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‘My family are my heroes’

a group of ballerinas crouch a person in the centre holding a crown over their head
12 Apr 2024
5 min read

Ballet Black dancer Ebony Thomas reflects on the company’s latest show, called Heroes.

Who’s your hero? For its latest production, Ballet Black delves into this theme through two innovative works. The show opens with the premiere of If At First, by Franco-British artist and Choreographer in Residence at Scottish Ballet, Sophie Laplane. ‘It addresses the theme of the everyday hero, whether that be your friend, a parent or someone in the public eye that you aspire to be or you admire,’ says Thomas. ‘It’s quite a contrast from the next piece, which is very intense.’

So who are Thomas’s heroes? ‘It’s my family,’ he says. ‘Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. This is my seventh season with Ballet Black and the longer I’ve been here the more I’ve understood the privilege and the responsibility of my role.’

The programme also includes award-winning choreographer, Mthuthuzeli November’s exciting and energetic work about the meaning of life, The Waiting Game, which – unusually for a ballet performance – features dancers using their voices.

‘We usually just use our body to express a story,’ says Senior Artist Ebony Thomas. ‘But as Ballet Black we’ve got used to it now, especially with Tutu's pieces. The Waiting Game is about the day-to-day and how that can sometimes feel overwhelming. Sometimes you wake up, you have your coffee, get on the tube, go to work, come back, have your dinner, go to sleep, and that can become a lot for people. But how do we overcome the barriers we put in place to find peace, and start again the following day?’

Thomas says Ballet Black is ‘more than just a ballet company, or a job. Ballet Black represents change, inclusion, and hope, especially for the for the younger generation who may not have seen ballet as a career option. Ballet Black not only grows its own audience, but it grows ballet's audience as a whole. When you come to one of our performances and look around at the audience, the demographic is so vast. That brings new eyes, new brains, and new ideas to the ballet world. That benefits everyone. There's only so many times you can watch Sleeping Beauty, as beautiful as it is. There are so many Black stories that need to and should be told in the public domain, through the expression of dance. For me, it's a privilege to tell those stories.’

Words by James Drury

Ballet Black: Heroes, 15-19 May, Theatre

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