Erica Lall shares with her Jamaican familySunday, July 11, 2021
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
ERICA Lall, ballerina with the New York-based American Ballet Theater, was in Jamaica for four days last week as part of the Summer Intensive series organised by Pliť for the Arts.
Over the period, Lall, who along with prima ballerina Misty Copeland is among the few African American dancers with the company, told the Jamaica Observer that it was a no-brainer when she was asked to be part of the series as she considers Jamaica to be a second home, given her Jamaican mother.
“I was so excited to come here. They didn't have to ask twice. I was sold once it was suggested... it was an instant yes. This is my second home and I love coming here everytime. Everyone is so warm and inviting. Plus, I love teaching. Just seeing how eager these young dancers are and their level of focus is so gratifying. They were so into improving their technique and I could see the growth as the days went by. They took correction and applied it, so that made my work here an absolute joy,” she shared.
In addition to teaching classes in ballet, Lall also participated in a panel discussion where she shared her experiences in the world of ballet and took questions from her eager audience.
“Everything about coming here for this intensive was so special. I brought my own crazy energy to whatever we did and shared how the dancers can make ballet fun. In addition to the classes, this trip was so great as I had a chance to see family and really get into the vibe here in Kingston... just to mesh into the culture in a way that I have never had the chance to do before. This has made my commitment to Jamaica even stronger. I have always said I would move here permanently at some point and open a ballet school, and this trip has confirmed that. Jamaica is where I belong... I feel at home.”
Lall is the first of the international dancer/tutors who will share their knowledge with local dancers over the next three weeks as part of the programme, which has the support of the United States Embassy. The other three guest lecturers are Michael Jackson Jr of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dusty Button, and Zoey Anderson of Parsons Dance.
Artistic director of Pliť for the Arts Marisa Benain noted that a concerted effort was made to open the series to dancers from across the island in addition to the major dance companies primarily located in the Corporate Area.
“The truth is, dancers are hungry to dance. We have been locked away for a year and a half due to COVID, so this has just been an excellent opportunity to get classes taught by world-class instructors. The classes so far have been at full capacity, given the restrictions due to protocols. The classes are free of cost, so all the dancers have to do is turn up. I made sure to reach out to all the troupes, groups, ensembles and companies across the island so we have representatives from Montego Bay, Westmoreland, Portmore plus dancers from Kingston sharing in this experience.”
Benain said she was specific in choosing the instructors to share their various techniques.
“I wanted persons who were not only good performers, but good teachers as well. Erica, for example, is a graduate of the Jackie Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre, plus her Jamaican connection made her a great choice. She taught the Balanchine technique. Dusty will share lyrical intense jazz and has taught at every major dance convention in the US. So has Zoey, who will be teaching the Parsons style. Michael Jackson Jr will be teaching [the] Horton technique.”
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login