Arts & Culture

WATCH - Marisa Benain

2017 Entertainment Highlights

By Richard Johnson

Sunday, December 17, 2017



The Jamaica Observer continues its daily look back at people, events and works that made an impact during 2017.

 

During 2017, the local dance community got a shot in the arm thanks to the efforts of dancer-cum-promoter Marisa Benain.

A senior member of the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica, Benain, through Plié for the Arts — an outfit dedicated to showcasing international talent to local audiences — was able to bring world-class performances to the local stage.

In March, Benain and her team brought in the world-renowned, New York-based Complexions Contemporary Ballet for two performances in the Corporate Area at the Little Theatre which was well received by the Jamaican audience.

In addition to the performances, and in keeping with the mandate of Plié for the Arts to give back to the local community, Complexions conducted master classes with dancers here. Out of these classes, Complexions' co-founder Desmond Richardson hand -picked two participants, Ashley Bromfield and Oraine Frater, for their summer intensive in New York in July.

By September Plié for the Arts was again in the news. This time the organisation was promoting Amalgamation — a performance featuring dancers from some of the major companies in the United States. The two performances featured artistes from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Complexions, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, and The American Ballet Theater. These international dancers were complemented by local outfits National Dance Theatre Company, Movements Dance Company of Jamaica, The Company Dance Theatre and the Stella Maris Dance Ennsemble.

As has become customary with productions by Plié for the Arts, Benain offered a number of workshops for local dancers in ballet, jazz, afro rhythms and modern dance. Again two dancers, Azariah Jones and Steven Cornwall, were singled out to participate in upcoming intensives at the Alvin Ailey School in New York.

Benain is putting together plans for the establishment of the Plié Academy of Excellence, which will serve as an incubator for the development of elite performers; by preparing them for life on the international stage focusing on key areas of musical theatre — dancing, acting, and singing.

Looking to 2018, the major project for Plié for the Arts is a performance featuring American prima ballerina Misty Copeland. Benain and her team are commencing the preparations with intensive workshops conducted by American dancer Terk Lewis.

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