Meet Cira Robinson, Senior Artist with Ballet Black

July 11, 2022

“My growth as a dancer is never over, and that’s one of the many reasons why I still love it,” says Cira Robinson. The Cincinnati native trained under Arthur Mitchell at Dance Theatre of Harlem and joined London’s Ballet Black in 2008. A senior artist in the company, she’s originated roles in ballets by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Will Tuckett, toured internationally, and performed for a 100,000-strong crowd with British rapper Stormzy at the 2019 Glastonbury Festival. She’s a force offstage, too: Her 2017 collaboration with Freed of London produced two pointe-shoe skin tones for Black, Asian and mixed-race dancers—Ballet Brown and Ballet Bronze. And on social media, she was candid about a 2020 health scare that created a shift in her “keep-going” mentality. “It’s a phenomenal thing, what dancers do, but we are not superhumans,” says Robinson.­ “Health needs to be at the top of the list.”

When She Knew:
“Ballet was always something that just clicked. It wasn’t until I did my last summer program at Dance Theatre of Harlem, at 18 years old, that I knew this is what I wanted to do forever.”

PreShow Jitters:

“My dancer mentality wants to hit every step perfectly, but then my human side kicks in and I accept that I’m a professional and I’ve got this—and if I don’t, I better figure it out! Then I Tiger Balm everything, take a couple of deep breaths and leave Cira in the dressing room.”

Making Dance More Diverse:
“Things are happening, but not at the rate that they should. People should want diversity, development and inclusion in their schools and companies—it’s more than having one person of color as a teacher or on the board.”

Cira Robinson. Photo by Laura Gallant.

Collaborating With Freed:
“I had always pancaked my shoes, but even though it’s something that needs to be done, it’s tedious. I went to Freed of London to inquire about having a custom brown shoe made for me, and they told me that I needed to find the proper brown satin for the shoes, so I did. I went to seven different fabric stores before I found the perfect swatch of brown. When I informed my director Cassa Pancho about customizing a shoe, she sprang into action with Freed, and a collaboration was birthed.”

Her Turn as Teacher:
“I try to keep the values, etiquette, and ‘good stuff’ that I grew up with that helped me to navigate through this dance world, but I also know that I have to adapt to this generation of students. There’s a level of respect that should be there amongst the teacher and student, but ultimately, I like to be as appropriately real as possible with the older students while helping to feed the imagination and dreams of the little ones.”

Growing as an Artist:
“Diving deeper into the acting side of the various narrative roles I’ve portrayed in the past five years, I’ve noticed that that’s where I thrive and feel full. Being extremely vulnerable and consumed in a role onstage and being able to take the audience with me every step of the way is what I’m recently most proud of and what I try to bring to everything that I dance.”