Alchemy Dance Company
 
 


BIOGRAPHIES

"I would like everyone to experience dancing in such way where they hit that zone or Dynamic Equanimity. It’s a feeling of Oneness where you, your partner and the music become one, and rhythm is the glue to unify all three. You can’t even feel where your body ends and your partners body begins, you don’t even know if you are leading or following because everything is one. In that state, no forceful leading is necessary, you are both just flowing, and the energy is just flowing. I’m not even sure if the brain gets involved because the brain can get in the way of feeling. That is what I wish for everyone to experience." Marchant Birch 2005

ALCHEMY DANCE COMPANY was founded in 2005 by Marchant Birch. He brought together dancers from a diverse range of cultural, musical and dance backgrounds. The fusion of this range of experience with Marchant’s renowned smooth style brought about an exciting and fresh concept in salsa training and choreography. Influenced predominantly by New York Mambo, ballroom, African and Jazz dance, the focus of Alchemy is strong technical training, the PROCESS of creating dance, and ultimately transforming individually and collectively as dancers.

Now representing Alchemy Dance Company as a couple, husband & wife team Marchant & Davina are known for their captivating performances, world-class choreographies, and excellent teaching methods. They are in high demand to perform and teach around the UK and internationally.

Teaching the Teachers... Over the years many salsa instructors have trained with Marchant & Davina at some point in their dance development. Such is the standard of their teaching and depth of knowledge, many salsa instructors, teachers of other forms of dance and trained dancers are regularly found at their academy, training bootcamps and in the Alchemy Performance Team.

MARCHANT BIRCH, Director of Alchemy Dance Company & Academy

Marchant was born and raised in the township of Bonteheuwel in Cape Town, South Africa. His formal dance training in Ballroom started at the age of 7 and continued up to competitive professional level. He won trophies in over one hundred competitions all over South Africa. Marchant was part of Cape Town's street dance group scene and won many competitions.

In the early 1990s Marchant spent several years immersed in Hip-Hop culture in South Africa as a producer and MC, and toured with Africa's pioneering Hip-Hop group Prophets of Da City.

In 1999, Marchant won the National Cape Jazz Championship in South Africa, competing against over 500 couples (Cape Jazz is a partner dance similar to salsa). It was the prize money from this competition that bought his ticket to the UK in 2000 where he discovered salsa.

On taking up salsa he understood the importance of fully studying the dance form and has trained with the worlds best Puerto Ricans, New Yoricans, Dominicans and Cubans. He was invited to start teaching and performing salsa in the UK in 2001 and has since become one of the most sought after teachers & performers in the UK and internationally. Marchant was also the 1st representative of South Africa in the international salsa community.

In 2005 Marchant's choreography of Tito Puente's ‘Take Five’ received high acclaim from the Mambo King himself, Eddie Torres. It was considered a ground-breaking choreography at the time for its flowing use of line and arms, and intricate musical interpretation. The influence of this can be seen today in UK salsa performances

Growing up in Africa undoubtedly contributed to Marchant's intricate sense of rhythm, from the raw sound of the carnival drum, to the sophistication of the Cape Town jazz musicians. In his years in salsa he has taken his teachings from the latinos, and blended it with ballroom technique, jazz and afro movement, developing a smooth, elegant style of salsa and mambo known as the Alchemy Way. He has a reputation for being one of the world's best leads with many a male dancer coveting his creative turn patterns. He is renowned for bringing 'smooth' and 'flow' to UK salsa.

Accolades given to Marchant during his time in Salsa include… Best British Newcomer, Best UK Dance Act, and a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the development of Salsa in the UK.

More of Marchant's dance history

DAVINA BIRCH, Co-Director of Alchemy Dance Company & Academy

DAVINA holds ISTD teaching qualifications in Modern Theatre Dance and Tap. She trained in Modern, Jazz, Tap and Ballet from the age of 3, taking Modern and Tap to advanced status. Further qualifications include a BA Honours degree in Drama & Theatre Studies, and various fitness teaching certificates including an S/NVQ in Exercise to Music.

Since 1996 Davina has taught in a variety of capacities. For several years she was a freelance fitness instructor in London teaching in many fitness clubs, gyms, studios and personal training. On achieving her dance teaching certificates she gained teaching positions in several dance schools and colleges around London. Davina was Head of Dance at a community youth theatre and taught the dance aspect of GCSE performing arts in secondary education. She has entered many students for dance examinations, and choreographed for numerous showcases, theatre productions, and competitions.

In 2003 she took up salsa, attending classes with Marchant who soon spotted her potential and undertook her training. It was from this that Alchemy Dance Company was formed, Davina's jazz dance experience being part of the core technique training for the company. She also co-choreographed, with Marchant, Alchemy's debut show 'Timbalito'.

Davina is now one of the leading ladies of the UK salsa scene. As the female exponent of the Alchemy Way, she is described as having a smooth, sophisticated and sexy style. She has a reputation for the highest standard of teaching, her excellent following techniques for ladies, and how to style within the natural flow of partnerwork. without affecting the man's lead... the female Alchemy Way!

TIMELINE OF ALCHEMY DANCE COMPANY

2005 Marchant and Davina together formed Alchemy Dance Company. They took both their past dance experience and combined the techniques and methods for the performance company. Originally a team of four dancers, they trained together for a year before performing.
2006 Marchant & Davina launched Alchemy Dance Academy, giving the salsa public the opportunity to improve their dancing by way of the Alchemy method of dance training. For 2 years they ran the Academy by way of intensive courses and workshops at different venues around the south.
2007 They released their first instructional DVD 'Alchemy Way Partnerwork', which, produced in two versions, was the UK's first On2 instructional DVD.
2008 Alchemy Dance Academy opened at its permanent residence in Hampshire, where students travel from far and wide to learn the Alchemy Way.
2010 saw the launch of their unique and exciting dance training concept - the MAD Salsa Bootcamp weekends. This was brought about by demand from dancers who live too far away to train regularly with Marchant & Davina. The MAD Salsa Bootcamps are residential training weekends, each designed for a specific level and exclusively taught by Marchant & Davina. The weekends have been hugely popular with dancers travelling from all over Europe. Now into the fifth year of Bootcamps, every weekend sells out months in advance.
2012 Marchant & Davina started the performance branch of Alchemy Dance Academy. The Alchemy Performance Team has performed at salsa events all over the UK to rave reviews. See debut performance video.



Read Marchant & Davina's interview in SalsaMag.



STEVEN ABBIW & SIMONE MOWEN, Founder & Former Members of Alchemy Dance Company

Alchemy Dance Company originally formed as a group of four dancers in 2005 - Marchant, Davina, Steven Abbiw & Simone Mowen. They trained and performed together until 2007 when they disbanded due to outside work commitments. Those 2 years as a company were very special times when the four formed an extremely close bond of friendship which continues today. Steven and Simone are still considered very much part of the Alchemy family. They both continue to dance and work in the salsa community on a part time basis.

 

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