Suffolk dancer celebrates Black History with incredible routine at Black Panther exhibition

Pictures of black man dancing
Pictures of black man dancing
The dance was filmed at the Power of Stories exhibition in Christchurch Mansion

A dancer from Chantry has created an inspiring video for Black History Month, in homage to the late Chadwick Boseman.

Martell Richards has a passion for dance and spends his evenings and time off working with children and adults in the Ipswich area to pass on his skills.

The 34-year-old has been running Martell Richards Dance (MRD) alongside a part-time role at Screwfix for four years, and leads evening dance classes at Chantry Academy once a week.

He had been dreaming up his latest project for some time: a powerful video to celebrate the late and great Chadwick Boseman who broke ground as T’Challa in Marvel’s Black Panther.

Initially, he wasn’t sure where to film, but after liaising with collections and learning curator for Ipswich Museums Melanie Hollis, he was able to see his project come to life in the Power of Stories exhibition on display at Christchurch Mansion.

The video celebrates several different mediums of Black excellence, with the dance being set to Beyoncé’s My Power from her Black is King album, featuring Nija, Busiswa Gqulu, DJ Lag, Moonchild Sanelly, Tierra Whack and Yemi Alade.

“I dream up these ideas in my head but never know how it’s going to turn out,” Martell admitted.

“I had the idea for something powerful, where people could express themselves with their own art. The video turned out differently to how I imagined it – far more impressive.

Picture of a black man smiling
Martell was overjoyed to be able to use the Black Panther display as a venue for the dance video (Image: Will Green)

“The first time I watched Black is King I knew I wanted to do something to My Power and I put my own twist on it, so in the video there are some moves from that song and others are my own.

“The Black Panther suits have been really grabbing people’s attention and to be able to do something in front of them made me feel so powerful.”

Martell’s dance partner for the video is friend Ebony Burnett, who was drafted in to dance freestyle and who absolutely smashed it.

A number of local creatives left their mark on the project, filmed by Miah Noto, photographed by Will Green and the video edited by KodakWise.

The dance moves around the exhibition, showcasing the comics, objects, artwork and stories which make up the collection.

Martell knew he wanted to release the video during Black History Month, as it’s a poignant time to celebrate Black culture.

“The reaction has been overwhelming, I can’t even explain it,” he added. “It’s been absolutely amazing and I didn’t know how it was going to turn out, but everyone just fed off each other’s energy and created this really powerful piece.

“My Screwfix colleagues are really supportive of me because they know this is my passion and I do have aspirations for the future, but they’re always there for me if I need to take a day off or move things around to be able to dance.

“My main goal for kids and adults coming to my classes is just to be confident and feel completely themselves.