Sun | Jan 17, 2021

Plie for the Arts launches Dance Academy

Published:Friday | January 3, 2020 | 12:00 AM

The Plie for the Arts organisation is set to expand its offering to the dance community with the creation of a dance training academy to develop young dancers, ages nine to 16, who are serious about their dance technique and general artistic development.

The academy will position itself as an institution which offers a wholesome development package in dance and performance for all its students. The intention is to have one dance seminar by an international dancer/teacher every semester, access to dance intensives locally and internationally, and general information about dance programmes on offer worldwide.

The dance academy will be guided by an advisory board with international acclaim in dance performance, choreography and the teaching of dance worldwide headed by its founder, Marisa Benain.

Board members include Jamaica-born, David Blake, who currently plays the role of Benzai in Disney’s The Lion King in London. Blake started his dance training in Jamaica with the Cathi Levy Players and then the NDTC. A part from playing Benzai in the Disney production, he teaches Lion King dance workshops throughout Europe, as well as Horton at one of London’s most sought-after dance spaces. After over a decade on the West End, he makes a concerted effort to provide guidance and training through his own organisation, Blake Arts, to assist dancers in their preparation for auditions for shows on the West End.

American dance artist Terk Lewis is ecstatic to share his knowledge and experience with young dancers in Jamaica. Lewis has travelled the world as a lead dancer with Complexions Contemporary, and just completed his role in recent live performance of the Broadway hit Jesus Christ Superstar on NBC. He now is a sought after dance teacher at the famous dance studio, Steps on Broadway. Lewis loves coming to Jamaica to dance and teach. He is ready to share his passion in dance with members of academy.

Jamaica’s own international choreographer Renee McDonald, who is currently resident choreographer for the Plie Collective, is also a member of this esteemed advisory board. McDonald is the go-to choreographer for many local companies. It must be noted that her recent work with the Alvin Ailey 11 Dance Company has received international acclaim. She is an attorney-at-law who is currently residing in Spain for a brief period. She is excited to share her knowledge and experience in dance to students of the academy.

The local dance teachers for the academy will be Orville McFarlane, Jessica Shaw, Shaneaka Gibbs, who are trained teachers, and excellent performers with L’Acadco, A United Caribbean Dance Force, along with Kareen McLean, artistic director for the University Dance Society and lead dance teacher at Ardenne High School.

The Plie Dance Academy is set to begin its intensive training program for young dancers on January 10. All students will be assessed at the beginning of each term. The academy can be contacted at