole familyHighlights include an interactive performance, storytelling and ceilidh dancing.
Performance Time
Fri at 3pm
Sat at 11am & 3.30pm
Foyer activites from 1pm to 4.30pm on Friday; and 10am to 5pm on Saturday. Events listed below.
Refreshment 1pm – 3pm FOX GARDEN COURT CAFÉ Family-friendly food served all day with colouring activities to entertain while at table.
Arts & Crafts Activities 1pm – 4:30pm MEZZANINE & FIRST CIRCLE There will be lots of activities to entertain before and after the show. Arts and crafts activities include hat making, origami birds, decorated wooden spoons, stained glass and screen printing sessions.
Ceilidh with The Ceilidh Liberation Front 1:15pm LILIAN BAYLIS STUDIO Featuring a small army of virtuoso musicians collected from the four corners of the land, planted in the soils of Britain’s rich traditional music history, watered by years of playing, exploring, collaborating and innovating, and now blossoming together in this new-old-beautiful-fantastical formation, the CLF combines music, dance, and a generous sprinkling of theatricals to bring this unique experience to the world. Ceilidh music as you’ve never heard (or seen) it before, make sure you bring your dancing shoes. Duration: 45 Minutes
Dance activities Casson & Friends present The Dance WE Made 1:30pm – 3pm ROSEBERY ROOM The Dance WE Made is the Record Breaking interactive dance performance that invites the whole family to be choreographers – no experience required! The project roams public spaces, inviting members of the public to devise original choreography in collaboration with UK based dancer and choreographer Tim Casson and The Dance WE Made Team. The newly created dances are then performed by The Dance WE Made Team at 4pm along with a workshop.
Storytelling with Vanessa Woolf 2:15pm LILIAN BAYLIS STUDIO Vanessa will take listeners on an adventure with a story inspired by da Vinci’s wish to make man fly. This interactive and engaging session will demonstrate the value of hard work, supported by the loving family bond. Duration: 25 Minutes
Performance Aracaladanza – Vuelos 3pm SADLER’S WELLS THEATRE Multi award-winning company Aracaladanza returns to the UK with Vuelos, inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s quest to make man fly. Choreographer Enrique Cabrera uses Aracaladanza’s trademark style to make dancers canter like horses, make a mess at the dinner table, play with fluttering birds and grow wings of their own.Duration: 50 Minutes
Dance activities The Dance WE Made performance and ‘Let’s Make a Dance’ Workshop 4pm – 4.30pm ROSEBERY ROOM Following each performance Dance Artist, Tim Casson of Casson & Friends invites you to make a dance with him in this fun creative dance workshop for all the family. Based on his Record Breaking interactive performance, ‘The Dance WE Made’, this engaging workshop gives everyone the chance to make your own unique dances – with no experience required! It’s accessible fun for all, and celebrates the creativity in everyone, so come along and “Let’s Make a Dance”!
Refreshment-10am – 5pm FOX GARDEN COURT CAFÉ
Arts & Crafts Activities 10am – 5pm MEZZANINE & FIRST CIRCLE
Dance activities Casson & Friends present The Dance WE Made 10am – 11am ROSEBERY ROOM
Storytelling with Vanessa Woolf 10:15am LILIAN BAYLIS STUDIO Duration: 25 Minutes
Performance Aracaladanza – Vuelos 11am SADLER’S WELLS THEATRE Duration: 50 Minutes
Dance activities, The Dance WE Made performance and ‘Let’s Make a Dance’ Workshop 12pm ROSEBERY ROOM
Storytelling with Vanessa Woolf 12:15pm LILIAN BAYLIS STUDIO Duration: 25 Minutes
Ceilidh with The Ceilidh Liberation Front – 1pm LILIAN BAYLIS STUDIO Duration: 45 Minutes
Dance activities, Casson & Friends present The Dance WE Made 1:45pm – 3:30pm ROSEBERY ROOM
Storytelling with Vanessa Woolf-2pm – LILIAN BAYLIS STUDIO Duration: 25 Minutes
Ceilidh with The Ceilidh Liberation Front 2:30pm LILIAN BAYLIS STUDIO
Performance Aracaladanza – Vuelos 3.30pm SADLER’S WELLS THEATRE Duration: 50 Minutes
Dance activities,The Dance WE Made performance and ‘Let’s Make a Dance’ Workshop-4:30pm ROSEBERY ROOM

In conversation with Sharon Eyal of L-E-V, dance company from Israel

L-E-V was born out of a dream shared by its creators Sharon Eyal, Gai Behar and Ori Lichtik, as Eyal expresses – With its tale of thwarted love and fierce passion their production OCD Love is a testament to their love of dance and creative fire within. L-E-V has provided a rare but brief glimpse into the rich dance and performing arts scene in Israel.

In conversation with Forty Nguyen lead dancer of Cirque Eloize – iD

Canadian contemporary circus crew Cirque Éloize blasts back into the West End with iD, a smash-hit show of daring stunts and dazzling theatricality. iD is an exciting family friendly production, blending circus, street dance and hip hop, and comes to Sadler’s Wells’ West End venue, The Peacock, 20 September – 8 October 2016. At the press night performance in London on the 21st September, the show will celebrate its 1000th performance having previously toured the world and visited countries including South Africa, Japan and Mexico.

In conversation with Oscar winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is a Pakistani journalist, filmmaker and activist. She has won two Academy Awards for the documentaries Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015), that made her the First Pakistani Director to win two Academy Awards and one of only eleven female directors to win the award for a non-fiction film. In 2012, the Government of Pakistan awarded her with the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, the second highest civilian honour of the country. Time named her in its annual list of the “100 most influential people” in the world for 2012. Based in Karachi, her documentaries capture key social issues and great moments of contemporary Pakistani culture.
A double bill of “A girl in the River: The Price if Forgiveness” and “Song of Lahore” directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is being screened at the London Indian Film Festival presented by the Bagri Foundaion on 18 July at Picturehouse Central. ( for more information and tickets visit )
As a curtain raiser to the screenings at LIFF Abundant Art presents an interview with Obaid-Chinoy.
I was struck by the thematic similarity between Saving Face (2012) and The girl in the river: the price of forgiveness (2015)- they both focus on oppression and violence against women. Did you feel like this was something you wanted to explore and investigate further after Saving face?
Saving Face and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness both focus on important issues and they, in their own way, speak volumes about the kinds of choices women have in the world and how our lives are impacted by the decisions taken by others. In your career, you are lucky if you come across someone who shatters all your stereotypes. For me, one such person is Zakia.
I was very inspired by the story of Zakia, a woman who was attacked by her husband when she asked him for a divorce. Zakia took the brave step of pressing charges against her husband and took the risk of moving out of his home with her daughter and son. Aided by her children, Zakia underwent treatment and fought her court case simultaneously. Her resolve when facing such unimaginable circumstances motivated me both as a filmmaker and as a mother. I feel lucky to have met Zakia, and am grateful that I had the opportunity to document the journeys of such inspirational women who face such difficult circumstances with poise and determination.
Finding the right subjects is pivotal to the success of any documentary. Do you start off with looking at socially relevant topics and then filter down to the most impacting ones?
I am always looking to bring the stories of marginalized communities to the forefront, and feel strongly about making such narratives accessible to a larger audience. Sometimes I am inspired by something as simple as reading a news article or having a short conversation with someone I don’t know. I want to tell stories from an alternative viewpoint, or question preconceived notions.
What inspired you to make Song of Lahore – the story of the phenomenal collaboration of the Sachal Jazz Band and Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln
I grew up in Karachi listening to my grandfather’s stories of our musical past. He would often talk about the orchestras that played at concerts and the musicians who played on Sunday evenings on street corners. By the time I grew up in the ’80s, all of this was a thing of the past. I lived vicariously through his stories and often wondered what it would have felt to be part of his generation.
In 2011, I came across the story of a group of musicians from Lahore who had come together against all odds to record music using Pakistan’s traditional instruments led by Izzat Majeed a Pakistani businessman with a panache for music. I knew that was a story I wanted to tell so I went online and did more research on the Sachal orchestra. At that time, I had no idea what the group’s journey would be; I just wanted to preserve their voices and their music. And what a journey it turned out to be.
What were your goals for the film when you started and what are you expecting from its impact now that it’s done?
I want people to leave the theatre with a greater understanding of the rich cultural heritage of Pakistan. Song of Lahore moves beyond headlines and stereotypes, and shows that a vast majority of Pakistanis are not perpetrators of religious violence; instead they are victims of it. The beautiful cultural heritage of the region belies its image in the West as monolithically religious, intolerant, and violent. For a Pakistani audience, I feel it’s important to demonstrate the beautiful cultural heritage of the region, its historical support from the Muslim community, and advocate for its protection.
Many Pakistani musicians and music producers such as Rohail Hyatt are credited with a rekindling of interest in the deep cultural and artistic traditions that stretches back generations. You have founded the citizens archive which supports projects aimed at preserving the social and cultural heritage of Pakistan. What makes you feel so strongly about Pakistani and South Asian heritage and culture?
Pakistan is my home; it is where my story began. I was raised in Karachi, and continue to call it home. CAP is an organization that is very close to my heart. It was born out of a pure belief that Pakistan has a rich history and culture and there is a desperate need, now more than ever, to preserve my county’s heritage and make it accessible to everyone. We started with a small team in 2007, and we collectively believed in three main principles that continue to drive us today: to preserve and provide access to the archive, to build and support educational programs, and to develop educational products based on the testimonies collected.
Through the Oral History Project we collect secrets behind old photographs and the personal experiences of our nation’s rich and varied people. These stories ultimately feed the material used in our school outreach tours. Exchange for Change, initiated in 2011, is an exciting initiative by CAP that aims at improving relationships between school students in different countries. This program seeks to help students across borders realize that dialogue is not just possible but sustainable too. Currently this project is running in India and USA.
Today our vision is to develop CAP as the foremost museum and heritage center of Pakistani history, photography, culture, literature, and historical documentation demonstrating the strength and spirit of Pakistan from the perspective of a citizen.
As someone who was raised in Pakistan, went to the US for higher education and equally at ease in both cultures, tell us about your journey of self discovery? What does being a Pakistani mean today?
I see myself as a Pakistani, one who has benefited from a Western education and exposure. I feel that the privilege of having experienced both the East and the West has played a large role in giving me the tools required to tell stories from this part of the world effectively. I remember in 2001, when the tragic events of 9/11 shifted the world’s focus to Afghanistan and Pakistan. I was a print journalist at that time, and had the privilege of growing up in Karachi, and being educated in the United States. As someone who could successfully understand both worlds, I thought that I could play a constructive role in relaying information from the East to the West. Documentary film-making was an organic shift in terms of the content that I was trying to capture; film has a way of bridging differences and providing visceral accounts of situations that may seem foreign or unimaginable in print.
Tell us about your ‘Sulagta Sitara’-a documentary series which is currently being aired on ARY News Channel.
In the year 2002, Pakistan began experiencing the first real wave of terrorism. Suicide bombings, target killings and attacks on prominent politicians and community leaders gripped the country. Today, violence is an assumed part of the Pakistani narrative, and the resultant bouts of heroism and tragedy are glossed over in the steady onslaught of a 24-hour news cycle.
Pakistanis are forgetting their own story; casualties are mere statistics, and spells of violence are often disregarded as nothing more than a logistical inconvenience.
To mark the journey since the first onslaught of terrorism within its borders, we launched a five-part series ‘Sulagta Sitara’, which provides a nuanced depiction of those who continue to tirelessly fight against growing violence and instability across Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar and Swat, in a desperate effort to reclaiming their cities.
Your achievements speak for themselves – As a successful cultural ambassador for a country which is not often kindly portrayed in the media do you have any message for the Pakistani diaspora?
The last few decades have seen many challenges for Pakistan, but it is our responsibility as Pakistanis to unite and find solutions. If we don’t then who will?
Interviewed by Protima Chatterjee

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness is an honest and at times disturbing documentary about one young woman’s journey. After narrowly surviving an attempted honour killing she must maintain the status quo in her village by making peace with her attempted murderers – her own family. Winner of the Best Short Documentary Oscar in 2016.
Song of Lahore is about the musical heritage of the city of Lahore which has always been world-renowned for its music. With the increased Islamisation of Pakistan in the 1970s, many of the city’s celebrated musicians have struggled, but this film spotlights one group, the internationally acclaimed Sachal Jazz Ensemble, who have kept on playing. When their unique mix of traditional music with Western flare gets the attention of jazz supremo Wynton Marsalis they are invited to New York.