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Akuzuru (T&T)

With a strong lineup of performances from T&T and across the globe, the COCO Dance Festival is on and online. The 2021 incarnation, from October 30 to 31, will feature the work of major international choreographers such as Reggie Wilson and Rena Butler, both from the US, as well as T&T contemporary visual artist Akuzuru, who has an international reputation for her site-specific performances. Also on the list of guests is Amir Denzel Hall, a young artist also from T&T, who will present a multidisciplinary work.

Rena Butler, a recipient of the prestigious Princess Grace Award for Choreography, has presented work around the world, including at The New Orleans Museum of Modern Art and CHTV Stories in Switzerland. Reggie Wilson has performed and conducted workshops and community projects throughout Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the Caribbean. His choreography is heavily influenced by the spiritual traditions of the African diaspora, blending the ritual style movement with contemporary dance.

The festival also boasts choreographer participation from Barbados, the UK, Mexico, Sint Maarten and Zimbabwe.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to impact the ability to return to live stage performances, COCO’s two-day lineup, in keeping with its goal to nurture up-and-coming dance artists as well as highlight established ones, will include dance-on-video works by seasoned artists who have become skilled in crafting dance performances for the digital domain, alongside those now entering the arena.

Sonja Dumas, co-director of the COCO Dance Festival, said: “The festival itself has had to adjust its selection criteria from work made for live stage performance, to the pieces crafted for virtual theatre—defining a direction for the evolving online festival. With the incredibly steep learning curve, the COCO team also appreciates that submissions are displaying a clear divergence into two branches, from the international and more diverse communities, the festival now reaches. It’s always been COCO’s goal to nurture up-and-coming dance artists as well as highlight established ones. We continue to do this, pandemic or no pandemic.

“The entire COCO team, composed of dance practitioners Nancy Herrera, Dave Williams and Nicole Wesley, is also heartened by the 50 per cent uptick in applications. We’re glad that we can be a creative outlet for those who are bravely making work, in the face of a tremendous upheaval of the sector.”

The COCO Dance Festival runs online via WACK 90.1 FM, at 2 pm next week Saturday and Sunday. Admission is FREE, but donations during the show via WACK’s crowdfunding platform on fundmetnt.com are welcome.