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Classically British 2015

Posted on October 16, 2015

belle image cropped

belle image croppedClassically British returns to The Tabernacle, London W11 on October 16, as part of Black History Month. This year’s programme includes Ballet Belle, a work in progress inspired by the true story of Dido Belle, the daughter of the enslaved woman Maria Belle and a British naval officer.

Classically British aims to shine light on black female dancers. It is led by Mark Elie of the Mark Elie Dance Foundation and Portobello Dance School; former students include Kym Sojourna, who is now a member of Rambert.

The programme at the Tabernacle will include two works by Vincent Hantam, who in 1975 was the first non-white male dancer to perform with Scottish Ballet, and the new Ballet Belle. Dido Belle’s father took his daughter back to England in 1765, where she was brought up among the aristocracy at London’s Kenwood House. There is a celebrated painting of Dido with her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray by Johan Zoffany, and she was the heroine of a 2013 film starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

There will be an open dress rehearsal for local schoolchildren at 1.15pm on October 16, followed by a full performance at 7.30pm. Tickets can be bought on the door, costing £5 for the dress rehearsal and £10 for the evening performance. 


Picture: Fiona McGee and Salome Pressac in Ballet Belle. Photograph: Nick Guttridge



Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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