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Inala: A Zulu Ballet With Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre Review

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Ballet And Modern Dance Fused With Zulu Music & Culture
The title - Inala - means the 'abundance of goodwill' in Zulu and that's how you will feel about this show after experiencing such a vivid and glorious combination of music and dance.

Mesmerising music and dance in the show Inala

Inala A Zulu Ballet fuses together South African and Western cultures using the talents of just 18 dancers and singers.

The mesmerising music is provided by the extremely talented and charming Ladysmith Black Mambazo while the dancing is by world-class current and former dancers from The Royal Ballet and Rambert.

I saw the show at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham where it stopped off during its UK tour from July 27 to 29. It started its tour here last year as a celebration of 20 years of democracy in South Africa,

Inala features singers from South Africa's Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

The production had already received acclaim for its sell-out runs at both the Edinburgh International Festival and London's Sadler's Wells, so it had a lot to live up to - and it didn't disappoint.

Multi-award winning choreographer Mark Baldwin is behind the expressive dance movements that manage to bring an essence of African tribal dance while also elegantly making dancers seem more like flamingos, birds and other wild animals in the South African plains. The eye-catching costumes and animalistic headwear help too.

He has expertly managed to blend sensual and thumping movements from Zulu traditions with languid stretches and lifts associated with classical ballet and contemporary dance. Not an easy feat but masterfully done.

Ballet and modern dance are fused with Zulu culture in Inala

Pietra Mello-Pittman, First Artist of the Royal Ballet, who helped create the concept of Inala, had described the production as being influenced by Zulu dancing as well as South African stories and cultures to create "a new language of dance".

That comes across clearly, especially with standout performances from dancers Jack Thomson, Julia Davies and Jacob O'Connell. Add to that the superb live soundtrack, you feel like you are being transported to another continent, lying under the stars or fishing with the engaging singers as the sun sets. The whole show sends a ripple of approval through the senses.

South African choral legends Ladysmith Black Mambazo became a household name after working with singer Paul Simon on his 1986 album, Graceland. Since then, the group has won four Grammy Awards, including their latest in January 2014 for Best World Music Album.

Exquisite dancing from a talented cast

The group's harmonies are sensational, as relaxing as they are distinctive. Their personalities also manage to shine through as they take part in mini dance-offs with the professionals and act out a few scenes in the beautifully lit stage that helps recreate their homeland.

It's a talented cast all round and this Inala tour gives a privileged opportunity to hear one of the most respected choral groups in the world serenading beautiful scenes of dynamic dance. Make sure you don't miss it before they head back to South Africa.

Rating: 9/10

Inala featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo
New Alexandra Theatre
July 27 - 29
The show is around 2hrs long including an interval.

Tickets cost from 22.90 to 42.40 from the theatre's ATG Ticket website.

Visit the Inala website for further tour details.

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Why? See world-class Zulu music and ballet brought together
When: July 27 - 29
Phone: 0844 871 3011
Where: New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham
Cost: 22.90 - 42.40
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