Robert Tanitch reviews Inala, A Zulu Ballet, at Peacock Theatre, London WC2
Rambert Dance Company’s artistic director Mark Baldwin in 2014 teamed up with the Grammy triple Award-winning, legendary Soweto Gospel Choir to create a celebration of 20 years of democracy in South Africa.
The show won critical and popular approval and is now back.
The producers of the show, Sisters Grimm, are Royal Ballet dancer Pietra Mello-Pittman and composer Ella Spira.
In a programme note they write “Inala was born out of a desire to unite different cultures, artistic disciplines, back grounds and celebrate diversity, giving an equal voice to all in one space.”
The show, a fusion of South African and Western cultures and styles in song, music and dance, brings together ballet, contemporary dance and traditional Zulu tribal dance.
The music is a fusion of Ella Spira’s music and Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s music. The songs are sung in Zulu. The voices soar and delight. There are no sur-titles.
Inala is said to be a story about togetherness, home and community but the story-line is so vague you needn’t bother about it.
The stage design is simple – just a few packing cases. It is easy to imagine this being performed out in the open air.
The cast is drawn from current and former dancers of The Royal Ballet and Rambert Dance Company. The choreography is by Mark Baldwin whose advice to the cast in rehearsal was “Think like a bird.”
The buoyant classical jumps and twists, part human, part animal, part bird, make you think of gazelles and flamingos. There is much joy on stage. The costumes include black leather skirts for the men. Some dancers wear tribal masks and plumed headdresses.
Inala is easy to listen to and easy to watch. There is so much joy on stage. There is an abundance of good will on both sides of the footlights.