Asian Music and Dance

The West Midlands

The West Midlands is by far the most ethnically diverse English region outside London, with large south Asian communities in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry. This diverse ethnic mix has contributed to the development of  West Midlands as a major cultural hub for south Asian music and dance in the UK.  

Birmingham, which has ambitions to become a ‘World’ city partly through the creative industries, is projected to become the UK’s first city where the minority ethnic communities form the majority of the population. The scale and diversity of the city’s south Asian music and dance organisations is rich, and includes leading teachers of classical south Asian art forms with professional experience in a contemporary British context.  

The largest organisation, sampad south Asian arts, is a leading cultural development agency that has helped to establish south Asian arts within mainstream culture in Birmingham and across the UK.  Through production, promotion, performances, advocacy, education and outreach activity using diverse art forms originating from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, sampad nurtures and supports British Asian Arts and communities. Says Baroness Christine Crawley: “Through its creative development of south Asian Arts, sampad has given us a vision of how truly and deeply unselfconscious multicultural life can be in Birmingham and beyond.” 

Birmingham enjoys a healthy and strong level of youth dance activity, as exemplified by the groups appearing in Raw Energy at DanceXchange (National Dance Agency for Birmingham and the West Midlands) and Asian Spring organised by sampad. In recognition of the demand to provide opportunities for exceptionally talented young people wanting to pursue south Asian dance, the West Midlands will soon be home to the UK’s first Centre for Advanced Training for south Asian and Contemporary Dance. The centre, a partnership between sampad and DanceXchange, will provide children with local access to the best available teaching, facilities and links with the dance profession. 

Meanwhile young and old alike can take advantage of an array of Birmingham-based dance classes open to those who would like to master their skills or simply have a go at south Asian dance. DanceXchange, a partner organisation with Birmingham Hippodrome and housed within the theatre complex, is a hub of dance activity, offering classes in kathak, bharatnatyam and Bollywood bhangra. Workshops, courses and training opportunities are also provided by organisations such as Bollywood Dreams Dance Company and Sonia Sabri Company. 

Together with its growing number of training opportunities, the West Midlands is home to a diverse range of venues committed to hosting quality south Asian arts events.  Such venues include mac, The Drum – a venue dedicated to developing and promoting British African and Asian arts, Town Hall & Symphony Hall, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham Conservatoire and Birmingham Jazz. 

A diverse community demands a diverse cultural scene, which is reflected by the development of dedicated arts organizations such as Ulfah Arts in Birmingham. Ulfah, a unique and pioneering south Asian arts organisation, acts as an umbrella to a number of initiatives specialising in faith and the arts. It has spent the last four years working with faith and music, pushing boundaries and developing new audiences. Ulfah have developed two performance groups – the Ulfah Collective and the Divine Aubergines (a singing Islamic world music group). Ulfah works with a range of partners responsible for programming artists for events and festivals and has carried out significant work around audience development with faith communities.

Just north of Birmingham, Wolverhampton also enjoys a vibrant arts scene thanks to organisations such as Light House Media Centre, Surdhwani, and The Arena Theatre. Light House is an independent company offering production courses, new exhibitions, films, educational activities, conferences and events, as well as two major annual festivals and a myriad of activities that develop and support the growing creative industries in Wolverhampton and beyond. Surdhwani promotes some of the finest Indian classical musicians and dancers from around the world, while The Arena Theatre has a diverse range of programming.

Thanks to its diverse cultural arts scene, it is no surprise that the West Midlands is home to a wealth of artists of regional, national and international acclaim, not least; Apache Indian – an international pop artist, Harjinder Matharu – one of the UK’s best known tabla players, Sanchita Pal – one of the UK’s most accomplished North Indian Classical vocal artists, The Dholblasters – a group of accomplished dhol players who have toured the globe, Nahid Siddiqui – an internationally renowned kathak dancer and choreographer, Hina Chavda -an award-winning Bollywood dancer and teacher, Aakash Odedra – founder of the hugely successful Aakash Odedra and company, Pritam Singh – an Indian music consultant, teacher and composer with over 50 albums to his name,  Chitraleka Bolar – a well respected bharatanatyam dancer, and Reena Tailor – founder of Bollywood Dreams Dance School.

Region Listings



A key promoter and producer with a strong programme in developing and promoting south Asian music and dance.


Sonia Sabri Company 

Established to present kathak in new spaces and contexts, and to new audiences and develop a distinctive, contemporary style of kathak.



Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton

A superbly compact, reasonably priced, state-of-the-art complex. 

Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham

A brand new arts venue, scheduled to open in autumn 2008. It will feature musicals, dance, drama, comedy, children’s shows, community performances and workshops.

Midlands Art Centre, Birmingham

A pioneering venue that has provided culture for thousands of families with a broad programme of drama, music, crafts, independent cinema, dance and more.

Town Hall, Birmingham

Acclaimed at its opening in 1834 as the finest music hall in the country, this Grade I listed landmark has been lovingly and painstakingly renovated to provide a range of performances. 

Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Symphony Hall opened in 1991 to immediate public and critical acclaim. With its world class acoustics and stunning auditorium it is considered to be not only the UK’s finest concert hall but also one of the best in the world. 


Aakash Odedra

Teacher and performer of contemporary and Bollywood dance.

Bollywood Dreams Dance

Offers training courses and performances.


Chitraleka Bolar


A well respected dancer and teacher of traditional bharatanatyam dance.  


Housed in the theatre complex and creates exciting opportunities for people to engage in dance. It offers classes in Bollywood, kathak, and bharatanatyam dance.


Elmhurst School for Dance

A specialist dance school, Elmhurst offers the highest standard of dance training, combined with a strong academic education and a caring environment. 


Nachda Sansaar

Award-winning Indian folk Bhangra dancers.


Nahid Siddiqui

Internationally known kathak dancer, teacher and choreographer.


Pritam Singh


Indian music consultant, teacher, composer in Indian percussion and tabla. 

Sanchita Pal 

Sanchita Pal is one of the most accomplished North Indian classical vocal artists resident in the UK today.




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