Sitting and waiting

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Sitting and waiting

Jamaican in The Lion King shares experience

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 05, 2020

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There are mixed emotions coming from Jamaican dancer Tara Price, who is currently a member of the cast for the UK-based touring company of the hit musical The Lion King.

On one level she is overjoyed at having the opportunity to dance professionally with an international touring company, but on the other, the global crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has the 31-year-old from Portmore, St Catherine, worried and wanting to come home on the first available flight.

Price, and Oraine Frater are the two Jamaicans who are part of the international cast in this touring company and who began their contract in September of last year. They began performances and played at Bristol Hippodrome and then moved on to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, for a run which was set to close on April 18.

However, their performance on March 15 was their last as the authorities in Scotland placed a ban on events over 500 persons, and Edinburgh Playhouse where they are based seats 3,000. Since then all mass gatherings have been banned.

Following this the cast has been sitting in Scotland awaiting word on what's next and whether or not they will move on to Bradford, which was set to be their next stop.

The Jamaica Observer caught up with Price in Edinburgh in-between online rehearsals and other activities to relieve the boredom.

“This has been the most amazing , eventful and biggest learning experience of my life. Just being part of the cast of amazingly creative and talented performers from all over the world is such an experience. It can be rough. As a dancer it is the most physically demanding, and I have learned so much about my body since I've been here. For one thing there is the temperature, but I am so grateful for the experience,” she shared.

However, her mood shifts as the interview touches on the coronavirus crisis.

“My biggest concern during this crisis is that I am not home with family and friends. Being in a familiar space would provide me with a level of comfort and safety. That is not my current situation. I check on my mother everyday, but I can't help but think about the fact that if something should happen I will not be able to catch a flight and come home,” Price noted.

She has nothing but praises for the way the Jamaican authorities are handling the situation, stating that she monitors Jamaican bulletins. She is of the opinion that the average Jamaican is much more aware of the global crisis than their counterparts in the United Kingdom.

In the interim, Price and her fellow dancers do all they can to keep their minds and bodies active. Online ballet classes, rehearsals, video calls to friends and family, whatever it takes to mentally engage. She also uses the opportunity presented by the downtime to learn things she did not have the time to participate in previously.

Price got her early start in dance with the Wolmer's Dance Troupe. Following high school she moved on to Dance Theatre Xaymaca. During those years Price did five years of military service with the Jamaica Defence Force. A two-year stint in the hotel industry on the north coast only fired her passion for dance , and when she returned to the Corporate Area she was determined to make dance her life.

Being overseas, Price is struck by the huge cultural impact that Jamaica has on the world, and feels the pressure to live up to the country's brand.

“The fact that The Lion King is choreographed by a Jamaican, Garth Fagan makes me proud. I feel I have to uphold the legacy of those who performed here before me, and continue the greatness of the former Jamaican cast members Kerry-Ann [Henry], Candice [Morris], and Brenton [Morris]. It is such an awesome feeling.”

Her current contract with The Lion King comes to an end in August through Price said she has already indicated that she is prepared to renew the contract, but will wait to see what happens.


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