“The act of migration puts into crisis everything about the migrating individual or group, everything about identity and selfhood and culture and belief.”       

                                                                                        ~ Salman Rushdie

‘Breaking ground’ is based on Artistic Director Sonia’s family’s migration story - tracing her grandmother's move from her motherland Gujarat (India) to the fertile lands of Kenya in the 1940s, and culminating with Sonia's own journey to the UK decades later.


Using innovative Kathak dance, metaphorical poetry and a specially commissioned music score, the show unpacks the highly-relevant emotional conflicts that arise from multicultural identity. It explores how we experience the world through the lens of our personal, accumulated “cultural baggage”. As more layers get added to this baggage, does it get harder to find ourselves within it all?


In keeping with our Company ethos. ‘Breaking Ground’ is a show for all ages, and one for different generations to watch together. It is likely to appeal to audiences across cultures, and those interested in issues around the impact of migration on culture and identity.

Photo credit: Simon Richardson


Concept & artistic director: Sonia Chandaria Tillu

Choreographer: Urja Desai Thakore

Music composer: Shammi Pithia

Poetry composer: Wobusobozi Amooti Kangere (with support from the Lantern Meet Foundation of Poetry in Kampala, Uganda)

Dramaturgy: Lou Cope

Performed by: Sonia Chandaria Tillu


Photographer: Simon Richardson

Filmmaker: Rehmat Rayatt

Bloggers: Two Brown Girls


Commissioned by: Sampad

Grants: Arts Council England and British Council

Space partners: Pagrav Dance Company & Aakash Odedra Company

Fundraising credit (ACE): Nina Head

Critical friend & mentor: Tara Lopez (Spark Arts)

Production mentor & Leicester performance host: Samir Bhamra (Phizzical Productions)

Critical friend & marketing support: Piali Ray (Sampad)


24 June 2019: Workshop at King Edward School, Birmingham

1 July 2019: Workshop & sharing at Rushey Mead School, Leicester

13 July 2019: Sharing at 'Introducing.... 2019" by Birmingham Dance Network

29 July 2019: Kathak workshop at Balaji Temple, Birmingham

23 August 2019: Sharing at Atternborough Arts Centre, Leicester 

16 September 2019: Week long Artsdepot residency

30 November 2019: Breaking Ground premiere at MAC Foyle Studio, Birmingham by Sampad [Book tickets]

"How vividly dance can convey such a wide range and delicacy of feelings and emotions - moving in every sense of the word."

(Feedback from Birmingham Dance Network sharing of Breaking Ground, 13 July 2019)


Migration is an experience that is both shared, yet unique. So while the show is based on Sonia’s personal family history, it has been hugely informed and influenced by numerous conversation with British Asian communities in the UK and abroad.

Groundwork included discussions with representatives from Birmingham’s Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre to understand life in Gujarati villages and a research trip to Kenya (supported by the British Council).

Breaking Ground is available for touring from early 2020.

Contact us to bring this production to your venue


© 2018 | Sona Lisa Dance Ltd trading as Sona Lisa Dance Co. is a Private Company limited by shares registered in UK 

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