The winner of the Contemporary category of BBC Two’s Young Dancer 2015 competition, 17 year old Jacob O’Connell, is one of five young dancers from The Rambert School who are joining the Inala UK tour from 23 June 2015.

Jacob started contemporary dance at Swindon Dance CAT scheme when he was 11 and trained there for five years whilst also performing with Swindon Youth Dance Company. He successfully auditioned for The Rambert School of Ballet and contemporary at the age of 15 and is now in his second year. During his time at Rambert, Jacob has performed at Central St Martins and The Royal Opera House.

Jacob O’Connell is joined on the Inala UK tour by other Rambert School graduates, Sharia Johnson and Robert Bridger, alongside Adeline Stanley and Jack Thomson who both graduated from Rambert last year and return to Inala for a second year.

Jacob is a second year student at The Rambert School, so will be released to take part in the Inala UK tour and will then return to the school in September for his final year of training.

Amanda Britton, the new Principle and Artistic Director of The Rambert School says; “The Rambert School acknowledge Jacob’s exceptional talent and we are thrilled that he has been given a contract for Inala. It is a first for the school to release a student from second year to accept a professional contract and we are proud of the fact that five out of ten dancers on the Inala tour are from The Rambert School.”

Pietra Mello-Pittman says; “It is great news that BBC Two’s Young Dancer 2015 Contemporary winner, Jacob O’Connell, is to join the Inala tour along with five other graduates from The Rambert School. They are certainly all of a very high standard and choreographer Mark Baldwin and I are extremely confident that they will all shine as performers in Inala.”

The other five dancers on the Inala UK tour are; Devaraj Thimmaiah, Julia Davies, Cara May Marcus, Ashleigh Wilson and Che Milani.

Following a phenomenal 2014 tour and sell-out runs at both the Edinburgh International Festival and London’s Sadler’s Wells, INALA brings together four time Grammy Award-winning South African choral legends, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and multi-award winning chorographer Mark Baldwin, in this unique artistic collaboration for a creatively reworked production that starts a UK tour from June 2015.

INALA, meaning ‘abundance of goodwill’ in Zulu, delivers a spiritually uplifting live experience, powered by a cultural explosion of music, song and dance. Featuring world-class current and former dancers from The Royal Ballet and Rambert, this critically acclaimed production embraces an exhilarating fusion of South African and Western cultures live on stage, to create a unique, immersive experience that reflects both cultures.

INALA’s original score is composed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joseph Shabalala and British composer Ella Spira, who created the concept of INALA with First Artist of the Royal Ballet Pietra Mello-Pittman. Blending the intricate rhythms and infectious harmonies of their native musical roots with live percussion, piano and strings, Mark Baldwin’s choreography unites Zulu traditions with classical ballet and contemporary dance, performed by an exceptional company of 18 dancers and singers.

Pietra Mello-Pittman says: “We brought many different styles to the table and this wonderful fusion happened as a result of the exchange of ideas from within the company. Inala is very accessible to all ages because it joins so many different elements together, appealing to so many different tastes. For anyone who may be interested in seeing a broad spectrum of ages performing side-by-side equally, then we have an age range from 17 to the mid-60’s, who are all playing to their strengths. Topped with amazing music and dancing, Inala makes for an incredibly feel-good show.”

Ella Spira says: “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”.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo were brought to international acclaim through their collaboration with Paul Simon on his 1986 album, ‘Graceland’. They went on to win four Grammy Awards, including their latest in January 2014 for Best World Music Album.

Joseph Shabalala says: “It has always been our mission our spread our South African culture as widespread 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”.