Zulu beats meet ballet at Playhouse in Inala

Inala:  Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Pic: Comp
Inala: Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Pic: Comp
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ZULU beats, world class ballet and the choral brilliance of award-winning South African vocal troupe Ladysmith Black Mambazo merge on the stage of the Playhouse tonight and tomorrow to deliver what has been called ‘a spiritually uplifting live experience, powered by a cultural explosion of music, song and dance’.

When Inala premiered at the Festival last year, it played to phenomenal reviews. This week, at the Greenside Place venue, a new creatively reworked production is ready to reinforce that success.

Inala:  Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Pic: Comp

Inala: Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Pic: Comp

Inala, which means ‘abundance of goodwill’ in Zulu, is the creation of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and multi-award winning choreographer Mark Baldwin. It features dancers from The Royal Ballet and Rambert dance companies.

Embracing an exhilarating fusion of South African and Western cultures, it is a unique, immersive experience that reflects both ways of life.

With a score composed by the Grammy Award-winning choir, Joseph Shabalala and composer Ella Spira, who created the concept of Inala with First Artist of the Royal Ballet, Pietra Mello-Pittman, the piece blends the intricate rhythms and infectious harmonies of their native musical roots with live percussion, piano and strings.

Baldwin’s choreography unites Zulu traditions with classical ballet and contemporary dance, all of which is performed by a company of 18 dancers and singers.

Inala:  Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Pic: Comp

Inala: Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Pic: Comp

Mello-Pittman explains, “Inala is influenced by Zulu dancing and South African stories and cultures, creating a new language of dance that respects the traditions of ‘pure’ classical dance training of all our dancers”.

Ella Spira adds, “The group had never annotated its music before, so writing the score for Inala was in itself a challenge, but the passion and culture of Ladysmith soars through and brings the narrative of the ballet to life”.

With more than five decades of performing to their credit, Ladysmith Black Mambazo were brought to international acclaim through their collaboration with Paul Simon on his 1986 album, Graceland, and have since gone on to win four Grammy Awards, including their latest in January 2014 for Best World Music Album.

Shabalala says, “It has always been our mission to spread our South African culture as widely as possible, so it is very important for us to bring Inala to the UK and the rest of the world. We look forward to giving our audiences a new experience.”

Inala, The Playhouse, Greenside Place, 7.30pm, tonight and tomorrow, £22.90-£45.40, 0844-871 3014