Sadler’s Wells’ Zikr charts Flamenco’s journey with post-punk producer Youth

Zik'r at Sadler's Wells

Zik'r at Sadler's Wells - Credit: Archant

On Wednesday, an extraordinary dance show comes to Sadler’s Wells for a special evening performance as part of a world tour that began in India and Morocco.

A magical and spiritual journey, ZIK’R offers a path towards the “divine” through dance and music. Created by celebrated musician and producer Youth together with the acclaimed flamenco dancer and singer Karen Ruimy, its narrative follows a story of exile, passion and survival, while the music tells a tale of separation pain and the agony of the soul.

The central theme of the show follows flamenco’s journey from India to Spain and the idea of an eternal music called Sufi.

“Soul music – that’s how Bob Dylan describes it,” says Youth, who used to play in post-punk band Killing Joke and has recently produced the new Echo and the Bunnymen album. “I think that’s a good description. Sufi is music made from the soul; it doesn’t have to imply a religion, it’s spirituality without religion almost.”

Having travelled last February to perform at the World Sufi Spirit Festival in Jodhpur, India, long-time collaborators Youth and Ruimy were struck by the ancient music’s ability to transcend time and unite cultures.

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It was around this idea that they decided to base the show and, joined by an ensemble of extraordinary multi-talented musicians, they will explore the cross-cultural roots of world music, offering a sound-clash of Qawwali, Egyptian and Moroccan traditional sounds which collide with the wild untamed intensity of the flamenco spirit.

For Moroccan born Ruimy, ZIK’R is a very personal journey as the music incorporates the Jewish, Arabic, North African and European elements that are in her blood. “For me it’s the most personal show I’ve ever done, it’s really going into my routes and it’s a soul journey really, so it touched a lot of my DNA.

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“It’s sensitive for me and emotional sometimes. Yet exactly the thing we were trying to reach with Youth is also touching the universality of the people and we’re hoping to do that through the music.”

However, even for south Londoner Youth, their travels to India and experiences of Sufi proved a deeply personal experience. “It goes beyond the artifice of religious description to something much older, and I think that’s partially what attracts me to this music,” he adds. “They’re little portals and bridges from the present to the very ancient and it can almost feel like it dissolves time.

“You are literally seeing those years fall away and you penetrate a timeless space and that’s very magical, very transcending and very… shamanic, I suppose.

“I found it very personally illuminating, nourishing and enriching all round and I’d recommend anyone to go to that festival and experience it for themselves.”

Zik’r comes to Sadler’s Wells this Wednesday. For tickets, visit

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