Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Salyama and Payapaya

Ballet Nimba , Chapter , September-29-11
Salyama and Payapaya by Ballet  Nimba One of Cardiff’s best kept artistic secrets burst on to the Chapter stage, grabbed us ,mind, body and spirit and fed us a cherished hour of the most exciting and dynamic African dance imaginable. The company has been in existence for just two years and is proving to be a company of the highest quality in its field. Set up by Artistic Director, Guinea born Idrissa Camara; he has energy and passion that is a clear inspiration to this superb youthful group of dedicated dance artists.

This is not ballet as you may know it but Nimba is the joy of life living and we have it here by the bucketful. The dancers, three men and three women are all extraordinarily fit and perform to an African beat that demands great skill and dexterity. It takes the breath away as feet seem at times to be going in the opposite direction to the legs. Camara’s choreography demonstrates that he is steeped in the African dance tradition but not afraid to embrace the world of more modern dance. The solo work that brings the evening to a climax is the most brilliant exhibition of strength and art, traditional and modern that surely must be some of the best around. There were two stories told in dance and if the narrative was not too clear the sheer wonder of the dancing was totally captivating.

The accompanying musicians are an equally strong part of the performance, there’s an amazing Fulani Flute player, a beautiful Ngoni a slim West African acoustic guitar. And some fantastic percussionists who bang their hearts out on a fascinating variety of African drums.

In contrast the evening was opened by the tall dark figure of guest star Suro Susso, from Gambia giving a short but delightful recital on the Kora, an African harp with a half of a large calabash for the sound box played with a combination of thumbs and fingers. It was a joy to watch and hear this master of his instrument at work, a perfect relaxed introduction for the ‘mayhem’ to follow.

Cardiff should be proud to be home to this fantastic troupe and if you want to celebrate the joy of living spend an hour with Ballet Nimba.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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