This winter, Cassa Pancho’s Ballet Black return to the Royal Opera House, celebrating 21 years of pioneering art with a double bill of new and original work. Award-winning choreographers Will Tuckett and Mthuthuzeli November come together to offer an extraordinary evening of entertainment, performed by Britain’s ‘most diverse and daring ballet company’ (Broadway World).
The first work, Then or Now, was originally created by Will Tuckett in 2020. Urgent and emotional, the piece blends classical ballet, music and the poetry of Adrienne Rich to explore the themes of connection and belonging, and the delicate relationship between individual happiness and community need.
The second, Nina: By Whatever Means, is devised by Mthuthuzeli November and inspired by the artistry and activism of Nina Simone. Structured as a series of vignettes, this vibrant, moving and empowering work weaves a skilful picture of the singer’s turbulent and influential life, letting ‘Nina Simone’s passion, rage and glory ring out loud and clear’ (The Telegraph).
Founded in 2001 by Artistic Director Cassa Pancho, Ballet Black is a multi-award-winning, neo-classical company dedicated to diversifying the ballet industry. The Company is made up of international dancers of African, Caribbean and Asian descent who perform a varied repertoire from some of the best emerging and established choreographers from around the world. Recently, they won Best Mid-Scale Company for 2021 at The National Dance Awards and two Black British Theatre Awards: the first for their 20th anniversary double bill Say It Loud and Black Sun; the second for Best Use of Innovation and Technology in their film Eightfold. Previous awards include an Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production (Ignoma, choreographed by Mthuthuzeli November). The company made waves in 2018, when they collaborated with Freed of London to launch new shades of brown pointe shoes – the first of their kind in the United Kingdom. Only a year later, they performed to great acclaim with celebrated grime artist Stormzy on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. Their work over the last two decades has provided a vital platform, and invaluable support, for young, aspiring dancers of Black and Asian descent.