Inala – review

The South African choir, Lady Smith Black Mamboza (LBM) famous for their soft and soothing tones are paired with Rambert and Royal Ballet dancers for this dynamic performance of contemporary dance and song. Integration and unity made Inala a feast for all of the senses!

Inala show landscape poster

The show started with a simple stage set of barrels and chairs, the hum of activity from dancers co-operating with singers spawning imagery of a daily life: morning by the docks with comical parrot like animals looking on at the human activity; moving onto savannah peace between lovers, animal and human alike.

Skills were shared between singers and dancers performing fishing tasks and later the task enveloped the whole company. I could feel the life emanating from this simple yet vital activity. Unlike the colour and spectacle you might find at a carnival, this piece opted for a subtle yet sumptuous sunset evening look with leather costumes and shapely tribal masks.

Combined with live percussive performances from plucky xylophones, muted drums and haunting strings, the grace of the dancers against this backdrop and the soothing tones of the LBM created a very strong atmospheric yet subtly magic experience.

I loved the small injections of comedy. An individual performer would be offered the stage to solo and some would perform magnificent leaps and jumps while a couple would look like they would swing into action, but then they shrugged and change their mind. I think it helped the show keep that sense of humanity and variety.

The singers definitely came into their element in the second act when the drama shifted into a rousing concert experience enhanced and interpreted by the dancers. Hats off to the soloists performing rap-like melodies but in the soothing tones that is very definitive of LBM. You could feel the passion and expression through the language barrier and connect on another level.

This collaboration took the choir outside their usual bounds but was a triumph of performance and we look forward to seeing what kinds of collaboration they may take in the future.

Words by Christy Boxall

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