IN MOTION: "Diversity is something we always aim to deliver," shares the troupe's artistic director.
"This season we are presenting five new works, which is a record for us," reveals Artistic Director Dr. Monika Lawrence, dishing with TALLAWAH about the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble's 2014 season, which unfolds inside the Little Theatre this Saturday and Sunday.
Setting a new record aside, this year finds the company collaborating with international choreographers from Cuba, the United Kingdom and the United States (the US-based Black Arts Academy commissioned one of the new works) in a bid to satisfy their diehard patrons with a richly diverse tapestry of movement and rhythm. "The diversity is something we always aim to deliver," Dr. Lawrence insists.
With an expanding feeder programme through which junior dancers climb the ranks to becoming full-fledged company members, Stella Maris is a troupe that is, unsurprisingly, heavily informed by growth and change. "We don't consider what we do as work; it's really a growing process for us," shares the artistic director. "We've had our challenges, but the passion is still there, and several of our founding members are still around nurturing the youngsters. So Stella Maris is not so much a dance company; we consider ourselves a big family."
At 21, the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble also remains committed to fusing performance with philanthropy. This year, proceeds from the season, being staged under the patronage of Super Plus CEO Wayne Chen, will benefit the Cherry Gardens Citizens' Association and the Franciscan Missionary Sisters (the "Blue Sisters"), who are celebrating their 85th anniversary. Apart from Super Plus, the sponsoring partners include the CHASE Fund, Jamaica National, Digicel, Reggae Jammin' and the Gleaner Company.
"We've had our challenges, but the passion is still there."