Elmhurst Ballet School Graduate Ebony Thomas took a trip down memory lane when he paid a visit to his former school ahead of performing in the city later this month as a member of professional ballet company Ballet Black.
In a first-of-its-kind collaboration with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Ballet Black will be performing Cathy Marston’s critically acclaimed The Suit, inspired by Can Themba’s South African fable, as part of Birmingham Royal Ballet's Autumn Mixed Bill at Birmingham Hippodrome (19-21 September). The company recently caused a sensation with its staggering performance during Stormzy’s headline set at Glastonbury.
Having started dancing at the age of five, Ebony joined Elmhurst Ballet School at 11 and during his eight years at the school performed with Birmingham Royal Ballet on several occasions, including overseas at the Virginia Arts Festival, USA.
Since graduating from Elmhurst, Ebony has joined Ballet Black, a professional ballet company for international dancers of black and Asian descent and was recently promoted to the rank of Junior Artist. Ballet Black was founded in 2001 by Artistic Director Cassa Pancho MBE in order to provide role models for young, aspiring black and Asian dancers and bring ballet to a more culturally diverse audience by celebrating black and Asian dancers in the art form. As well as performances, the company also offer community driven classes for dancers and students of all ages.
Speaking about his visit to Elmhurst, Ebony Thomas said:
‘It’s amazing to be back in Birmingham where it all started with my professional training. We’re performing in September in a mixed bill with Birmingham Royal Ballet and I’m just looking forward to being back in my second home’.
Robert Parker, Artistic Director of Elmhurst said:
‘Everyone at Elmhurst Ballet School is extremely proud of Ebony and his achievements and we are thrilled his dance career continues with Ballet Black. Ebony is an exceptional dancer with a natural technical ability, sense of turn and astonishing elevation. At school he quickly became a strong, secure and conscientious partner, and developed a charismatic stage presence that connected with fellow students and audiences. I know the entire school will join me in wishing Ebony continued success with Ballet Black. We can’t wait to watch him perform at Birmingham Hippodrome this autumn!’
Ballet Black will be performing as part of Birmingham Royal Ballet's Autumn Mixed Bill at Birmingham Hippodrome from 19 to 21 September. The bill also includes the world premiere of the fourth Ballet Now commission, A Brief Nostalgia, from young Australian choreographer and Queensland Ballet dancer Jack Lister, and composer Tom Harrold.
The bill will close with Twyla Tharp’s sizzling tribute to Old Blue Eyes, Nine Sinatra Songs.
Photo credit: Man Yee Lee