Arts Arts Training

Dance Theatre Of Harlem Comes To Barbados

Dance Exchange Welcomes International Dancers

For ten days in July, principal dancers Daphne Lee and Stephanie Rae Williams from the Dance Theatre of Harlem will participate in a residency at Élevé Performing Arts Centre, Wildey. The pilot exchange between Barbados and the USA is designed to connect artists and communities across cultural, social, and geographical divides; offering dancers from different backgrounds and disciplines, unique opportunities to collaborate, innovate and present work. It culminates with two fundraising shows at Combermere School Hall on Friday, 15 July when the dancers will perform and Saturday 16 July. Show time is 7:00pm and tickets are $50 and $40 respectively.

The main aim of the pilot exchange is to actively engage young people in the arts, widen participation for underserved communities, highlight new artistic experiences that reflect cultural and creative diversity and to promote the import and export of creative talent and authentic cultural learning practices.

Dancers at different points in their career will have the chance to collaborate with their international peers, experiment with a range of concepts and practices to create dynamic new work. Beginner and intermediate dancers are also welcome. 

From left to right: Tara Jane Herbert | Louise Woodvine | Stephanie Rae Williams | Daphne Lee | Megghan Michaels | Nicky Ward |
Kemal Marshall

The program will be comprised of three interconnected strands designed to test the principal dancers and participants creatively and professionally.

  • Strand 1: Continued Professional Development (CPD) – the residencies will facilitate an immersive, collaborative environment for dancers, affording them invaluable focused time and space to nurture their choreographic and/or dance practice. 
  • Strand 2: Interactive Studio – a series of virtual sessions connecting aspiring young creatives from the UK to their peers and the professional artists at the residency site. 
  • Strand 3: ‘Dance for Camera’ – a short film and a documentary will be produced to showcase the outputs of the exchanges as well as the creative processes involved.

Tara-Jane Herbert, Élevé Founder & Artistic Director and Jenni Lewin-Turner, Director of Urbanflo Creative jointly produce the pilot exchange. Tara-Jane explained: “Covid brought many challenges, but it was because of these difficult circumstances that the relationship with Daphne Lee from Dance Theatre of Harlem was born.  “And Still I Rise” is about navigating though life’s obstacles, being open to change and finding paths that leads us to unexpected and new places. Over the next 10 days, I am excited to have the opportunity for the students, staff and the wider dance community to learn from our international partners, but mostly excited to showcase the strength, resilience and talents of our Barbadian dancers.” 

The exchange takes inspiration from the hugely successful STEP: CHANGE project produced in the UK for children and young people by the duo, in partnership with Sussex Festival of Performing Arts and South-East Dance. In 2018 and 2019 groups of student dancers and dance companies from Barbados visited the UK where they performed at the prestigious Sussex Festival of Performing Arts, however, the pandemic halted the trips. That break presented the opportunity for new ideas to be introduced and Élevé now wish to extend the STEP: CHANGE remit to encompass professional performers as well as young aspiring creatives – building on new partnerships currently in development with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Institute of Contemporary Theatre and AkomaAsa Arts. 

From left to right:

Daphne Lee, Dance Theatre of Harlem | Alicia Payne Hurley, Dance Officer, National Cultural Foundation | Stephanie Rae Williams, Dance Theatre of Harlem

In lending his full support to the initiative, well known entertainer & musician Norman Barrows, Owner of A & B Music Supplies said: “From the time I met Tara years ago, something clicked, and being a like-minded creative person, I immediately recognized what she was trying to do. The passion with which she talked about her work showed me she was a woman of substance and one with a purpose. Our dancers here don’t get the opportunity to see or work regularly with performers of that caliber. This exchange is something quite phenomenal.

He continued: I see the volume and diversity of students who attend the centre. She is doing a great job and they will no doubt benefit from it. Young people need education in the Arts, as it is critical for their overall development.”

Other sponsors include, CGI Consumers’ General Insurance Co. Ltd., Cosmo Creations, IGM Stage Lighting Inc, It’s Michelle Doyle PR, the National Cultural Foundation and UrbanFlo Creative. 

To book spaces, purchase tickets or for more information, contact Tara-Jane on 232 7089 or email eleveperformingarts@gmail.com.

Contribution by John Hunte.

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