Marchant & Davina
"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
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 school, which attracts students from far and wide.
"Through our performances and teaching we hope to share with you our love and passion for dance. Our aim is to create beautiful dance by transcending technique and becoming one with our partner and the music. Our priority is not in the end product, but in the process. A continual journey of learning and discovery for ourselves, our students and our audience."
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 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 two 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. She has a BA Honours degree in Drama & Theatre Studies, and is a qualified gym instructor holding various fitness teaching certificates including an S/NVQ in Exercise to Music, Pilates and Body Pump.
Since 1996 Davina has taught in a variety of capacities. For several years she was a freelance fitness instructor in London teaching in 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. With Marchant, she co-choreographed 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.