Jeffery Taylor, Sunday Express 2019
“Ballet with an African rhythm”
By Jeffery Taylor
This moving and exhilarating piece of theatre is billed as a “Zulu Ballet” with vocals from the Soweto Gospel Choir.
INALA means “abundance of good will” in Zulu and the 26-strong company of dancers, singers and musicians deliver that from the moment they take to the stage. Rarely so you see performers smile so broadly at an audience, appearing delighted to see us. Together they explode in a fusion of South African rhythms and Western influences, snappy songs and dance, all delivered with infectious enthusiasm. Proceedings begin in a village at daybreak then move on from the big city- louder freer, yet more dangerous- taking in rich harmonies and rap. The experience is as unique as spellbinding.
The cast are so expressive that you don’t need to read the explanatory text but it contains lovely lines such as “I have found the one! I have seen a nice lady and I want to pay the dowry (cattle) and marry her!” There is no curtain, simply a line of musicians and singers across the back of the stage with a vast cloudy panorama as a back cloth.
The choir dance constantly, the professional dancers moving between them or gathering in groups and beaming straight at the audience throughout.
Dancers Hicaro Nicolai and Nafisah Baba seem to blend in with the crowd until suddenly they’re alone on stage where they respond to choreographer Mark Baldwin’s musicality and passion with a quiet, irresistible tenderness.
Nicolai was rightly chosen to take centre stage. Following his earlier deeply-felt passion with Baba, his solo was a statement to the world, performed with quiet conviction. Nicolai shows how dance can illustrate the workings of the human heart.
His closing number with Adelene Stanley showed how happy dance can make us. I have rarely felt so comforted and welcomed as a member of an audience.