Herrera is the first to admit that when she approached me to write the first article about her daring venture, which she saw as a graduate company of the School of Dance, that there was no certainty as to how it would all pan out.
“I just saw the need for ‘a stepping stone’ for the talented senior dancers of the school.” Twenty years down the road, for Herrera, a graduate of London College of Dance and Drama and Bedford College, and holder of a M.Phil in Cultural Studies from the University of the West Indies, there has only been total success, as apart from anything else she has seen such tremendous growth in the dancers.
“I am their teacher and teach their formative training in classical ballet, see them blossom and morph into dancers in what really is a graduate company of the Caribbean School of Dancing. Some go further to dance professionally in companies abroad, and some make a career other than dancing, such as, choreographers and arts administration, but once they wish to make dance their primary activity to earn their livelihood, they do not stay here, because the only opportunity to earn here is as a teacher.”
Gomez-Herrera, now also qualified as an Advanced Dancer of the Royal Academy of Dancing, for which a lot of others are studying, and are at various levels leading toward this achievement, is a senior teacher at Caribbean School of Dancing where all of the Metamorphosis dancers come from because Metamorphosis is the Dance Company of Caribbean School of Dancing.
We sit together for this joint collaboration down memory lane to share with readers the past two decades of Herrera and Metamorphosis’ triumphs which have led to “CELEBRATING 20”, the name of the upcoming Season during which four shows will be mounted at Queen’s Hall at 6.30 pm from April 16 to April 20, “showcasing the repertoire that made us.”
“That defined us, that we took on tours, but we are not only mounting old pieces, there are pieces that will be premiered in this show as we are not only looking back. We are in the present and looking forward.” One of which is a classical ballet done on point “? song without words” to the music of Mendelssohn, a new piece choreographed by Herrera herself with live musicians Lindy Ann Bodden Rich on the piano and Caitlyn Kamminga on the cello.
The period is also being highlighted by an exhibition in the Queen’s Hall foyer, a commemorative brochure, a DVD presentation, and live performances which will include two of the most important international pieces of choreography by the company, one from Martha Graham’s “Steps in the Street” and the full length contemporary ballet “Giselle.”
Another of Herrera’s special presentations was the company’s 2000 season “Dance Spirit A Tribute to Beryl Mc Burnie” in the St James Amphitheatre.
“Most of the pieces were ‘site specific,’’ she explained “which means they were designed by Robert Lasheras architect of that space.”
As ArtisticDirector/ producer of “Celebrating 20”, Herrera explains, “Basically the season is almost a festival as we celebrate and put perspective on the 20 years of our journey, Three nights, Thursday Friday and Sunday, the programme reflects the journey of 20 years.
The programme for Saturday night is a special fund-raiser in aid of the Metamorphosis Dance Foundation which was launched in October 2014, and this will be a longer evening of dance in which many of the international dancers who are coming from away will be doing solos in addition to the original programme; while some of them from the 1995 cast of “Beginnings” will perform in the piece “Why Bach Why Not”, such as, Zara and Elisha Bartels, Nykiaa Reviellac, Sonnelle Renaud, Lisa Beharry Gift and Abby Charles.
There are certain pieces where men have made a formidable contribution to Metamorphosis as choreographers and dancers, such as in the 1999 Season “Dance Tapestry Woven By Men” where all the choreographers were men. Dancers Allan Balfour, Richard Lessey, Kevin Jack, Delton Frank and Gregoire Breedy who danced in one of the pieces, “Down But Not Out”, are all returning for the first time to dance this piece. Frank’s choreography of “Tribe” a piece which has gone on many tours, will be included every night. Juan Pablo Alba-Dennis, who recently left Metamorphosis to study dance at Alvin Ailey and to pursue a BFA in dance at Fordham University, is also coming back to solo. He has also choreographed within the last few years for Metamorphosis and his piece “?n Moment” which was featured last week-end in the Tobago International Contemporary Festival and danced by the Mets, will be featured in the 20th anniversary performances.
A stickler for punctuality, Herrera stresses that “all shows start on time and latecomers will be accommodated in the intermission. This is one of my pet peeves, people must be on time. Prices are Thursday $100 for students and anyone who needs a discount although they will be seeing the same show. Friday and Sunday evenings are $200. Saturday, a really special night, the fund-raiser is $400.”
Herrera has been “Celebrating 20”, in her very own inimitable style, collecting comments from those who have been with Metamorphosis from Day One. She was very touched by the comments from Fana Fraser, now dancing professionally in New York: “Infinite Gratitude to Metamorphosis for a foundation of courage, diligence and love. Support and encouragement to this wonderful company that continues to unapologetically champion for dance and dancers in Trinidad and Tobago amidst all the bacchanal. To borrow from King David Rudder “that living vibration pulses deep within my Caribbean belly. My reminder to insist upon, and relish in, constant and exacting personal practice.”