Ballet Black: 'At the moment, we're the only company in the UK that can tell this kind of story'
- Kelly Apter
- 6 June 2019
Ballet Black's artistic director Cassa Pancho discusses finding the right voices and the right balance in their triple-bill
In a few short years, Sophie Laplane has gone from company dancer with Scottish Ballet to its choreographer-in-residence – and now a sought-after dance maker outside Scotland. Her latest triumph took place in March, when Ballet Black premiered Laplane's new work Click! at the Barbican in London.
'We get requests pretty much constantly from choreographers who want to do something with us,' says Ballet Black's artistic director, Cassa Pancho. 'But as we're quite a small company, we can only make so much new work in a year. Sophie is someone who's been at the top of my list for ages, and being from Scottish Ballet she already understands what it's like to be a ballet dancer and to dance en pointe.
'I said to her, I want something really enjoyable, because the other two pieces in the triple-bill are heavy. I knew Sophie had a very quirky, fresh and individual style, and she came up with a gorgeous, fun piece that gets the biggest cheer at every performance.'
The 'heavy' pieces Pancho refers to include a return of Martin Lawrance's popular Pendulum, and a powerful new work titled Ingom by Ballet Black dancer, Mthuthuzeli November. A fusion of ballet, African dance and singing, Ingoma looks at the struggles of black South African miners in the 1940s.
'We've wanted to take on more issues that relate to our own cultural backgrounds for a while,' explains Pancho, 'but we're very aware that we need the right voice to tell those stories. In our long history, we've worked with a minute amount of black choreographers, but our dancer Mthuthuzeli came to us having already worked as a choreographer in Cape Town. At the moment, we're the only company in the UK that can tell this kind of story and it's really been resonating with our audiences.'
King's Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 8 Jun.