AFTER a two-year absence from the local stage due to the pandemic, Amalgamation, the international dance festival presented by Plié for the Arts, is scheduled to return to the Little Theatre in St Andrew on August 9 and 10.
According to artistic director of Plié for the Arts, Marisa Benain, the event which is seeing its fifth staging will also be staged in tribute to Jamaica’s 60th anniversary of Independence.
“Due to the pandemic, we have not had production since 2019 but were able to stay active with workshops, master classes and our summer programme. Our recent master class with Miss Debbie Allen has certainly given us the momentum we need to head into our gala, Amalgamation. The news is that the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will be performing Fix Me Jesus, from Revelations, Mr Ailey’s most famous work and arguably the most-watched modern dance in history,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
Benain was quick to note that the senior company at Alvin Ailey has never performed anywhere in the Caribbean. Their touring company, referred to as Ailey II, has performed in Jamaica.
“This year, Amalgamation will also feature the dancers and dance works from Ayikodans from Haiti, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, American Ballet Theater and Parsons Dance. The Plié Collective will also feature, as well as the newly recruited dancers of the Studio Collective will also perform,” said Benain.
The August 9 staging of the event will include a special performance by Jamaican songbird Tessane Chin and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jamaica. Proceeds from the production will go towards scholarships awarded to some dancers to attend the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in California.
Having not mounted a production of this nature in the past two years, Benain said Plié for the Arts’s reputation over the years has placed them in good stead.
“It has become easier over time to get international dancers to come to Jamaica because of our reputation and the standard of our productions. We have been able to attract the best in the world and we will continue to put in the work to maintain this. The only issues we have faced with international dancers are scheduling issues, their own availability due to company obligations. Otherwise, they all want to come.”
Benain founded Plié for the Arts in 2017 and is committed to development of the performing arts through scholarships and workshops, and to hosting internationally acclaimed artistes to perform and conduct training for local dancers and actors. Since its inception the organisation has hosted Misty Copeland and Desmond Richardson as well as dancers from internationally renowned companies such as, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, American Ballet Theater, The Bolshoi, Alvin Ailey, Parsons, Garth Fagan Dance, and Alonzo King Lines.
“I believe all we have done thus far is in line with our vision, which is to further the development of dance in Jamaica and the Caribbean by providing opportunities for dancers through workshops, scholarships, master classes — and ultimately to share the stage with the best in the world. We continue to dream,” Benain told the Observer.