Inala means abundance of goodwill in isiZulu. The show was conceived five years ago to mark 20 years of democracy in South Africa to celebrate freedom, democracy and diversity. Inala was created by Sisters Grimm, multi-award-winning choreographer Mark Baldwin OBE, and features Ladysmith Black Mambazo with current and former dancers from the Royal Ballet and Rambert. The score of INALA was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2016. For this London run, the dancers are joined by three-time Grammy Award-winning South African choral legends, Soweto Gospel Choir, who has performed with artists like Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Queen, Bono, Annie Lennox.
Although Inala has not a story in it (or if there is one, I did not get it), it is a show with excellent performances and so many wonderful moments.
The dynamic band, directed by Thomas J Indige accompanies the great vocals and harmonies of the Soweto Choir, who has an impressive stage presence and energy: because most of the audience don’t understand Zulu, I was wondering if it might have helped to have subtitles or a paper explaining the meaning of the songs.
Flawless performances from all the dancers, each one bringing an individual flavour to the show: a mixture of ballet and contemporary styles, by choreographer Mark Baldwin, that not always organically blend with the songs. A mention to the beautiful costumes by Georg Meyer-Wiel.
Inala is a joyful show, a perfect example of true diversity. A standing ovation well deserved
Leaving the theatre, a young woman asks me if I enjoyed Inala. I answer that I did. Then she turns to the friend who invited her to see the show, thanking her because she loved it – a show that probably she would have not seen if her friend did not invite her. They are so happy, almost jubilant. And, at the end of the day, this is theatre. An art that brings people happily together.
It runs until 18 May
Photo: Johan Persson