Sky1 Competition Winner Akai joins Into the Hoods

What happens when a selection of fairytales ‘evolves into a popular musical and transforms into a hip-hop inspired, funk-a-delic sensation?’

This summer, ZooNation graces Southbank Centre once again with their urbanised spin on the popular musical Into The Woods and this time, they are joined with Akai.

Akai is the winner of the popular ITV1’s reality show Got To Dance. With his outstanding, natural skills in breakdancing, ticking, pop n’ locking and waving, the 11-year-old from Kent will add to ZooNation’s fantastic performance.

‘I am so happy to be part of Into the Hoods. It’s an amazing opportunity and I am going to enjoy every minute of it!’

This hip-hop inspired piece provides social satire by way of dance as well as updated interpretations of classic stories such as Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. ZooNation’s Into The Hoods is not just ‘a show for the kids’ and not just a show you watch to ‘be down with the kids’. It’s known as ‘a show that shakes the seats and rocks the house.’ (Daily Mail)

We’re excited!
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See what others have said about the show:

Beaux Belles Razzle Dazzle!

SHOW GIRLS are cliché? A past time paradise? Beaux Belles eradicates these assumptions with their revival of 1920’s glitz, glamour and cabaret. Their fusions of retrospective and contemporary dance styles topped with elegance, charm and precision are being eagerly awaited by Southbank Centre.

Beaux Belles are a female dance troupe inspired by the Bow Bells of East London. Their range of tap dancing routines based on acts like Bettie Page, Jungle Women, Hula-girls, Pearly Queens, and Love Struck Cupids, welcomes all to smile, bop heads and resist the resistance of dancing with them.

As part of 5 Days in May’s Springtime Cabaret, the troupe collaborates with Marcella and her All Girl Punk Orchestra. ‘It’s an exciting chance to work across-media for us, using both choreographed and improvised work, with live music and live musicians’ says Lexi of Beaux Belles.

With the intent to challenge an environment vastly used for live music and exhibitions, Beaux Belles wishes to engage the audience in their unique cabaret experience. ‘Essentially our work aims to entertain, and allows our audience to sit back and accept ‘entertaining’ as valid creative art.’

It is also their desire to encourage those who have low expectations of cabaret, see their work as creative through exhibition, sculpture, fun and entertainment. Moreover, the group hopes to ‘subvert the cliché’s beauty and symmetry glossing over talent with their professional and well thought out routines.’

Just as they look forward to gracing The Front Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall with razzle-dazzle performances, we look forward to witnessing their interactive, unforgettable performances.

Springtime Cabaret takes place on 7 May and tickets are £8. For more information on other 5 Days in May performances visit:

A Meeting Place – One week to go…

This event will be followed by live Election coverage in Queen Elizabeth featuring big screen live TV and Twitter feeds, a late bar and expert analysis Find out more

I am thrilled to be working on A Meeting Place at Southbank Centre and very excited about the event next week. I recently wrote an article about the role of a dramaturg in relation to dance practice for Dance Theatre Journal. I compared the role I play in a choreographic process to the wild track. The sound recorded on location when the cameras are not rolling. I thought about this as I made my journeys to meet the eight artists involved in A Meeting Place and recorded our conversations in different locations.

Our meeting places were dance studios, train stations, cafes, hotel foyers, a vietnamese restaurant and a former colliery. The notes I made of my reflections on each meeting remain in the margins, or on the blog here. The performance will evolve around my absence from it. At the same time, the process for each artist will be marked by the absence of the others involved in the project. Our challenge was to find a way to create a discursive and performative space to ask where contemporary dance might be now. In Europe. In the UK. In London. At Southbank Centre. At QEH. On 6 May 2010.

That date took on an extra resonance after we started the project. Now the event sits in the shadow of an election and my twenty questions acknowledged this. However, as meetings took place, I became more interested in each artist’s specific signature so the questions evolved into an organic conversation. A conversation that is now opened up to an audience in the way the party leaders’ debates have opened up a different kind of discourse, in a different kind of rhetoric. We will, at least, have our own manifesto as Boris Charmatz has proposed an ‘electrified talk’. And the post-show talk that Nicky Molly and I host on the night will be followed by live election results in the bar. The artists will not physically meet in the same space until the day before the performance and this will be a careful context for negotiations to take place. Each artist will spend time in QEH and open their rehearsal up to others to input, to find potential for cross-party collaboration.

The event will not be a showcase of eight artists work but a night that evolves through a process. A process that is made visible and audible as we play excerpts from interviews I recorded in each of my meetings. A Meeting Place is marked by its own making. As each artist presents a response to the questions in their own vocal, physical or choreographic vocabulary. We might consider A Meeting Place in the way Siobhan Davies describes the work of a ceramicist who produces a number of different pieces in a short space of time;

‘Each in its difference brings about a different reaction and when you collect them together, they work as a community, and give us the potential for a different response.’ –

A Meeting Place

This event will be followed by live Election coverage in Queen Elizabeth featuring big screen live TV and Twitter feeds, a late bar and expert analysis Find out more

A Meeting Place is one of the highlights of our 5 Days in May festival – a short season for the dance curious introducing international dance artists and choreographers to London for the first time.

We are absolutely delighted that writer, artist and dramaturge Michael Pinchbeck has been helping us to devise this special event – meeting with all the artists and challenging them with twenty questions. Over the next couple weeks, he will be blogging about this special project – so keep checking back with us to read more about how it is all going! It’s going to be a fantastic evening – click here to read more and to buy tickets.

More about A Meeting Place
On 6 May, eight leading international dance and artists and choreographers will join us on the Queen Elizabeth Hall stage. They have been tasked by our artistic programmers Nicky Molloy and Eva Martinez, and Michael Pinchbeck to creatively reveal, amongst many things, what they are currently focusing on in their dance career and how their works sit on the international dance and performance scene.

Taking part are:
Lea Anderson (the Cholmondeleys and Featherstonehaughs)
Siobhan Davies
our very own Artist in Residence Gauri Sharma Tripathi
Stine Nilsen and Pedro Machado (Candoco Dance Company)
Boris Charmatz (France)
Thomas Lehmen (Germany)
Eszter Salamon (Hungary)

Click on their names to read a bit more about what Michael has been speaking to them about.

Malavika Sarukkai – Friday 9th April

Being a regular visitor to India, I was very much looking forward To Malavika Sarukkai’s Bharatanatyam Solo inspired by the river Gangees. On stage left were siting four musicians , Neela Sukhanya providing Nattuvangam – playing two cymbals of different metal alloys, Murali Parthasarathy on Vocals, M.S.Sukhi on percussion and Srilakshmi Venkataramani on Violin. The musicians played a haunting melody as the lights dimmed and we prepared for the dance. We heard Malavika before we saw her, heard the tinker and clash of the bells around her feet that would prove a constant reminder of the tinkering of the River Ganges on which the pieces were based.

Malavika spoke to us, in that beautiful way that only Indian English can achieve, about the themes and inspirations present in each dance piece before she danced them – talking about “Liquid Harmonies” and the interplay of young lovers as they met on the rivers banks. These English introductions gave a taste of what  imagine was some beautiful poetry sang over the music as she danced, which, alas, was not in English.

As the dances commenced I was struck by the control and efficiency with which Malavika moved, recreating turns and meanderings of the river Gangees from the roll of her shoulders and the flex of a wrist, which, combined with some beautiful lighting and the constant mouth watering music made for a truly beautiful performance.

My only reservation was that at times the pieces felt quite repetitive which I fully admit could be down to my lack of experience with the Bharatanatyam style and it’s subtle intricacies, and indeed not being able to understand the poetry being performed over the dance, a fact that made me want to run to India and take every language lesson going. By the end of the night the audience was mesmerised and after an hour and forty-five of non-stop gorgeous dancing, Malavika received a well deserved standing ovation.

Joseph Coelho

Yoga at Alchemy Festival

I’m aware that Yoga is not a type of dance, although my shaky attempt at it this morning may well be considered to be some type of ‘performance’. However neither does it fit into the Literature and Spoken Word, Gigs or Classical Music blogs, so I’m placing my little experience of Natasha Ahmad’s yoga class here. (Please forgive any mistakes in yoga terminology that I make within this, and feel free to correct me!)

So my flat-mate and I ventured to the Southbank bright and early in the glorious sunshine in an apprehensive, but extremely positive state of mind. Being two students who barely exercise, let alone meditate or practice yoga, we did wonder if this lesson would be the push needed for us to turn our lifestyles around and start treating our bodies well. When we arrived to the cool space of the Clore Ballroom, I was relieved to be assured by the gentleman next to me that it was his ‘first time’ too and once Natasha had come to speak to all the beginners individually I was completely relaxed as I knew I didn’t have to attempt anything I didn’t feel comfortable with. Although, it didn’t help that I had set up my yoga mat next to a very bendy yoga-queen.

Natasha teaches Shadow Yoga, a form of hatha yoga that helps you to control your breathing in order to control your body and mind. Her soothing voice talked us through some initial breathing exercises, which helped us to focus and be conscious of inhaling and exhaling, then some exercises that heightened awareness of body parts, before we moved on to some sequences that were beginner friendly but adaptable for the more experienced among us, like yoga-queen. Whilst I never expected yoga to be easy, at 21 years old I did expect to be able to bend over and touch the floor without bending my knees. I also expected to be able to stand on one leg without falling over. Neither was the case unfortunately but practice makes perfect, and when I was lying in ‘corpse pose’ at the end of the session and feeling with each exhalation my body melt into the floor, I made the decision to join my local yoga class. Both my flat-mate and I left Natasha with giddy goodbyes, feeling generally more relaxed and in tune with our bodies and ready to embrace the rest of the day. The description for this event said that by keeping our bodies and minds in tune through yoga, ‘we might improve our health in our organs, our emotions and our dealings with the external world’ and I can see how this could be the case- it’s not just the sunshine that’s made me feel so good today.

Natasha’s remaining classes are in the Clore Ballroom, at 10.15am on Saturday and Sunday.

Alchemy guest bloggers to cover our UK and Asian culture festival right here

There will be some exciting coverage and comment from our Alchemy guest bloggers coming over the next couple of weeks in response to the Alchemy festival April 7th – 11th 2010 which celebrates innovative, classical and contemporary artists from India, UK and South Asia.

Watch our interview with A R Rahman

Festival highlights include the London Philharmonic Orchestra performing many of the best-known works of the celebrated Slumdog Millionaire composer AR Rahman and BBC Asian Network DJ Nihal’s Desi Live a musical project bringing together three UK Bhangra heavyweights H-Dhami, Jaz Dhami and Juggy D on one stage with a full live band for the first time ever!

More info about Alchemy events/book tickets here

Watch exclusive rehearsal footage of Nihal’s Desi Live