Junior School Teachers
Of Trinidadian and British parents, Cassa trained at the Royal Academy of Dance, gaining a degree in classical ballet from Durham University. Upon graduating in 2001, she founded Ballet Black in order to provide role models to young, aspiring black and Asian dancers. A year later, she opened the BB Junior School in Shepherd’s Bush. Cassa is also a graduate of the 2009 National Theatre cultural leadership programme, Step Change. Since starting the Company, she has commissioned work from a wide range of choreographers, including Liam Scarlett, Richard Alston, Javier de Frutos, Annabelle Lopez- Ochoa, Shobana Jeyasingh, Henri Oguike, and Will Tuckett. Ballet Black won both the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Company in 2009 and Best Independent Company in 2012. Cassa was awarded an MBE in the 2013 New Year Honours List for Services to Classical Ballet and has served as a judge on the panels of both the Kenneth Macmillan Choreographic and BBC Young Dancer competitions. In 2015, Cassa was appointed a Patron of Central School of Ballet and in May 2016 became a vice president of The London Ballet Circle. In 2017, she joined the Ballet Now consortium in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet. Also that year, Cassa, along with Senior Artist Cira Robinson, 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. In 2018, Cassa was awarded the Freedom of the City of London. To date, she has commissioned 32 choreographers, to create over 40 new ballets for the Company. Cassa also teaches regularly at the BB Junior School in Shepherd’s Bush, West London.
Reena trained at the Royal Academy of Dance, graduating with a BA (Hons) in Ballet Education, as well as achieving further qualifications with the Imperial Society for Teachers of Dancing. After qualifying, she began working as a freelance performer – including dancing in the London 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony. Reena currently teaches for the Junior School of Ballet Black, her own dance school, and for RAD HQ. She also tutors on the RAD’s Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies programme for trainee ballet teachers, and is a Practical Teaching Supervisor on the BA Dance Education programme. Reena was also the Chairperson of the RAD’s London & Middlesex Regional Advisory Committee for 5 years, and is currently working towards an MFA in Dance Science at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire in Greenwich, undertaking a year-long research project looking at the sleep of professional ballet dancers.
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.
Isabela was born in Brazil and began her vocational training at the Centro De Dança 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 Project Deborah Colker, São Paulo Companhia de Dança, Ballet Jovem do Rio de Janeiro, Companhia Brasileira de Ballet and has toured Russia extensively. She has danced in many classics: Don Quixote, Raymonda, Swan Lake, and Serenade, as well as modern works and the Carnival parades in Brazil as a dancer. 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 dancing 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 and danced in Martin Lawrance’s ballet, Limbo. 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. In 2018, she created roles in Cathy Marston’s The Suit and reprised her role as Puck in BB’s 2018 re-staging of Dream. Between 2019 and 2021, Isabela danced in new works both live and on film by Sophie Laplane, Mthuthuzeli November, Hope Boykin, Will Tuckett and Martin Lawrance. In 2022, she created roles in Black Sun by Gregory Maqoma, and collaborated with Cassa Pancho and the Company to create Say It Loud, a celebration of BB’s 20th anniversary. Isabela is an Ambassador for Gaynor Minden, teaches for the BB Junior Associates, online ballet classes and workshops as a guest teacher. In 2021 Isabela became a Ballet Be Fit instructor and launched FredaBela a new collection of Ballet Skirts as a creative designer in collaboration with FredaSilk. In 2022, Isabela received an award from the Black Cultural Archive as one of the 40×40 Black Future Young Leaders for 2023.
*Annaliese Neubauer is currently teaching for our junior school as maternity cover for Chris-Louise.
Chris-Louise trained at the Royal Academy of Dance gaining a BA (Hons) in the Art and Teaching of Ballet from Durham University and was also awarded the Licenciate of the Royal Academy of Dance, one of the highest accolades for excellence in teaching.
Chris-Louise has also gained her Licentiate in Modern Theatre Dance and the Certificate in Dance Education for Tap with the Imperial Society of Dancing; she is currently training towards her Tap Licentiate.
Chris-Louise has taught and choreographed in various schools and productions throughout Berkshire, Surrey, Hampshire and London, as well as delivering various workshops including the RAD South- East Regional Awards heats. She teaches enjoys teaching a variety of students, from young children dancing as a hobby to vocational both practical and theoretical dance-related subjects, currently teaching vocational students at Sharpe Academy and Kingsclere Performing Arts College.
Chris-Louise also tutors on the ISTD Diploma in Dance Education course for Linda Sweetzer TTC, Judith Hockaday School of Dance and Drama, and Myra Tiffin Performing Arts School