Marchant & Davina Birch (UK
Marchant & Davina Birch 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. Both come from trained dance backgrounds, each with more than 30 years of experience in the dance world. They are directors of Alchemy Dance Company which they formed in 2005, and Alchemy Dance Academy, the UK's largest Salsa On2/Mambo sc
hool, which attracts students from far and wide.
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 hundreds of trophies in various competitions all over South Africa.
Marchant was part of Cape Town's street dance group scene, then called "Boogie" dancing. With his brother's dance team 'The Cool Boys' he won many competitions including all three major competitions in Cape Town.
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.
Understanding the importance of fully studying salsa as a dance form, he has trained with the worlds best Puerto Ricans, New Yoricans, Dominicans and Cubans.
Marchant was invited to start teaching and performing salsa in 2001 and has 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 studies in salsa, and blended it with ballroom technique, boogie dancing, jazz and afro movement, developing a smooth, elegant and rhythmical style of salsa 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, and has taught many of the current salsa teachers in the UK.
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.
DAVINA BIRCH, Co-Director of Alchemy Dance Company & Academy
Davina is 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, excellent following techniques for ladies, and how to style within the natural flow of partner work with smooth rhythmical body movement and flowing arms, .
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.
Davina was first introduced to salsa in the late nineties in the iconic London salsa club La Finca. On a trip to Cuba in 2000 she took lessons in Son, Cha Cha and Cuban Mambo. In 2003 she discovered cross-body salsa and attended 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 co-choreographed, with Marchant, Alchemy's debut show 'Timbalito'.
Also a popular salsa DJ, Davina has been invited to DJ at salsa events and congresses across the UK, Ireland, Trinidad, South Africa. She is resident DJ at the Alchemy Social.