B i o g r a p h y

Photo credit: Luca Latrofa as featured by Vogue London

Qualifications

Sonia has completed all the ISTD Vocational Kathak Qualifications, with consistently high distinction exam scores (average 87%). She also passed all her IDTA Bronze, Silver and Gold medals in modern and latin ballroom dancing with top Honours grades.

Academically, Sonia holds an undergraduate degree in Human Sciences (BA Hons) from the University of Oxford (2007-2010) and is a qualified chartered accountant (ACA) trained in London.

Positions of Responsibility

In addition to being Artistic Director of SLDC, Sonia also serves as Trustee on the Board of UK Young Artists, an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation based in Nottingham.

Childhood

Born and brought up in Kenya, Sonia began her dance training in ballet at the tender age of about 2.5 years under Jean Hughes (nee Koch) at the Little Theatre Club in Mombasa. She began learning Indian folk, Bollywood and classical dance four years later at Shivam Performing Arts.

At the age of 13 years, Sonia performed her debut full-fledged solo Indian dance performance at the Bandari Auditorium in Kenya, choreographed by Bharti Pathak.

Despite spending much of her childhood dancing, Sonia has a strong academic record, achieving the highest mark in the world on her Edexcel ‘O’ Level English Literature exam. In 2004, Sonia left for the UK on a Mathematics scholarship to study the International Baccalaureate at Sevenoaks School, and then took a gap year.

Gap year highlights include winning the London Regional Final of the Boogie Woogie Dance Competition and training as an actress for film and theatre at Anupam Kher’s Acting School in Mumbai.

Sonia began her formal Kathak training with her Guru Sujata Banerjee in 2010 and furthers her development by practising frequently and pursuing workshops by Senior Artists such as Pandit Birju Maharaj, Saswati Sen, and Kumudini Lakhia among others.

Sonia has toured as a Senior dancer with the Sujata Banerjee Dance Company across cities spanning India, Spain, UK and the USA. She also works with various other organisations and dance companies including Akademi, Birmingham Dance Network, Kadam, Pagrav Dance Company, Amina Khayyam Dance Company, Arunima Kumar Dance Company, Drishti Dance Company and Annapurna Dance Company.

 

She was awarded the UK National Milapfest Yuva Nritya Runner Up Scholarship in 2015 and presented her London debut of solo classical Kathak with live musical accompaniment at the Rich Mix Theatre (in central London) as part of Akademi’s 2016 NAVODIT programme for talented emerging artists.

 

Sonia performed a trio of solo works choreographed by Sujata Banerjee at the NCPA Theatre (Mumbai) in December 2017 as European Regional Winner of the Kalashram Kathak Competition. Other solo highlights include performing at 'Introducing...' part of Birmingham International Dance Festival 2018 and the Inspire Women Awards 2018 at the Reebok Stadium. 

Sonia has presented her own choreographic work at various venues across the UK including the Nehru Centre, London for Vidyapath’s Essence of a Woman (2017) and at Somerset House, London for an Akademi commissioned performance as part of London Fashion Week (2018). She spent the latter part of 2018 choreographing a few short solos, a duet and a group dance with performances across Manchester, London, Birmingham and Glasgow. 

In Summer 2019 Sonia's first company production "Eleven, twelve, thirteen" premiered at the OFS Theatre as part of the Oxford Offbeat Festival - the show comprises multiple collaborations of Kathak, spoken word poetry and British Asian music. Sonia has also commenced work on her first full fledged solo production "Breaking Ground" commissioned by Sampad and supported by Arts Council England and an R&D grant from the British Council new Art new Audiences programme. 

This Autumn Sonia will continue her pursuits as Artist in Residence at the Artsdepot (Finchley, London) and also looks forward to commencing work on a new piece commissioned by Dance Hub Birmingham to be shared in November 2019.

The global interest in Kathak dance’s modern day story-telling abilities within a classical framework is growing and Sonia aspires to make a significant contribution. She is thus interested in creating and performing innovative work that is thought provoking and resonates with new audiences.

Don't hesitate to contact Sonia for any bookings / enquiries.

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Please direct all bookings and enquiries to info@sonalisa.co.uk