Legacy Dance Co. was given the privilege to witness INALA’s Southeast Asian premiere in Singapore as they held their 4-day tour stop, from 19th to 22nd June 2019. INALA, defined as the abundance of goodwill in the Zulu language, is a “Zulu ballet conceived to mark the 20 years of democracy in South Africa and to celebrate diversity today” (Inala official website, 2019). The show builds itself around the storyline of a group of villagers moving away from their home to the city, where they felt agony and sorrow living in a space they did not feel a sense of belonging, leading them to return to their blissful villages, leading the simple life that they enjoy.
We had the opportunity to participate in the pre-show where we managed to catch the cast members warming up for the show, led by head choreographer Mark Baldwin OBE. It was an instantly refreshing experience as the cast warmed up to the snapping of Mark Baldwin’s fingers rather than music or counts. The warm up also included some very familiar techniques, for those who attended Chelsea’s genre courses (Sign up here if you’re interested to learn) or have taken C/D classes under Chelsea. We were extremely amazed by their absolute control of their core as they did their warm up technique sets. It also made us wonder how many years of training and hard work they had to put in to be able to achieve such finesse.
Joining the INALA cast was Soweto Gospel Choir, singing the scores in the Zulu language. With their captivating voices, they filled up the entire stage even before the cast began dancing. The lighting and how the shadows came into play to create either a warm feeling of home, or a cold feeling to represent the city as a concrete jungle, were all elements that enhanced the show and made us feel so much more towards the characters. The rhythmic grooves of the choir as they also danced along next to the cast builds on the very concept of the African culture that they wish to portray, making some of us move to the beat as well. Despite the entire score only having one line in English, we felt the expressions that the choir conveyed and were moved by the intention of the show.
From each cast member’s solo pieces, followed by pair choreography and also group choreography, the show was strung up together beautifully. The show was completed with the choir also pairing up with the dancers to showcase some of their groovy moves. It was evident that the performance was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience, resulting in a standing ovation when the cast took their curtain call.
INALA has brought to us, not just another performance, but an inspiring piece that taught its audience how we could create our own and open up more potential and opportunities for budding dancers and artists. Their excellence in their craft definitely motivated us to become better at ours.