Storyville was a big hit with audiences and critics
packed with dash, daring and joie de vivre
I don’t know much about ballet, but I know what I like. And I like Ballet Black.
showcasing grace and ingenuity to eager spectators
Cira Robinson and Mthuthuzeli November enact courtship to music by Steve Reich in Pita’s ambitious new work Cristaux
Mixed triple bill from a lively, likeable company, with Christopher Hampson’s Storyville making a strong return
It’s impossible not to like Ballet Black, a small company with big ideas
precise, perfectly executed and full of star quality
a company that provides positive role models to young, aspiring black and Asian dancers.
All up, another win for Ballet Black
Ballet Black triple bill – an erotic Jack and Jill meet voodoo pirates. Works by Kit Holder, Will Tuckett and Mark Bruce showcase the company’s considerable range
It has become the norm for each Ballet Black season to showcase a new one-act ballet that utilises all its dancers (once just six, now grown to eight), which is building a distinctive repertory of substantial works by some of the best choreographers around.
Now in its 14th year, Ballet Black made its name as Britain’s first ballet company for black and Asian dancers, but has built its reputation as a small ensemble with a commitment to new choreography that punches above its weight.
It’s typical of Ballet Black that this clever, enterprising company should be the first to commission a work from Mark Bruce, in the wake of his award-winning production of Dracula. Typical, too, that the result, Second Coming, shows us such new things about choreographer and dancers alike.
While ballet has a long way to go in addressing these issues, there are plenty of dancers in the contemporary realm who are actively working to change the white-washed, body oppressive world of ballet. Behold, 17 ballet icons who are changing the face of dance
Star of the evening is unquestionably Arthur Pita’s A Dream within a Midsummer Night’s Dream which manages to be magical, funny, beautiful and anarchic while distilling the essence of Shakespeare’s most popular comedy into a heady post-classical concoction.
Kudos to choreographer Arthur Pita for giving us possibly the first lesbian kiss in ballet. His new piece for Ballet Black, A Dream Within a Midsummer Night’s Dream, also offers up mambo in pointe shoes, Bottom and Titania getting it on to the sounds of Barbra Streisand and a female Puck in a boy scout uniform and stick-on beard.
Arthur Pita’s A Dream Within A Midsummer Night’s Dream shows Ballet Black’s dancers at their most classical – then gleefully twists that upside down in a burst of Shakespeare-inspired mayhem. The company have never looked better.
Ballet Black review – oldschool charm, newage wit
BB’s new mixed programme at the Royal Opera House shows off the company’s considerable strength and range
This is repertory that any large company would be happy to own. And the heroic Ballet Black have managed it on a shoestring.
IN TWELVE short years, Ballet Black has made quite a name for itself, winning prestigious awards and forging an enviable link with the Royal Opera House. What it hasn’t done however, is visit Scotland – until now.
Ballet Black is the black diamond in the crown of modern ballet and once again has pushed the boundaries. Catch them touring if you can.
A whistle-stop trip to Russia immediately after this show has allowed the rare luxury of the overall scope and flavour of an ambitious quadruple bill of new work to simmer in my consciousness before writing this review. To begin with let’s consider the rarity of that brief statement – a “quadruple bill of new work”: We may not experience such a programme that often
The opening half of the show is fun-time for the dancers, a trio of short works giving them a chance to shine. Ludovic Ondiviela’s frothy love duet Dopamine (You Make My Levels Go Silly) is the pick, a hyperactive fizz of first love, but Robert Binet’s Egal and The One Played Twice by Javier de Frutos aren’t far behind, the pure joy of dance spilling out from every step.
Ballet Black, the award-winning company founded to provide role models for black and Asian ballet dancers, is now 12 years old. It has established its own identity, which is as much about new work as it is about the colour of the dancers’ skin. It’s a small, sparky company with plenty of ambition and swagger.
The award-winning company of black and Asian dancers founded by Cassa Pancho in 2001 comes storming back onto the Linbury stage with a toothsome quartet of works. A brace of duets, an amuse-yeux from dance jester Javier de Frutos and a full-blooded narrative contribute to an immensely varied and satisfying programme.
There should be no need for a company called Ballet Black, just as there should be no need for all-female political party shortlists. But there is, and for two reasons: to offer a platform for classically trained dancers of colour, particularly women, conspicuously absent from Britain’s big ballet companies; and to provide role models for a rising generation of talented kids. But in the 12 years of Ballet Black’s existence, it has found itself a third raison d’être. It’s hard to think of another small company that even comes close to its turnover of new work.
Perhaps the most impressive of Pancho’s achievements is that over the years she has commissioned more than 30 danceworks.
Ballet Black may struggle against an inexplicable lack of state funding, yet it continues to make a heroic investment in new choreography. This season its adventurous policies pay dividends with Javier de Frutos’s new piece, The One Played Twice.
Ballet Black is a professional ballet company for international dancers of black and Asian descent. We aim to bring ballet to a more culturally diverse audience by celebrating black and Asian dancers in ballet. We perform and offer community driven classes for dancers and students, young and old. Our ultimate goal is to see a fundamental change in the number of black and Asian dancers in mainstream ballet companies, making Ballet Black wonderfully unnecessary.
My admiration for Cassa Pancho and her company knows no bounds. Embarking on its eleventh year, Ballet Black opened its 2012 season with four world premieres by “Premier League” choreographers with these – now traditional – curtain-raising performances at The Royal Opera House. This season at Covent Garden is longer than in previous years and the company has doubled its performance dates for the year, which will also see it venture overseas, in a first visit to Italy…
Ballet Black, Linbury Studio Theatre, London Zoë Anderson Now eleven years old, Ballet Black has a confidence and spark. Initially founded to promote black dancers in classical ballet, the company has become an end in itself. This is a taut evening of new work by rising and established choreographers, fluently…
Ballet Black – review Royal Opera House, London by Judith Mackrell Sex and corruption … Storyville, performed by Black Ballet at the Royal Opera House Ballet Black may have been founded as a platform for black and Asian classical dancers, but you have to love it, too, for the opportunities…
Short Dance Works/Ballet Black – review by Clifford Bishop – 02 March 2012 Now over ten years old, Ballet Black showcases four energetic and inspired new dances at the Royal opera House Six decades after George Balanchine first cast the black dancer Arthur Mitchell opposite a white ballerina, and in…
Ballet Black – review Linbury Studio theatre, London by Luke Jennings, The Observer, Sunday 4 March 2012 Creating repertoire for a chamber ballet company is tricky. How do you ring the changes, given sparse resources and a mere handful of dancers? Ballet Black, now in their 11th year, have had…
“Ballet Black is a small miracle of a company..”
“Ballet Black’s vivid choreography experiments with the delicate paradoxes of the orchestrated and the discordant…”
“… the company evoked classical ballet with plenty of piroutes, pas de deux, and stunning point work, without the formality and stuffiness of traditional ballet…”
“the brand-new work of the season, Orpheus, by Will Tuckett – the first narrative work Ballet Black have staged – is a triumph.”
“The “blindfold” sequence is especially good, clearly conveying their love and longing…”
“…has magicked into being a neo-expressionist chamber ballet whose sombre tone is counterpointed by storytelling of shimmering clarity.”
“The company’s energy and maturity is the best birthday present.”
“A ballet company to watch…”
“Ballet Black’s sixth season at the Linbury Studio Theatre is a mixed bag of playful and energetic approaches to ballet…”
“Oguike has never created a classical ballet before, and it’s typical of Ballet Black’s intrepid commissioning style to have invited him to make a work.”
“Ballet Black keeps getting better.”
“…a finely-balanced exercise in melting, romantic softness.”
“…until dancers of colour are properly represented in Britain’s big classical companies, this small beacon of excellence will have an inspirational role to play.”
“…the company look fleet and fantastic.”
“The dancers are sleek and focused, the choreography new, while the whole enterprise has a sparky assurance.”
“…For unflagging energy and unstoppable spirit, Ballet Black is phenomenal….”
“…The choreography has a clean edge and a strong and distinctive personality that exudes warmth…”
“…this small ensemble a repertory that is often fresher and more revealing than the programmes of larger companies….”
“…director Cassa Pancho has put together a neo-classical programme that would shame bigger troupes…”
“…There’s a tension between toughness and elegance in the work which is always technically impressive…”
“…Fluent, fluid and bringing colour to the ballet scene…”
“… the commitment to new work is pretty much unparallelled in the UK…”
“…the latest programme features some of the most original new ballets to be shown this season…”
“…speed and thrusting energy within a context of constantly zigzagging movement…”
“…dancers moving crisply, with well-focused partnering and buoyant solo work….”
“…a company with an astonishing amalgamation of strength and elegance…”
“…Cassa Pancho is a dance person with a mission — in her case, as the founder (in 2001) of Ballet Black, to establish more role models for young black and Asian dancers in classical ballet in Britain…”
“…The sight of gorgeous Monica Stephenson strutting her Balanchine style in a tiny white bikini, or tall Damien Johnson streaking out in a series of diagonal jumps of radiant poise and finish – leaves such qualms looking quite absurd…”
“…For all this, credit to Pancho, and credit to her six young dancers who have poise and enthusiasm and allure. At the Linbury they showed a tenacity you do not always see in heritage troupes, and although very much fledglings, they had the commitment of old pros… ”
“…as the choreography flexes its emotional muscle, with a crackle of combative dance, the electricity on stage promises a brave future for this company…”
“…The programme was popular with the audience with some at the end calling out and stamping, as though at a football match…”
“…The stealth of a gazelle poised with the grace and elegance of a Nubian spirit is the only way one can describe the amazing opening of Ballet Black’s current season of works by four choreographers…”
“…Pancho founded the company in response to her own question: “If no one is providing role models and inspiration to young dancers, how will we integrate the art form more fully?…”