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Troika back on the stage after two-year hiatus

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Creative director Sacha Dill in front, leading dancers in the DanceSations’ studio in rehearsal for Troika’s new production Resurgence (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

After two years of lockdowns and quarantines, Troika is preparing to hit the stage again this month with dance show Resurgence, Return to the Stage.

“We were working on a dance showcase right before the pandemic hit, but this one is completely different,” Troika organiser Seldon Woolridge said. “The show is called Resurgence, because, after being dormant during Covid-19, this is a return to the stage in a big way. Audiences should expect some great performances.”

Mr Woolridge founded the performance group in 2009, with Shoa Wolfe, to highlight the talent of Bermuda’s young people.

There will be 50 dancers from age 12 to mid twenties in the show, and seven choreographers.

“It is exciting to see Troika’s next generation coming online,” Ms Wolfe said. “Seldon and I know it will come to a point where we have to step back a bit.”

Shanna Henry and Sacha Dill are the creative directors for the show. Both women have danced in numerous productions since Troika began, but this is their first time taking on leadership roles.

Creative director Shanna Henry leading a rehearsal for Troika’s new production Resurgence (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

“Creating your own dance showcase is more work than people would normally think,” Ms Henry said. “You have to make sure the choreographers and dancers are all okay. Then there are costumes to deal with behind the scenes.”

But she said the role has been a tremendous opportunity, allowing her to expand her creativity and leadership skills.

The duo felt a lot of pressure to make sure the production was up to Troika’s high standards.

“I have never really put on something this big,” Ms Dill said. “It has been a fun experience.”

The 30 year old is a technical assistant in a reinsurance company by day, and teaches at DanceSations in the evenings.

Ms Dill said one of the most challenging parts of being a creative director has been the scheduling.

“A lot of choreographers want to use certain dancers,” she said. “Also, you have to be your choreographer’s support person. If something goes wrong, you have to be there for them emotionally. It has been a really good process. There has been a lot of growth.”

Some dance groups in the show started rehearsing last November while others started in December.

Dancers in United Dance Productions’ studio rehearsing under Shanna Henry for Troika’s new production Resurgence (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

“We have been at this for quite a while,” Ms Henry said. “There is a lot of talent from all different dance schools on the island in the show.”

Ms Wolfe said navigating rehearsals through ever changing Covid-19 protocols has been difficult.

“Two of our choreographers are overseas,” she said. “They have had to utilise technology to conduct their rehearsals, but most rehearsals have been done in person.”

Her own daughter, Shia Bean, grew up watching Troika productions come together. This year, the 14 year old will be choreographing and dancing in her own piece.

Through the ups and downs of the pandemic, Shia has continued to dance, practising in the confines of her own home, when she had to.

“It is strange to come back and dance with real people again,” the CedarBridge Academy student said.

Her dance Better, will involve herself and two other dancers.

“It is a spiritual piece,” Shia said. “I am a Christian. My dance walks through my struggles and how my life has gotten better.”

She also wants to dispel some of the stereotypes around liturgical dance.

“Sometimes it is seen as ‘church dance’,” she said. “Church dances are seen as strict and left at one point. I want to expand a little more and add more ballet and technique into liturgical dance.”

The dancers she is directing are all adults, which brings with it some challenges.

When they mess up, Shia has to correct them, as the choreographer, no matter how much older they are than herself. She also has to navigate around their schedules.

“They are adults, so they do work,” Shia said. “Also, I have had to figure out what their strong suits are and to work with them.”

Mr Woolridge said it has been wonderful to give Bermuda’s young people the opportunity to get back on stage after such a long hiatus.

He said the dancers did not seem rusty at all, because they had found creative ways to practice and grow. Ms Henry and Ms Dill, for example, made dance videos during the pandemic. Ms Henry’s creative efforts even led to her forming a new production company, Golden’s Initiatives.

Ms Henry said she will be doing “two and a half” pieces in the show.

“My main piece will be called My Love: I Can’t Use Another Sorry. It is a contemporary piece, based off the 2010 movie For Coloured Girls. It gives us a break down that the different emotions that each colour represents. We are not working into a new season without the title of that colour, holding us down.”

Ms Wolfe was impressed by the talent shown by Ms Dill, Ms Henry and the other participants in Resurgence.

“Their level of talent will be an asset and a contribution to Bermuda,” she said. “We need people to come out and see them.”

Choreographer Shia said she was excited to see it all come together.

“It is exciting to see how everyone else works and how they express themselves as dancers,” she said.

Her dream is to become a neonatal nurse. Being a choreographer in Resurgence has helped her learn organisational and leadership skills, which she thought will come in handy, whatever she does in the future.

Mr Woolridge said Resurgence is an opportunity not just for their dancers, but also for audiences to see live performances again.

He said people are hungry for live theatre again.

Resurgence will be held in the Earl Cameron Theatre at City Hall on April 22 and 23. The doors open at 7.30pm and showtime is at 8pm. Regular tickets are $35, and $50 for patrons, available at www.bdatix.com.

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Published April 11, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated April 12, 2022 at 7:57 am)

Troika back on the stage after two-year hiatus

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