In July 2020, Cassa Pancho, the Artistic Director and Founder of Ballet Black, was the LBC’s inaugural guest on Zoom. Almost a year later, she acted as host to the Senior Artist of Ballet Black, Cira Robinson. Having talked about how Cira came to London from her birthplace in Ohio and via the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the conversation turned to the 30+ roles which Cira had created with Ballet Black. She herself had valued the collaborative process and the stimulus it provided enormously. She mentioned some ballets where the need to inhabit her characters had helped her to grow as a person. It was clear from what they had written about Cira that the choreographers’ she had worked with had appreciated her artistry – in particular, her ideas, her intuition, her intelligence, her responsiveness, her theatricality and how she got inside a role.
Cira also talked about the challenge for a ballet dancer of embracing a wide range of styles; how she appreciated being part of the Ballet Black family and the extent to which the pandemic had made her realise how much she needed to dance. This was important, not just for her but “as a symbol of representation”. “I’m proud of who I am and what I’m part of”, Cira added. Expanding on this in response to an audience question, Cira emphasised that, wherever the Company danced, whatever the size of the theatre or stage, there would be people in the audience who would be seeing the show, or indeed ballet, for the first time and it was vital for the dancers “to be there for them all”.
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[In the photo by LBC, Cira is at the bottom and Cassa at the top.]