Of Trinidadian and British parents, Cassa trained at the Royal Academy of Dance, gaining a degree in classical ballet from Durham University. Upon graduating in 2001, she founded Ballet Black in order to provide role models to young, aspiring black and Asian dancers. A year later, she opened the BB Junior School in Shepherd’s Bush. Cassa is also a graduate of the 2009 National Theatre cultural leadership programme, Step Change. Since starting the Company, she has commissioned work from a wide range of choreographers, including Liam Scarlett, Richard Alston, Javier de Frutos, Annabelle Lopez- Ochoa, Shobana Jeyasingh, Henri Oguike, and Will Tuckett. Ballet Black won both the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Company in 2009 and Best Independent Company in 2012. Cassa was awarded an MBE in the 2013 New Year Honours List for Services to Classical Ballet and has served as a judge on the panels of both the Kenneth Macmillan Choreographic and BBC Young Dancer competitions. In 2015, Cassa was appointed a Patron of Central School of Ballet and in May 2016 became a vice president of The London Ballet Circle. In 2017, she joined the Ballet Now consortium in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). Also that year, Cassa, along with Senior Artist Cira Robinson, collaborated with renowned British ballet shoe manufacturer, Freed of London, to create two brand new pointe shoe colours to enable dancers of black descent to buy skin-tone pointe shoes ready-made. In 2018, Cassa was awarded the Freedom of the City of London. To date, she has commissioned 34 choreographers, to create over 46 new ballets for the Company. In both 2017 & 2018 Cassa was included in The Evening Standards The Progress 1000: London’s most influential people. She also teaches regularly at the BB Junior School in Shepherd’s Bush, West London.
- Ballet Black Premiere at The BarbicanThere’s always a buzz when Ballet Black take to our main stage, their popular programmes contrasting dramatic and playful storytelling in a lively showcase of powerful choreography. In the first half, Ballet Black reprise Martin Lawrance’s ‘wickedly intelligent’ (Guardian) Pendulum, an intimate duet that the company premiered in 2009. This is followed by a light-hearted work by Scottish Ballet’s choreographer-in-residence, Sophie Laplane, a new piece for a mesmerising ensemble whose dancers are
- Collaboration with Freed; Two new shades of Pointe ShoeFIRST UK COMPANY TO CREATE POINTE SHOES FOR BLACK, ASIAN AND MIXED RACE DANCERS ‘Historic moment in British ballet history’ This year Freed of London have teamed up with Ballet Black founder and artistic director Cassa Pancho MBE and Senior Artist Cira Robinson to create the first skin tone pointe shoes, handmade in the U.K. for black, Asian and mixed race dancers. After over a year in development, Freed of London has introduced new colours ‘Ballet Bronze’ and ‘Ballet Brown’ to their core collec
- Ballet Black Junior SchoolThey currently run classes for three to eighteen year old children and offer non-syllabus and Royal Academy of Dance Syllabus Examination classes. Classes are taught by Cassa Pancho MBE (Ballet Black Artistic Director), Reena Bhattacharjee BA (Hons) RAD RTS and Cira Robinson (Ballet Black Senior Artist). Based in Shepherd's Bush West London. See more here
Projects credited in
- "SAY IT LOUD" - BALLET BLACK AT 20Say It Loud charts the struggles and inspiration behind the formation of this exciting and pioneering company. This piece is choreographed and directed by Ballet Black Artistic Director Cassa Pancho and was created with the Ballet Black Company artists. This production takes us on a voyage of the extremities of human fragility, spiritually, socially and politically through dance. Without saying, it was artistic in every sensibility. Rich in music and cultural references across the world. Ballet
- This International Women’s Day 2019, meet 100 trailblazers redefining the creative industryDiscover our 2020 list here This International Women’s Day, we’ve launched our latest ‘10x10’ – asking 10 influential industry icons to each nominate 10 trailblazing women and non-binary people who they believe are redefining the creator landscape. The result? An incredible list of 100 trailblazers inspiring change. Our list will be accompanied by a takeover on The Dots – look out for brilliant profiles and projects on the platform as we aim to inspire, as important as ever when considering ‘88165
- Creative Direction