Virago: An empowering exploration of gender and identity

31 Jan 2018

Image: Simon Richardson

Sonia Sabri, Artistic Director of Sonia Sabri Company (SSCo), one of the UK’s leading contemporary South Asian dance and music companies, returns to the UK dance scene with Virago.

Internationally renowned and awarding winning choreographer Sabri presents a new solo digital-dance collaboration with postdigital arts organisation, Ludic Rooms. ‘Exploding’ the concept of contemporary dance, Sabri creates her own individual dance language inspired by Kathak to reflect the unique diversity of modern Britain and examine poignant issues of the day. Edgy, energetic and empowering, Virago blends the grace and vigour of Kathak with urban motifs, powerful projections and mesmerizing movement to explore the complexity of identity.

Based in Birmingham and established in 2003, SSCo is a dynamic company which has established an international reputation for presenting Kathak dance in a contemporary context. Having begun 11 years of Kathak training in classes at Mac Birmingham as a youngster, Sonia later when on to train at a Birmingham School of Acting and Drama and LAMDA and has toured extensively with Sonia Sabri Company. In addition, she has collaborated with numerous high profile and respected choreographers, companies and directors including Richard Alston, Shobana Jeyashingh and more recently Sir Trevor Nunn on the New Wolsey production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Using multiple layers of sound, light and image manipulation, Virago explores the ‘light versus dark’ and the ‘real versus fairytale’ versions of existence, teasing the audience with perceptions and misconceptions of woman, gender and human identity.

‘Virago’ means ‘female warrior’ in Latin and Vira is ‘the brave one’ in Hindi. A Virago is a woman of great stature, strength, courage. The show explores the choices and decisions we must make in life regardless of gender: there is no clear path to do the right thing, only options, and not all are easy.

Sonia’s powerful, poetic and emotive dance language embraces styles from across the globe and a stunning sound-score cleverly combines spoken word with music from rich and diverse influences. Sonia Sabri Company interviewed over 40 women in researching the show and uses their quotes as part of the sound track, producing a cacophony of voices from Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, representing and speaking to women worldwide, but appealing to all humanity, regardless of gender and culture.

Virago is uncompromising, thought provoking and inspiring, challenging our perceptions of identity and gender to encourage respect, acceptance and understanding of all humanity, regardless of religion, age, culture or ethnicity.

Virago will be performed at The Old Rep Theatre on 15 February at 7:30pm. Tickets are available through their Box Office 0121 359 9444 or online on The Old Rep Theatre website.