Arts & Culture

Rollins named patron for dance gala

Sunday, May 13, 2018

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Philanthropist and businesswoman Michele Rollins has been named patron for the upcoming performances of American prima ballerina Misty Copeland on August 31 and September 1.

The two shows being produced by local outfit Plié for the Arts are set for the Little Theatre in St Andrew will also feature Complexions Contemporary Ballet out of New York, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jamaica, the University Singers, and a corps de ballet featuring dancers from a number of the top dance companies in Jamaca and as far as Barbados

Head of Plié for the Arts Marisa Benain explained that Rollins was chosen because of some of the great work she has done and continues to do.

“We have a team and we were looking for a patron, and the team came up with three names. We did our research and when we finally met her and told her I knew of some the things that she did, I think she was impressed with that.”

And, for Rollins, being asked to be part of an event featuring Copeland was really a no-brainer.

“Everybody always says if there is ever anything we can do for you, please tell us, and I'm always saying what can I do for you. This is our 60th anniversary for Rose Hall. We've learned a few things in the process and I would love to help in any way . The truth is I was so honoured, it is such a privilege. I have dance experience and I definitely could never have been any kind of ballerina , but I studied dance as a minor at Julliard, where I majored in piano, and I love it. I love what it does. I love watching kids watch the fantasy of dance and then go away saying I'd love to try that. So I was in. The minute I heard about it I was in.”

Rollins stressed the need for a world-class facility that can host events of this nature.

“We need in Jamaica a real performing arts centre with the sprung floor so the top companies in the world can come and perform here without bringing all of that in, as it is an added incentive for them to perform here. We have great jazz, we have great music, great art we need to get it out there. Rex Nettleford did the preface to our Rose Hall book 50 years ago and we are still on the cusp of letting the world know how good our arts are and we've not quite gotten it to a world-class level, and I think it's time. I feel like I'm getting older and I want to see it. I want to be here when it happens... let's get it going. So when I meet Jeremiah and Marisa and they have plans that are so big it was such a natural move and I'm thrilled.

Meanwhile, Benain is nervous given the overwhelming response to the event and is appealing for sponsors to come on board in order for her organisation to execute what she calls a “world- class event”.

“I'm a little nervous to announce the workshops based on the response for tickets for the show, but we're having four or five workshops conducted by the international dancers. We have a seminar that will include Desmond Richardson, co-founder of Complexions. It is noteworthy that he is the first African American principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater, and Misty is the first African American female principal dancer with the same American Ballet Theater. They will be sharing the same stage... not sure if this has ever happened in America.”

“But along with Dwight Rhoden, the other co-founder of Complexions, and our own Patsy Ricketts they will all be on the panel for this seminar. A lot of people don't know that Patsy Ricketts, is a founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Her photo hangs in the African American History Museum in Washington. So, not only will the young dancers meet international stars, they will see that one of our own actually made it — she was hand-picked by Arthur Mitchell. We are still negotiating corporate sponsors... corporate Jamaica should come on board. We shouldn't have to genuflect for a project like this,” Benain continued.


— Richard Johnson

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