People

Senior Artist
José Alves

Born in Brazil, José started ballet at the age of 13 at the Adalgisa Rolim Ballet School. In 2007 he joined the Bolshoi Theatre School in Brazil and graduated in 2008. In 2010 he attended the Youth American Grand Prix in New York, where he was awarded a scholarship to train with the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company. When he was unable to raise the funds to travel to New Zealand, he joined the Ballet Company of the Young (Palace of Arts) in Belo, Brazil where he remained until 2011. During this time he was also the featured dancer in Ricky Martin’s music video, Samba. In 2012 he joined the Teatr Muzyczny w Łódz in Poland. José joined Ballet Black for the 2012/13 season and was promoted to Senior Artist in 2014. He has danced in original choreography by Javier de Frutos, Will Tuckett, Ludovic Ondiviela and created the roles of Demetrius and Bottom in A Dream Within a Midsummer Night’s Dream by Arthur Pita, and The Son in Mark Bruce’s Second Coming. José then joined Polski Teatr Tańca (Polish Dance Theatre) for a year before returning to Ballet Black in September 2016. In 2017, José was featured in the Company’s revival of Martin Lawrance’s Captured and created the role of Grandma, danced en pointe, in Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa’s Red Riding Hood. He was also one of the lead dancers in the Company’s first live stream on World Ballet Day 2017, dancing in the revival of Dopamine (you make my levels go silly) by Ludovic Ondiviela (2013), broadcast by the BBC.

Senior Artist
Isabela Coracy

Isabela was born in Brazil and began her vocational training at the Centre for Dance in Rio. She has taken part in many festivals and competitions, including the Joinville Festival and Youth America Grand Prix. As a professional, Isabela has danced with Deborah Colker Dance, Sao Paulo Dance Company, CIA Youth Ballet of Rio de Janeiro and has toured Russia extensively. She has danced in many classics: Don Quixote, Raymonda, Swan Lake and Serenade, as well as modern works, Gnawa (Nacho Duato) and The Double (Mauricio de Oliveira). In 2009, Isabela was featured in the documentary, Only When I Dance, directed by Beaide Finzi. Isabela joined Ballet Black as a Junior Artist in 2013 and has since danced in works by Christopher Marney, Javier de Frutos and Martin Lawrance. In 2014, Isabela created the role of Puck in A Dream Within a Midsummer Night’s Dream by Arthur Pita. In 2015, she was promoted to Senior Artist and created the role of The Maiden in Mark Bruce’s production of Second Coming. In 2016 Isabela was featured in ballets by Christopher Marney and danced the role of Burlesque Dancer and Lulu White in Storyville by Christopher Hampson. In 2017 Isabela was a featured dancer in Martin Lawrance’s Captured and created the role of Mother in Red Riding Hood by Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa.

Senior Artist
Sayaka Ichikawa

Sayaka was born in Chiba, Japan, where she began dancing at the age of two. She trained in New York and in 2003 moved to London to study at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. Sayaka graduated in 2006 with a First Class BA (Hons) degree. Since graduating, she has performed with Vienna Festival Ballet and Ballet Theatre UK as a Principal Dancer in Coppélia, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake and in 2009 performed Le Corsaire with American Ballet Theatre at the London Coliseum. Sayaka performed in Ross McKim’s Moving Visions Dance Theatre at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and York Minster. She has also danced for English National Opera and Opera North in their production of Madam Butterfly. Sayaka appeared in the musical The King and I and in the film, StreetDance: the Movie. She has also been a Guest Principal Dancer and Guest Teacher for Ballet Riviera in Switzerland since 2008. Sayaka was a member of the Ballet Black Associate Programme for several years before becoming a Senior Artist with Ballet Black in 2011. Since joining the Company, Sayaka has been a featured dancer in ballets by Jonathan Watkins, Henri Oguike and Martin Lawrance. In 2014 she created the role of Helena in Arthur Pita’s production of A Dream Within a Midsummer Night’s Dream. After a year off to have her first child, Sayaka returned to Ballet Black for the 2015/16 season, where she danced in featured roles for Arthur Pita, Christopher Marney and as Lulu White in Christopher Hampson’s Storyville. In 2017, Sayaka was a featured dancer in the Michael Corder quartet, House of Dreams and danced the roles of Wolf Acolyte and Red in Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa’s Red Riding Hood. She was also one of the lead dancers in the Company’s first live stream on World Ballet Day 2017, dancing in the revival of Dopamine (you make my levels go silly) by Ludovic Ondiviela (2013), broadcast by the BBC.

Junior Artist
Marie Astrid Mence

Marie-Astrid was born in Paris, France where she began dancing at a private dance school before continuing to the Higher National Conservatory of Music and Dance in Paris. She was a member of the Junior Ballet of Paris and danced in works by Jiří Kylián, William Forsythe, Larry Keigwin, Christopher Hampson and Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa. She continued her training as a scholarship student at Alvin Ailey School in 2012 and was invited to dance in Revelations for Judith Jamison’s (Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre) birthday. Marie Astrid joined Ballet Black in September 2014 and performed the lead role of Anna in the children’s ballet, Dogs Don’t Do Ballet (Christopher Marney, 2014), the re-staging of Will Tuckett’s 2009 ballet, Depouillement, and Second Coming, created by Mark Bruce. In the summer of 2015, Marie joined Phoenix Dance Company and had the opportunity to dance in Tearfall and Melt by Artistic Director, Sharon Watson as well as Mapping (Darshan Singh Buller), Undivided Love (Kate Flatt) and Until Without Enough (Itzik Galili). Marie returned to Ballet Black in September 2016 and danced in new ballets by Christopher Marney and Christopher Hampson. In February 2017, Marie was Dancer of the Month in the British dance magazine, Dancing Times. She was also was one of the principal dancers in Michael Corder’s 2017 ballet, House of Dreams, and danced numerous parts in Annabelle Lopez- Ochoa’s Red Riding Hood.

Junior Artist
Mthuthuzeli November

Mthuthu was born in Cape Town, South Africa and started dancing at the age of 15 with the outreach programme, Dance For All. In 2011 he was awarded a scholarship to attend the Cape Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA). After receiving the Best Student of the Year for 2013 and 2014, he graduated with a Distinction in 2014. Mthuthu won a gold medal in the Contemporary category in the South Africa International Ballet Competition in 2012 as a Junior, and again in 2014 as a Senior. He has worked with Cape Dance Company under the direction of Debbie Turner, and with choreographers including Bradley Shelver, Christopher Huggins, Joshua Beamish and Belinda Nusser. More recently he danced in the musical West Side Story. In 2015 he travelled to the UK to perform with Central School of Ballet’s third year touring company, Ballet Central, performing all over the country. Mthuthu is also a choreographer and recently won an award for his piece, Calligraphy. He joined BB as First Year Apprentice in September 2015 and was promoted to Junior Artist in 2016 where he created roles in Arthur Pita’s Cristaux and Christopher Hampson’s Storyville. He made his first ballet for BB, Interrupted in July 2016 and created his own choreographic platform, M22 Movement Lab, collaborating with musicians, composers and designers to create new choreography for stage and film. In 2017 he was a lead dancer in the revival of Martin Lawrance’s Captured, and created the role of The Wolf in Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa’s Red Riding Hood. In 2017, Mthuthu was commissioned by the Cape Dance Company to create a new work for 35 dancers, funded by the National Arts Council of South Africa, which premiered at Artscape Theatre in Cape Town. Later this year, Mthuthu will create a solo for Precious Adams of English National Ballet, for the Emerging Dancer competition and will mount a new ballet for Ballet Black for their London premiere in 2019.

Senior Artist
Cira Robinson

Cira was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she began dancing at the age of eight. After graduating from the Performing Arts School in 2004, she moved to New York to dance full-time with the Dance Theater of Harlem. During her three years there, she performed at the White House for the President of the United States, as well as the Protégé Festival. In 2008, Cira travelled to the United Kingdom for the first time to join Ballet Black. In the summer that year, she danced with Ballet Identity in Los Angeles, before returning to Ballet Black in November. Since 2008, she has danced in Ballet Black commissions by Martin Lawrance, Richard Alston, Henri Oguike, Liam Scarlett and Robert Binet to name a few. She created the role of one of the Furies in Will Tuckett’s Orpheus (2011) and the lead role of Nola in Ballet Black’s production of Storyville, choreographed for BB by Christopher Hampson in 2012 and reprised the part in 2016. In 2013 she was featured in War Letters (Christopher Marney) and received her first nomination for Outstanding Classical dancer at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards in 2014. She also created the role of Titania in Arthur Pita’s Ballet Black production of A Dream Within a Midsummer Night’s Dream, Biff in the BB family production of Dogs Don’t Do Ballet and The Serpent in Second Coming (choreographed by Mark Bruce). In 2016, she was a featured dancer in Arthur Pita’s Cristaux, and in 2017, was a lead dancer in the revival of Martin Lawrance’s Captured. She also created the role of Red in Red Riding Hood by Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa. In 2017, Cira, along with Company Founder, Cassa Pancho, collaborated with renowned British ballet shoe manufacturer, Freed of London, to create two brand new pointe shoe colours to enable dancers of black descent to buy skin-tone pointe shoes ready-made. These will be available to buy in 2018. She also teaches regularly at the Ballet Black Junior School. Cira is generously supported by The Sackler Trust.

Apprentice Artist
Ebony Thomas

Ebony was born in London and started dancing at the age of 5 at the Kingston Ballet School run by Louise Jefferson. He joined The Royal Ballet School Junior Associates where he took classes for three years and was chosen to perform several times with The Royal Ballet Company. At the age of 11, he joined Elmhurst Ballet School where he had the opportunity to perform with Birmingham Royal Ballet, and is featured in the The Royal Academy of Dance syllabus DVDs. Ebony has also danced overseas at the Virginia Arts Festival in the USA. He has performed a wide variety of repertoire, including David Bintley’s Argonauts, Sir Peter Wright’s Coppélia and the Don Quioxte pas de deux choreographed by Marius Petipa. He is delighted to be a member of Ballet Black, and since joining in 2017, has danced in ballets by Martin Lawrance and Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa.