The Sunday Times, 11th February 2007

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Hip-hop, many steps and a jump by David Dougill
Published: 11 February 2007

..Like Spalding, Cassa Pancho is a dance person with a mission – in her case, as the founder (in 2001) ofBallet Black, to establish more role models for young black and Asian dancers in classical ballet in Britain. (Carlos Acosta, the Royal Ballet star, is, appropriately, patron of this small troupe.)

Currently, it has six dancers, only one of them home-grown, the enchantingly named Chantelle Gotobed. They are an attractive, well-matched group, and made an agreeable showing in a four-piece programme at the Linbury Theatre. It opened with Taniec, by their ballet master, Raymond Chai, a jaunty, buoyant trio. The Zimbabwean Bawren Tavaziva’s Umdlalo kaSisi is a reflection on love and loss, perhaps best appreciated if you understand the language of the voiceover narrative.

Antonia Franceschi’s Shift, Trip … Catch includes a fierce, even frantic performance by the cellist Zoë Martlew of her own music; the choreography was zest-ful, with performances to match, though the piece felt all over the place. To close, the Royal Ballet’s young dancer-choreographer Liam Scarlett, with Hinterland, to Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No 2, made deft and inventive dances that confirmed his talent and originality. He, along with the enterprising Ballet Black, deserve all encouragement.