This year three Jamaican dancers will be featured in celebrated choreographer Debbie Allen's Hot Chocolate Nutcracker scheduled to take place at the Redonda Beach Performing Arts Center in California from November 30 to December 4. The partnership was initiated when Allen was invited to Jamaica by Plié for the Arts' Artistic Director Marisa Benain, in June of this year, for a series of masterclasses for dancers across the island. During the masterclasses, Allen was impressed with the level of technique of the dancers as well as the performance of the Plié Collective, which comprises principal dancers from various Jamaican dance companies who performed Renee McDonald's critically acclaimed work, Confrontation.
The dancers selected were Steve Cornwall, Faybian Grizzle and Matthew Johnson. All three dancers perform with the Plié Collective for its annual Amalgamation Gala, but it must be noted that Cornwall is a principal member with the Company Dance Theatre, Grizzle is a performer with the Ashe Company and Movements Dance Theatre, and Johnson is employed to Riu Hotel as a dancer. When Allen was asked about this partnership with Plié, she said she was "thrilled to invite these incredible dancers from Jamaica on Debbie Allen Dance Academy's return to live theatre after COVID. It's also a wonderful opportunity for the dancers to dance alongside their brothers from another side of the world whose commitment for the love of dance makes us one big family".
For Plié's Artistic Director Marisa Benain, "This partnership is on the short list of what many persons would call the impossible dream. Though we have hosted dancers from the four corners of the earth and from the most prestigious dance companies and individual dancers in the world, such as Misty Copeland, Desmond Richardson, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Alonzo King Lines, Parsons Dance and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, we are still literally pinching ourselves to be working with an icon like Debbie Allen on such an amazing family production that the world loves and needs. We are overjoyed for the dancers and hope they make the very best of this opportunity.
Making this dream a reality would have been impossible without the assistance of the CHASE Fund, Sagicor Bank and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport. We do hope this partnership will be an annual one, and both male and female dancers will join the Hot Chocolate Nutcracker in the future.