Cassa Pancho's Ballet Black Makes Its North American Debut at the NAC

Adrienne Rich meets Nina Simone in Pioneers, a double bill presented on October 3 and 4


September 18, 2023 – OTTAWA (Canada) – The National Arts Centre is kicking off its 2023–2024 Dance season with Pioneers,a stunning double bill from Cassa Pancho's Ballet Black, marking the company's first-ever foray into North America.

Cassa Pancho’s Ballet Black is known for celebrating diversity by showcasing artists from Black and Asian communities. With Pioneers, 10 of the UK-based company’s dancers take the stage to pay tribute to the lives and ideas of two of the 20th century’s most notable women.

The evening opens with Then Or Now, choreographed by the immensely talented William Tuckett, bringing to life the poetry of influential award-winning author Adrienne Rich. Next up, Mthuthuzeli November, South Africa’s rising young choreographic star, brings us Nina: By Whatever Means, a love letter to the peerless singer, songwriter and political icon Nina Simone. Pioneers, which serves as both a celebration of the unique artistic talent of these two American women and an homage to their unwavering commitment to social justice, delivers performances filled with awe-inspiring movements and lyrical contrasts.

“Intricately crafted writing, staging and dance performances magnificently capture the essence of Adrienne Rich and Nina Simone’s lives,” says Caroline Ohrt, the newly appointed Executive Producer of NAC Dance. “We are thrilled to be able to welcome Cassa Pancho’s Ballet Black to the National Arts Centre for their first North American tour.”

“We are delighted to make our North American debut at the National Arts Centre, the realisation of an ambition I have held for a long time – to take the wonderful dancers of Ballet Black and share their talent with the world. I believe this programme’s universal themes of love, inspiration and power will resonate with our new audiences in Canada, and I hope you will all enjoy watching it as much as we enjoy performing it.” —Cassa Pancho MBE, Founder & Artistic Director, Ballet Black

This program offers a sneak peek into the richly diverse lineup that NAC Dance has in store for the 2023–2024 season, programmed by Cathy Levy, Producer Emerita. Prepare to be moved!



Cassa Pancho’s Ballet Black
Double Bill: Pioneers
Then Or Now by William Tuckett
Nina: By Whatever Means by Mthuthuzeli November
Babs Asper Theatre, October 3 and 4, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.

95 minutes with one intermission

Tickets start at $31
Under 30 and All My Relations: Tickets are $15

Mature themes. Not recommended for children.

To purchase tickets, visit or call 1-844-985-2787 (ARTS). To learn more about the NAC’s building and facilities before you arrive, click:

Visit the NAC website to learn more about the 2023–2024 NAC Dance season.



NAC Dance and the NAC Foundation would like to thank the donors and partners who have made the season possible. Thank you to our Hotel Partner, the Lord Elgin Hotel. The role of Executive Producer, NAC Dance is generously supported by an anonymous donor.



The National Arts Centre (NAC) is Canada’s bilingual, multi-disciplinary home for the performing arts. The NAC presents, creates, produces, and co-produces performing arts programming in various streams — the NAC Orchestra, Dance, English Theatre, French Theatre, Indigenous Theatre, and Popular Music and Variety — and nurtures the next generation of audiences and artists from across Canada. The NAC is located in the National Capital Region on the unceded territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation.




Marie-Chantale Labbé

Marketing Strategist

National Arts Centre



Sylvain Lavoie

Communications Strategist

National Arts Centre


Join our email list for the latest updates!