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Stella Maris dance season to aid Franciscan Missionary Sisters

Published:Sunday | November 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Stella Maris Dance Ensemble's principal dancer Roxanne Corniffe in 'Where is Maria?', choreographed by Dr Monika Lawrence.
Stella Maris Dance Ensemble's principal dancer Wendi Hoo Fatt in 'Selah', choreographed by Dr Monika Lawrence.

The 21st anniversary season of the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble, to be staged at the Little Theatre on Saturday, November 8 and Sunday, November 9, will be in aid of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters, also known as the Blue Sisters.

Co-founder of the ensemble, Dr Monika Lawrence, said as the Franciscan Missionary Sisters celebrate their 85th anniversary, the dance ensemble wanted to assist in raising funds for the missionaries to continue the outstanding work they have been doing for nearly nine decades throughout Jamaica and the Caribbean in helping the poor and needy.

"The ensemble will also be seeking support from corporate Jamaica, many members of which are already familiar with the work that the missionaries do," said Lawrence.

The Stella Maris Dance Ensemble evolved from the Stella Maris Preparatory School Dance Troupe, which was founded by the school's principal, Sister Mary Joseph.

Free full-length show

In addition, on Friday, November 7 at 7 p.m., the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble will host a free full-length show, for the fifth consecutive year, for about 500 children from homes of safety, children's homes, identified communities, and church groups. Reggae Jammin will again provide refreshments for the children prior to the show.

The show on Saturday, November 8 will be a benefit performance for The Cherry Gardens Citizens' Association in aid of their charities.

This year, Stella Maris Dance Ensemble's season will feature five new works by local and international choreographers.

Wanted, by Dr Kemal Nance, an eminent scholar and certified Umfundalai instructor, was inspired by his experience in response to the criminalisation of black men. This work will feature principal male dancers Jamal Wakeling, Gavin Hart, Mashell Bailey, André Hinds, Alvan Small, Patrick Green, and Andrano Graham.

season highlights

Tony Wilson, artistic director of The Company, a respected choreographer and dance teacher, will premiere Patchwork to the music of Michael Smith, Mutabaruka, Piter, and Kajeem. Stella Maris Dance Ensemble ballet master and renowned dancer Abeldo Gonzales will showcase a duet featuring principal dancers Roxanne Corniffe and Gavin Hart.

Lawrence will premiere Possibilities. This work looks at the decadence of society and the formula necessary for its success. This dance drama is riveting and thought provoking, with Sue-Ellen Pingue and André Hinds leading the ensemble.

Another highlight of the season will be My Language, which is commissioned and written by Curtis King, CEO and founder of The Academy of Black Arts and Letters in the United States (US). The poem is voiced by American actress Jasmine Guy, who began her television career as a dancer in the television series Fame. She also appeared in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Living Single.

US premiere

My Language is choreographed by Gonzales, assisted by Lawrence, and will feature Karen Seymour Johnson and Joan Belfon, well-known dramatist and playwright with the ensemble.

This work will be premiered by the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble in February, 2015 in the US.

In addition, the repertoire will include Gye Nyame by H. Patten of London; and an annual favourite, Where is Maria, choreographed by Lawrence, which will be mounted in honour of the Blue Sisters.

The 21st season of the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble will be held under the distinguished patronage of Mr Wayne Chen.