Arts & Culture

Jamaicans get Ailey nod

Thursday, September 28, 2017

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TWO Jamaican dancers, Azariah Jones and Steven Cornwall, have been selected to participate in a week-long intensive at the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater School in New York.

The intensive will either be in December or next summer.

Both were awarded the scholarships after having participated in a series of workshops organised by Plie for the Arts as part of the outreach for the just-concluded production Amalgamation, which featured artistes from some of the top dance companies in the United States.

Marisa Benain of Plie For the Arts noted that the four workshops which covered from ballet to Afro rhythms saw dancers from every local company — from as far away as Negril — benefiting from the expertise which was shared.

“This is what Plie for the Arts is all about. We want to not only bring international performers here, but will host workshops and seminars with local performers. So Steven and Azariah will go off for a one-week intensive at the Ailey School and this scholarship with cover classes, accommodation, airfare, and per diem,” said Benain.

Jones — who is a 15-year-old student at Campion College and dances with The Company Dance Theatre, The Vickers Ballet Studio and Campion Dance Society — was bubbling with excitement at the opportunity to participate in the workshop that led to her selection.

“It was different from what is normally here in Jamaica... you have your dancehall and your regular modern, but their modern was a lot more technical with precise defined movements; a strong ballet aspect to it as opposed to the free-flowing movement that we have here. It pushed me to see a different side of what dance is like outside of what Jamaica has. It also allowed me to realise that I'm capable of a lot more than I think I am and just helped me to grow. So I hope the Ailey intensive will open more doors for me,” said Jones.

For Cornwall, the workshops opened his eyes to different styles of dance and instruction.

“I'm still excited that I have been chosen to go on to the Ailey intensive. Words can't express because this is what I've always wanted to do and Ailey is one of the companies that I look forward to seeing. So for me to be there in the same building as the Ailey dancers... I can't wait for it. I am most looking forward to the training... that intense training and the performance skills.”

“What Marisa is doing is an amazing job. Most of us Jamaican dancers are not always travelling and able to see these international acts, so when they are here we can see what the world of dance is like,” Cornwall added.

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