This article was originally published to the T&T Guardian (24/07/16)
Fana Fraser, a T&T-born dancer currently residing in New York, is one of the New Waves! 2016 artistes-in-residence. She will perform the T&T debut of her first original composition, Rosie, July 28-29 at Trinidad Theatre Workshop [formerly at the Nalis Amphitheatre], as part of the New Waves! programme.
New Waves! is an initiative of the Dance & Performance Institute, an international community of dance and performance artistes, a forum for exchange, and series of programmes on contemporary dance and performance based in T&T. The institute also spearheads the Carnival Performance Institute.
In a Skype interview, Fraser said she was excited to perform her own work in Trinidad for the first time. While here, she will also give an artistes’ talk with New Waves! director, Makeda Thomas, titled Fantastic Fantasies, and teach a class at her alma mater, Metamorphosis Dance Co.
Fraser is also looking forward to working with dancer and choreographer Sonja Dumas, and former schoolmate and Guardian Sunday Arts Section writer Shivanee Ramlochan, who will offer feedback and support on her piece.
Fraser, who grew up with a huge extended family, said she was inspired to create her own work following the birth of her nephew last year. “So I asked, ‘How can I be home?’ Sometimes we have this idea of once you leave, you leave and you can’t come back or if you come back, where do you fit in?”
Rosie is a dance theatre piece that follows the title character as she navigates a series of unexpected and bizarre events.
“It’s very fantastical in the sense that it’s almost a daydream. I’m interested in things that might seem a little absurd, that at first glance you might ask what’s actually happening, that the viewer then is wanting to really look in and see what is happening.
“It’s like a scene from someone’s everyday life, expanded and made even more fantastical or more absurd than everyday life.”
In developing the character of Rosie, she asked a lot of questions. “What are the different things that she’s pulling from to be born or to be made? How does this relate to my life and where is it coming from for me? What is the connection with society, especially Caribbean society and Trinidadian society? Who is this person, what does it mean and what does she want?”
Fraser said storytelling is in her blood, as her father and brother are both journalists and her mother was a language teacher and singer.
“Dance and performance continue to be my primary method for sharing stories. I love using my body’s instinct and sensitivity to create movement.”
Fraser began her dance training at the Caribbean School of Dancing and is an honours graduate of the Ailey/Fordham BFA Dance programme. She currently lives and works in New York, and has worked with many organisations and companies following her training.
“I think what I have tried to always bring to any project or company or choreographer that I’m working with, is that natural sense of storytelling and of theatre that we have in T&T, the way we tell stories and the voices and the hand movements, just our natural storytelling abilities.”
New Waves! 2016 opened on Monday with a celebration including cocktails, dinner and dancing at 24 Erthig Road, Belmont; both Fraser and her fellow artiste-in-residence Deborah Hazler are expected to be there.
Fraser’s talk on Fantastic Fantasies takes place tomorrow at 5 pm with Makeda Thomas at the Caribbean School of Dancing, Dere Street, Port-of-Spain. Entrance is free of charge but participants must register by email.