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Central School of Ballet announce new patrons: Cassa Pancho MBE and Robert Mackintosh

Press Release: 29th January 2015

Central School of Ballet announce new patrons:
Cassa Pancho MBE and Robert Mackintosh

Cassa Pancho MBE, Founder and Artistic Director of Ballet Black and Robert Mackintosh, Co Founder of The Entertainment & Media Group and Creative Director of The St James Theatre have been announced as new patrons of Central School of Ballet, which this year celebrates the 30th anniversary of their renowned student touring company, Ballet Central.

“I am delighted to announce Central School of Ballet’s two new patrons; both Cassa and Robert share a passion for dance and performance art and their support and expertise will be invaluable to the school and our students” said Sara Matthews, Director of Central School of Ballet.

“I have always been an admirer of Central School of Ballet and the talent that the school produces,” says Cassa Pancho MBE, “Growing up, a trip to see Ballet Central on tour was always the highlight of my year, and was also the first time I ever saw black dancers performing on stage. Since founding Ballet Black, I have had the wonderful privilege of working with many brilliant graduates from Central and I am thrilled to be able to give something back to the school as one of their new Patrons” .

Robert Mackintosh comments “The first time I encountered Central’s students when they performed in Ballet Central at The St James Theatre, I was struck by their enthusiasm and sheer talent.  I was also struck by the dedication of those around them – teachers and Board directors alike, whose obvious sole motives were to bring out the talent that lay beneath each pupil.  There is no greater challenge and satisfaction in finding young talent and giving them the encouragement and support to shine and, in this case,  be the future ambassadors of the legacy of their founder, Christopher Gable.   I am looking forward to encouraging others to support the work of Central and their student touring company Ballet Central. Its passion is obvious and cannot fail to bring a smile, or tear, to the most ardent entrepreneur. It will be an honour to serve as a Patron”.

Founded in 1982 by Ann Stannard and the late Christopher Gable CBE, Central School of Ballet is one of the UK’s leading centres for dance training and is an affiliate of the Conservatoire for Dance & Drama.   Central’s senior school students train for three years aiming for a BA (Hons) in Professional Dance and Performance, validated by the University of Kent.   Central’s ethos is the belief that talented, dedicated young people should have access to the highest quality of training, whatever their economic, social or cultural background.   The school has one of the highest rates of employment for graduating students, many of whom go on to join the world’s premier dance companies.   Central also runs a wide programme of outreach work to encourage and broaden participation in dance.    As well as working in schools and offering workshops, Central also runs an Associate School which includes a thriving Junior School, and Prep & Pre-Senior programmes. Central also offers an extensive programme of evening and weekend adult classes.


Biography Cassa Pancho MBE:
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 Ballet Black Junior School in Shepherd’s Bush and in 2004, began the BB Associate Programme, which currently has over three hundred members.  Cassa is also a graduate of the 2009 National Theatre cultural leadership programme, Step Change.

Since starting the Company, she has commissioned work from many different choreographers, including Liam Scarlett, Richard Alston, Javier de Frutos, Christopher Marney, Martin Lawrance, Henri Oguike, Christopher Hampson, Arthur Pita 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 has served as a judge on the panel of the Kenneth MacMillan Choreographic competition and was awarded an MBE in the 2013 New Year Honours List for Services to Ballet.

Biography Robert Mackintosh:
Robert Mackintosh has worked as a record producer with artists including Michael Ball, Shirley Bassey, Sarah Brightman, Petula Clark, Michel Crawford, David Essex, Patti Lupone, Elaine Paige, Colm Wilkinson.    Cast Albums include Tomfoolery, Pal Joey, The Sound Of Music, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, The Girlfriend, Annie Get Your Gun, High Society, Just So, Moby Dick, Me And My Girl,  Hey Mr Producer!, Batboy, Daddy Cool, Sasha Regan’s H.M.S Pinafore. Robert was music supervisor and co-composer with Don Black for Paul Schrader’s film Forever Mine starring Joseph Fiennes and Ray Liotta;

Concerts include The Rolling Stones at the Alvalade Stadium, Portugal; David Hasslehoff 1994 World Tour; the Musical World of Cameron Mackintosh starring Michael Ball, Les Miserables in Concert; the world premiere of Evita in Concert; Russell Watson; Michael Ball; An Evening With Donny Osmond.

TV specials include Save The Children Christmas Spectacular with Michael Crawford in the presence of her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, receiving a gold disc for audio sales and nominated for Best American Cable Music Special Award; Associate Producer of The Southbank Show The Cameron Mackintosh Interview; MTV Special – Young Gods of Comedy.

West End productions include Little Lies staring Sir John Mills (Wyndhams); Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (Prince of Wales); the Award Winning Mornings At Seven (at the Westminster – now the St. James Theatre), starring Teresa Wright; Batboy; Daddy Cool – based on the songs of Boney M (both at the Shaftesbury).

Together with Alan Judd, Robert co-founded St. James Theatre, now a part of Entertainment and Media Group, and heads up programming for the theatre.

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