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.