Choreography Richard Alston & Ajani Johnson-Goffe
Music Shukar Collective tracks from Urban Gypsy
Music courtesy of Riverboat Records/World Music Network (UK) Ltd,
Lighting Zeynep Kepekli
Costumes Peter Todd

“Descending from Indians, the Roma have for generations remained impoverished and virtually nomadic, living on the fringes of society.” Article in New York Times, June 2014

The Shukar Collective of musicians blend age-old tradition with up-to-the-minute percussive beats. Roma voices carry all the longing for roots that lie deep in the nomadic soul. Twenty-first century percussive elements only add intensity to this desolate sadness, so powerfully eloquent of a totally engaging humanity. I find this music profoundly moving, moving in every sense of the word. Its sense of anxiety is restless and the toughness of the ‘Urban’ sounds cannot mask the vulnerability of a community that has historically suffered much persecution, and to escape it moves on.

The movement of nomadic tribes in the desert is something quite different, a progress that is steady and purposeful. The motive of the hunter/gatherer is survival, travelling from one oasis to another as the well dries and food sources are used up. This kind of community works together in order to thrive and function well. In extreme dry heat, movement is measured and gradual, its sole and controlled energy of purpose to reach the next source of food and water.

These very different images of movement from very different cultures are what Ajani and I have talked about and both of us have tried to put into this dance.

Richard Alston

Commissioned by Sadler's Wells for the 20th Anniversary of Richard Alston Dance Company. First performed at Sadler's Wells on 26th January 2015.

Shukar Collective

The recorded music in Nomadic is from the Shukar Collective’s album Urban Gypsy. Shukar Collective play ursari music (ursar means ‘bear tamer’ or ‘bear handler’) using spoons, wooden barrels or darabouka to create a powerful and urgent sound that is at the same time emotional and soulful. The album Urban Gypsy combines Shukar’s original ursari music with the new technology of the collective, resulting in their distinctive sound.


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