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Changing the perception of dance

Published: 
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Dream Diptych, choreographed by Claudia Applewhaite, soloist Shari Rhyner. An iconic image of Metamorphosis in performance, by the late Jeffrey Chock. Photo courtesy Metamorphosis Dance Co

Despite being one of the best known dance organisations in the Caribbean, with international collaborations, a record number of students accepted into top dance schools and dance companies across the globe, and 18+ years of successful dance seasons, the Metamorphosis Dance Co has yet to attract a long-term investor. “The theatre side of the local creative industry is still very much a barter system,” explained Nancy Herrera, the company’s artistic director. “Some captains of industry get it and have been very supportive. Over the years, many have given a little, but dance is a hard sell. “It’s hard for them to understand how to invest in it... it’s very ephemeral. Unless you film it, it’s over. Dance only lives in the moment of performance. You can’t ‘own’ it. “It's so easy as a sportsman, for me to wear your logo on my chest, but as a dancer, I can’t be branded for you.” 

 

Herrera said the company has been working on some creative ways of making their brand even more attractive for investment. The company has also recently begun the process of establishing the Metamorphosis Dance Foundation. She thanked founding directors Bobby Campbell, Ria Morgan, Susan Shurland and Gerard Williams for their generosity over the years. Metamorphosis’ 20th anniversary and dance season is themed Perception. "This is the first kindling of the 20th anniversary fire,” Herrera said. “Our anniversary committee is already in place and we are in the process of choosing the defining pieces of choreography over the years and working out how we plan to reproduce them.” Possibilities for the Perception anniversary production include an invitation to past company members from original casts to return, along with a musical collaboration with world renowned and award-winning T&T jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles. “Etienne is no stranger to the company. He first played the trumpet for Metamorphosis at our 2000 Season, Dance Spirit, in the St James Amphitheatre, accompanying his sister Abby, a soloist of Metamorphosis at the time.” 

 

The music from Charles’ album Creole Soul inspired Bridgette Wilson, Metamorphosis’ resident choreographer, to create the first half costumes. The second half costumes are being designed by visual artist Simone Phillips. “We are also revisiting original costumes, some of them designed by local greats like Carlisle Chang. We have a lot of beautiful archives,” Herrera said. Perception will also include the celebration of long-time Metamorphosis photographer, the late Jeffrey Chock. “It was his photography that really set us apart. He captured all of the iconic Metamorphosis moments in dance and made us look like exactly who we were. When you look at these pictures, you realise that it was his eye that made us what we are today.” Twenty dancers now perform with the company, proficient in classical, ballet, modern, Afro-Caribbean folk dance, jazz and tap. The majority of the repertoire is modern and contemporary. Over the years, the company has worked with and produced an impressive line-up of dancers, some of whom are the bright stars of reputable dance companies all over the world and some of whom are now making their first leaps into the international dance world. With this impressive record of success, perhaps the 2014 season will be an opportunity for the Metamorphosis Dance Co to change the perception of dance among investors in corporate T&T.

 

The Show

Perception runs from May 1-3 at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s. All shows begin at 6.30 pm except for May 2, which begins at 7.30 pm. Tickets are available at Caribbean School of Dancing, 2a Dere Street, Port-of-Spain, Monday–Friday, from 8.30 am–6 pm, and at Queen’s Hall box office the week of the show.