art in all its forms

art in all its forms

3/21/10

Dave Williams on NAPA



Renowned local dancer: ‘NAPA an ornate twig’
By Andre Bagoo Newsday Friday, March 19 2010


ACCLAIMED dancer Dave Williams, who performed at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Port-of-Spain last year, yesterday described aspects of the design of NAPA as “dangerous” for dancers as he criticised the building as being “nothing more than a very ornate twig.”

In a statement on defects of the building, Williams, a renowned choreographer, also revealed new details of defects in the building which has been criticised by the Artists Coalition of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT) in a report.

“If you are going to build a landmark performing arts facility that not only looks as good as any other on the planet but also functions better and plays the part it is supposed to play on the local and international artscape as the newest space of its kind in artdom, then the NAPA is indeed nothing more than a very ornate twig,” Williams said in an e-mail to Newsday.

Williams danced at the opening ceremony of the NAPA last November, which was put on by designer Brian Mac Farlane. Memorably, his body was covered in a golden sheath as he danced a version of his work in progress
Scan at the very start of Mac Farlane’s show.

But in a detailed statement, Williams revealed that the NAPA stage has featured “dangerous gaps in (its) flooring panels.”

“The NAPA stage consists of segments that can move independently, to allow for the movement of sets and cast on and off stage to create spectacular scenes and transitions. When they move and change, the gaps between the moving segments become hazardous as they are of varying and unpredictable sizes, from almost seamless to the size that a big toe can be snapped in,” he notes.

He also reveals that there was no dance mat inside the building noting that, “A dance mat is a very specialised floor covering or mat that works to support the cushioning and spring that a dance floor should afford dancer.”

Additionally, the rehearsal spaces and studios are built with concrete floors, he lamented.

“Dancers need sprung floors that absorb and cushion the shock of dancers moving on it and which also work like mini trampolines to assist in jumps and lifts. Floors are generally built to specific standards using wood,” he notes. “The stage floor is not sprung. The stage floor should, like all other dance floors, allow for the same cushioning and support mentioned before.”

“There are face-to-face mirrors in studios. Many of the studios are equipped with mirrors on walls that face each other. This produces an infinite regress effect that gives multiple images of the subject going into infinity. Very distracting and it does not allow the dancer/artist to see him/herself properly. But is very easy to correct, by removing one panel of mirrors.”

Williams also agreed with other criticisms of the building as noted by the ACTT in its dossier noting that the orchestra pit is too deep; the “lighting board is analogue”; and that the loading doors to the theatre are “too small. And they’re glass.” 

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