Black British Ballet: a showcase of experience

From: Arts Council England
Published: Mon Feb 07 2022

A celebration of Black dancers and choreographers in British ballet is coming to Birmingham in February, supported by Birmingham Royal Ballet and Oxygen Arts.

The Black British Ballet project aims to celebrate and document the careers of Black dancers and choreographers in British ballet. It is based on the PhD work of Dr Sandie Bourne, who aims to interview every Black British ballet professional from the last century to create a film and a dedicated website that showcases their achievements and experiences of working as dancers in the UK and abroad.

A Celebration of Black British Ballet at Birmingham Hippodrome on 25 February will include a short film screening of interviews with dancers from the project. It will also feature a panel discussion with Julie Felix, Adam James, Malachi Spaulding and one of Birmingham Royal Ballet's leading dancers.

Ballet Soul (c) James Joseph

Peter Knott, Midlands Area Director for Arts Council England, recently said:

This is a great opportunity for many talented dancers and creatives to share their stories and experiences of ballet - and an important chance for us all to learn something about the lives of the performers we see on stage.

We're really proud that our investment enables ground-breaking work like this to take place, and hope that it will inspire audiences across the Midlands and beyond.

Pearl Chesterman, Director of Learning, Engagement, Access & Participation at Birmingham Royal Ballet, recently said:

We are excited to support Dr Sandie Bourne and Oxygen Arts on this important project. Celebrating and documenting the lives of these pioneers in our art-form is essential if ballet is to continue to attract the greatest dancers and inspire a whole new generation.

Sandie Bourne, PhD, Director, Oxygen Arts, recently said:

Black dancers have been present in British ballet from at least the 1940s and many of these dancers had hugely successful international careers after being denied opportunities in Britain.

Following on from our first event with the English National Ballet last year, this celebration with Birmingham Royal Ballet is a wonderful opportunity to join some of these dance pioneers and hear their inspiring stories.

Find out more about this free event.

Company: Arts Council England

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