Ballet Black is back with ‘Nina: By Whatever Means’, an exhilarating performance portraying Nina’s Simone’s life
Ballet Black: Pioneers
By Dihasya Perera
19th Mar 2023
Last week, the Barbican Centre hosted Mthuthuzeli November’s ‘Nina: By Whatever Means’, a tribute to the sensational Nina Simone; it was a creative culmination of ballet, jazz and the blues for a truly inspiring piece of dance theatre.
Cassa Pancho’s Ballet Black, now in their 21st year, presented their award-winning choreographers Will Tuckett and Mthuthuzeli November’s work, through the showcase of their dancer’s proficiency not only in ballet, but other styles such as jazz and the blues to pay tribute to Nina Simone. The performance was in two parts, the first half followed the words of the love letter, with expressive dance and a clear narrative of the thoughts and emotions in the letter. The atmosphere was tranquil as the auditorium engaged with the words espoused in the poetry recordings. The music complimented the dance and the poetry for a unique resonance that consumed the auditorium.
The second section guided the audience through more of Nina’s life, with thrilling portrayals of her music performances as well as equally enthralling yet heartbreaking presentations of her personal life. Overall, this performance was an excellent manifestation of thought, struggle and excitement, expressed through the talented dancers of Ballet Black.
Finally, Ballet Black truly inspires many, through performances like this, but also its Junior School. Asiyah Kharodia, a former student at Ballet Black Junior School, explained how it taught her ‘not only grace, discipline and the actual art of ballet itself, [but] it also taught me to love my own skin. It gave me an environment to surround myself with peers of all shades, backgrounds and religions etc. and I made lifelong friends.’ She continued to explain that for young ballet students, Ballet Black presents how the ‘standard