The award-winning dancer-choreographer is artistic director of Sonia Sabri Company which has established an international reputation for presenting Kathak dance in a contemporary context
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
I was born in Wolverhampton but moved to Birmingham when I was four. I started dance classes at six and Kathak at seven. Kathak is a classical dance form like ballet. Sonia Sabri Company was launched in 2002. Our first production was Drishti, a digital dance collaboration involving projections, motion captures and light responsive technology. We were the first South Asian dance company to have done it within the South Asian sector. We tour nationally and internationally and are the resident company at Birmingham Hippodrome. I was recently appointed resident artist at Curve theatre, Leicester. I also sit on the board of Birmingham’s DanceXchange. I have worked with the likes of Sir Trevor Nunn, Arlene Philips, Marion Tait, Jonzi D, Richard Alston, Shobana Jeyasingh and Nitin Sawhney. I have been a mentor and choreographer for BBC 4’s Young Dancer.
IT’S WHAT I DO
I aim to empower others through the power of dance. I’ve worked with communities of different backgrounds and particularly women, especially from Asian, Arabian and Black communities. The Company has co-designed several projects with and for women, catering for health and wellbeing needs. We have worked with world-class artists and engaged with audiences of two million in this year alone.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
In some communities there is a mindset where the young Asian girl is to grow up with the ultimate goal of simply getting married and starting a family. I believe every woman is dynamic and strong and should have a choice to lead her life the way she wishes. My aim is to reach out to women and girls and give them confidence and mentorship. Professionally, one of my many ambitions is for the Company to collaborate with Birmingham Royal Ballet. Two classical artforms, Kathak and Ballet, coming together to create magic!
I have been learning about cognitive and neurological development in adults. This is a personal learning for me and will help support the way I teach dance. Professionally, the biggest success so far has been how the Company has transformed its work for the digital world, reaching a global audience in lockdown.
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
Stay calm, have faith and always listen to your gut. Do not wait on people, get on and do things that need doing.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
I love lots about our diverse city. I relish meeting people of all backgrounds. I enjoy the juxtaposition of new and old architecture, top quality world cuisine, the arts community – and all the greenery.
Sitting in the garden and observing nature or escaping into a romantic film from the golden era of Bollywood.
I am excited to be working on several dance collaborations which we are looking at touring this year, here in the Midlands and across the country.