Sonia Chandaria Tillu Announced as Recipient of 2019 Norma Abbott Dance Bursary

21 Nov 2019

The Norma Abbott Dance Bursary awards £500 to one recipient annually to support West Midlands-based emerging dance practitioners with their professional development. This year’s recipient is Sonia Chandaria Tillu; a Kathak dancer/choreographer and Artistic Director of Birmingham-based Sonia Lisa Dance Company, established in November 2018.

The bursary will enable Sonia to offer a fresh new perspective on her future dance practice, building the foundations for a strong, innovative and unique outreach dimension.  Sonia will work with legendary UK-based South African percussionist, composer and poet Eugene Skeef, to:

  • Receive formal training in the intricacies and possibilities of African rhythms, exploring rhythmic connections and synergies with South Asian dance and opening up new dance possibilities;
  • Observe excellent creative leadership practice whilst devising a new, rhythm-based multi-cultural dance workshop directed at two groups, children and young people and university dance and theatre students.

The bursary was set up in 2015 by Norma’s husband, Peter Abbott, in her memory. Norma Abbott worked as a Customer Service Assistant at MAC for many years, and was a keen dancer and a tireless advocate for participation in dance. Peter said, “Norma’s love of dance gave our family the impetus to create the bursary. We hope the bursary winners will go on to pursue their dance careers as a result of the award. It’s great that the memory of Norma will live on in such a creative way and we look forward to seeing how their careers progress in the future.”

Join Sonia on Sat 30 November at 8pm for a brilliant dance performance entitled Breaking Ground at MAC. This brand new work is a classical and contemporary kathak story of migration and identity, set to a stunning score written by Shammi Pithia. The work has been commissioned by Sampad, and supported by Arts Council England and British Council. Tickets are now available online here.

The call-out for the 2020 Norma Abbott Dance Bursary will be announced in autumn 2020. Please contact Nicola Saunders at for further information.