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Ballet Black’s Cira Robinson to dance in The Crucible

Posted on April 25, 2019

Senior guest artist Cira Robinson will join Scottish Ballet for the world premiere of Helen Pickett’s The Crucible. The first major commission of Scottish Ballet’s 50th anniversary year, the production will open the dance programme at the Edinburgh International Festival from August 3 to 5.

As part of a longstanding collaboration between the two companies, Ballet Black’s senior artist Robinson will join Scottish Ballet to dance the role of Tituba. Bringing a breadth of experience, Robinson will play a vital role in developing this complex character in Arthur Miller’s drama about the 17th-century Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts.

By creating a central black female character, rarely seen in the UK outside of Ballet Black repertoire, Ballet Black and Scottish Ballet aim to openly address the challenges of diverse representation in UK ballet, and particularly the lack of black female ballet dancers in the UK.

Scottish Ballet CEO/artistic director Christopher Hampson is a board member of Ballet Black and has choreographed two works for the company. Continuing the creative collaboration, Scottish Ballet’s former dancer and artist in residence, choreographer, Sophie Laplane was commissioned by Ballet Black to create her latest work CLICK!, which premiered at the Barbican in March 2019.

Hampson said: “We are very excited to present the world premiere of The Crucible at the Edinburgh International Festival, as part of Scottish Ballet’s 50th anniversary. Furthermore, we’re delighted to be working with our friends at Ballet Black and welcoming one of the UK’s leading dancers, Cira Robinson, into Helen Pickett’s production.”

Cassa Pancho, founder and artistic director of Ballet Black, added: “I’m delighted that Scottish Ballet have invited Cira to guest with them… this summer. Cira is one of the most exciting and versatile artists I have worked with, and I am thrilled that she will have the opportunity to share her talent with audiences at the festival.”

Following the world premiere of The Crucible, the production will tour to Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness in autumn 2019, before transferring to the US in spring 2020, with its US premiere at the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC in May 2020. The company will also return to perform in New York and other US cities in 2020, with the full programme to be announced.

The Crucible will be the first major commission of Scottish Ballet’s Five in Five, an ambitious new commitment to stage five new full-length ballets over five years; one for every decade of its history. In total, the company seeks to raise £5 million over five years to deliver these new works, and associated access and engagement programmes.

As part of the Five in Five fundraising campaign, Scottish Ballet launches the Millinery Appeal to help make the production of The Crucible possible. Designed by Emma Kingsbury, hats play an essential role in adapting Arthur Miller’s play for dance: they help to define the hierarchy and status of each character. In total, 36 different hats, each taking up to eight hours to make, are being handcrafted by an experienced milliner.

For more information, to book tickets to The Crucible, and to donate to the Millinery Appeal, click here.

Image: Cira Robinson in The Suit by Cathy Marston. Photograph by Bill Cooper

Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Today she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success. Her debut novel, The Girl Before You, is out now as an ebook and available on Amazon, with the paperback following on August 22.

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