18 March 2014, Edinburgh, UK: INALA, a new Zulu ballet featuring live music by four-time Grammy® Award-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo and dancers from the Royal Ballet and Rambert, will make its world debut at the Edinburgh International Festival this year, it is announced today.
The production is the brainchild of British composer, Ella Spira and First Artist of the Royal Ballet, Pietra Mello-Pittman. INALA, meaning ‘abundance of goodwill’ in Zulu, fuses western contemporary and traditional Zulu dance and music, to create a unique, immersive experience reflecting both cultures.
“INALA is influenced by Zulu dancing and South African stories and culture, creating a new language of dance that respects the traditions of ‘pure’ classical dance training of all our dancers,” explains INALA co-founder and producer, Mello-Pittman.
Spira, INALA co-founder and co-composer, worked with members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, led by founder Joseph Shabalala, to write the music, accompanied by piano, percussion and strings. “The group has never annotated its music before, so writing the score for INALA was, in itself, a challenge,” says Spira, “but the passion and culture of Ladysmith soars through and brings the narrative of the ballet to life.”
Ladysmith were brought to international acclaim through their collaboration with Paul Simon on his Graceland album in 1986 and won a fourth Grammy Award in January this year for Best World Music Album.
“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 then the rest of the world. We look forward to giving our audiences a new experience,” says Shabalala.
Ladysmith sing in Zulu and remain on stage throughout the entire 70-minute performance, along with the nine dancers and five instrumentalists. Dancers include Dane Hurst, from Rambert, who was recognised as Best Male Dancer at the Critics’ Circle National Dance awards in January 2014.
Choreographer Mark Baldwin, also Artistic Director at Rambert, remarks: “I am inspired by music and the more I listened to Ladysmith in the early days of the project, the more I realised this style of singing really is suited to dancing. The dancers mix African moves with classical and contemporary dance, using warrior and animalistic poses to reflect the wildlife and culture of South Africa.”
INALA’s costumes are designed by acclaimed designer and former taxidermist Georg Meyer-Wiel, recently awarded the British Museum’s honorary Trailblazer Award by the Campaign for Drawing.
Meyer-Wiel says INALA provides an opportunity to take the audience on a journey in to a world inhabited by “wonderful, neo-mythical being who remind us of our shared roots with other life forms. It is therefore very important the costumes transform the performers into these different characters and give them new identities,” he adds.
INALA is supported by BAFTA award-winning sound designer, Adrian Rhodes, who has created a bespoke soundscape.
The world premiere of INALA will open Edinburgh International Festival on 10 August at Edinburgh Playhouse at 7.30pm, running until 12 August.
INALA will then tour the UK, including London, Manchester and Birmingham: dates and venues to be announced.
Produced by Ella Spira and Pietra Mello-Pittman for Sisters Grimm.