Dear friends & followers of Ballet Black,
I am in equal parts immensely proud and very sad to announce that after fourteen wonderful years with Ballet Black, Cira Robinson will be stepping down as Senior Artist. Cira joined BB in 2008, dancing in ballets by an array of choreographers, including Liam Scarlett, Sophie Laplane, Henri Oguike, Shobana Jeyasingh, Martin Lawrance, Will Tuckett, Robert Binet and Sir Richard Alston, to name a few. Since 2012, Cira created lead roles in almost all our narrative work, including Storyville (Christopher Hampson), A Dream Within A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Arthur Pita), Red Riding Hood (Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa), The Suit (Cathy Marston) and Black Sun (Gregory Maqoma), as well as being a lead artist in our more abstract works such as Ingoma (Mthuthuzeli November) and Then Or Now (Will Tuckett).
In 2009, Cira joined the teaching staff of the Ballet Black Junior School and Associate Programme, giving up her Saturdays every week to teach and inspire the next generation of ballerinas. In 2014, she received her first nomination for Outstanding Classical Performer at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards. She was nominated again this year for Best Female Performer, also at the Critics’ Circle.
In 2016, Cira walked into her usual ballet shoe shop and, fed up of painting pale pink shoes to match her skin tone, asked if they could custom make some brown pointe shoes for her. That moment led to a much bigger collaboration between Cira, Freed of London and Ballet Black to create the first brown and bronze pointe shoes, ballet shoes and tights ever manufactured in the United Kingdom. The difference this has made to young Black and Brown dancers around the world is difficult to quantify but trust when I say that it has played a significant part in kicking down barriers to classical ballet.
As an artist, Cira is incomparable – there isn’t enough space to here to list the ways she has supported and contributed to Ballet Black’s development during her time here. She is a beautiful dancer, thoughtful Company member and a great friend. She is also a Black woman who has been part of the fight for diversity here in the UK for fourteen years, speaking up for Black dancers and speaking out about what it means to be a Black woman in ballet.
I am very proud to say that Cira leaves us to take up the position of Artistic Director at the Yorkshire Ballet Seminars, fulfilling exactly what I hoped Ballet Black would do: create the next generation of leaders who will shape and change the ballet world for the better. I just didn’t realise how quickly fourteen years would go.
Cira will continue to dance with us until December 2022 and remains a part of the Ballet Black Junior School faculty.
Please join me in thanking Cira for sharing her incredible talent with us and wish her every success and more in her new role.
Cassa Pancho MBE
Founder & Artistic Director
Home is where the heart is, and some of us are fortunate enough to have more than one. That’s where Cassa Pancho comes in and is what Ballet Black has been for me. A place where love, growth, happiness, sadness, development, discovery, acceptance and so much more, gave me the freedom and endurance to be the best ballerina I could be. After fourteen amazing years, I have decided to step down from the Company and venture into new territory, and, from December 2022, I will be the new Artistic Director of Yorkshire Ballet Seminars.
I will miss performing with Ballet Black, the stages and the life, but my interest in the future dancers of the UK and the position at Yorkshire Ballet Seminars go hand-in-hand with what I want to do: spread as much knowledge as possible and do my part in ensuring that the next generation of dancers continue to have the right people guiding them with only their best interest at heart.
Senior Artist, Ballet Black
Artistic Director Designate, Yorkshire Ballet Seminars