DanceXchange and Sampad (South Asian Arts and Heritage) announce five exciting new artistic appointments for The Centre for Advanced Training for South Asian and Contemporary Dance (CAT), as it enters its tenth year.

Both DanceXchange and Sampad are thrilled to announce the appointments of Artistic Associates Kerry Nicholls, Aakash Odedra and Shane Shambhu, and Principal Artists Mira Balchandran Gokul and Sonia Sabri. Working with our outstanding delivery team, they will steer the CAT’s artistic leadership and vision, and ensure exceptional technique training and mentoring, enabling each and every student to reach their full potential.

The Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) programme, is an elite training opportunity for young people aged 11-18, who show exceptional talent and potential in Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Contemporary styles. The Contemporary strand, Dance Generation, recruits young people from the West Midlands, and the South Asian strand, Yuva Gati, is a national programme, recruiting students from across the country. The opportunity to study Bharatanatyam and Kathak at this elite level is unique to this CAT within the UK.

The CAT aims to nurture and develop confident, highly skilled, creative and adaptable dance artists, with exceptional dance technique – and to prepare them for the rigours of professional dance training and future careers in dance.

Piali Ray OBE – Director, Sampad said: “We are delighted to have an outstanding new artistic team on board, eager to share their experience, passion and ambition with this year’s cohort of talented young dancers as they embark upon their journey towards a professional dance career.”

Debbie Jardine – Interim CEO, DanceXchange said: “We see tremendous potential for this programme to be an international exemplar and are committed to ensuring our offer is of exceptional quality and can continually evolve and develop in response to the demands of the dance industry.”

The new appointees are delighted to join the team.

“I am eager to help make the Birmingham CAT a game changer for a new generation of talented young artists. As dancers, I look forward to provoking them to stretch intellectually, to harness their confidence, and to encourage them to understand their own artistic personality. All this whilst working closely with the Bharatanatyam and Kathak strands – sharing best practice and exploring a fusion of physical ideas.” Kerry Nicholls, Artistic Associate for Contemporary 

“I am excited to be part of the CAT, helping to carve a path for the next generation by making such an important part of our heritage current and relevant, and empowering our talented students to build a strong artistic identity for themselves and the whole field.” Aakash Odedra, Artistic Associate for Kathak 

“I am very excited to be selected as Artistic Associate for Bharatanatyam and looking forward to working with Aakash Odedra, Mira Balachandran Gokul and Sonia Sabri and developing forward strategies for young South Asian dancers with the wonderful team who have put in so much already.” Shane Shambhu, Artistic Associate for Bharatanatyam 

“At this stage in my career, I want to devote my efforts to exploring and maximising the role of Bharatanatyam for the 21st-century student. I look forward to working with the team of CAT teachers and artists to create a space where the young dancers can reflect upon and beyond the rigours of technique, language and poetry of the artform.” Mira Balchandran Gokul, Principal Artist for Bharatanatyam

“I am looking forward to sharing my experience as a performer, choreographer and teacher with the students and together embarking on a journey of self-discovery and endless creative possibilities.” Sonia Sabri, Principal Artist for Kathak