The National Cultural Foundation
St. James, Barbados
In 2020, the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) assisted thousands of creatives with their projects through the COVID 19 Creatives Grant Fund. One of the projects made possible from this is the international award-winning film “Work in Process”.
Behind this film is dancer Stefanie Takei-Taylor. She is a Barbadian citizen who was born and raised in Los Angeles. She pursued her undergraduate education at NYU Tisch School of the Arts gaining her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance.
Thirteen years ago, she moved to Barbados and never left.
“I lived and worked and danced in New York City for a while before coming to Barbados for a Masters… I was only supposed to be here for two years and I ended up falling in love with the country,” she said.
Since then, Stefanie has worked and taught at many local dance schools. Her primary dance disciplines being ballet and modern. She has previously taught at the University of the West Indies and is the former associate director of Barbados Dance Project. Currently, she teaches ballet at Barbados Community College and is the owner and principal of Powerhouse Studios.
Her love for ballet started at a young age. From her mother’s explanation, as Stefanie was around two years old at the time, she saw the Nutcracker and decided she was going to become a ballerina. She enrolled in dance classes and her passion grew.
“From the time I was really little, it was only ballet. I was just ballet focused…and by the time I finished high school in the US, I was dancing 20 something hours a week,” she said.
In addition to ballet, Stefanie teaches and performs modern dance. Up until COVID, she was performing and teaching for Barbados Dance Project. She toured to various places including many times to the COCO Dance Festival in Trinidad. Her last international performance was at Jamaica Dance Umbrella in March 2020.
With travel not allowed, the COCO Dance Festival announced they were doing a dance film festival. Therefore, creating a piece for this show titled ‘Alien’ became her goal. This was the birth of “Work in Process”.
This led her to the NCF’s COVID 19 Creatives Grant. Stefanie worked on a new vision and tried to get everything together for the piece but she was met with various challenges and setbacks due to lockdowns and the volcano incident.
“[We] couldn’t rehearse again so then it was crunch time because I really wanted to film it,” she said.
Stefanie wanted to make “Work in Process”, a site visited piece and found Jaryd Niles-Morris who was the director of photography, co-producer and co-editor of the film. They had a vision of making the piece mainly in St Lucy. However, after picking out the sites and creating some of the choreography for the landscapes, the aftermath of Hurricane Elsa forced the film to be postponed.
The project ended up being filmed at an indoor location. Each scene was picked within 15 minutes of its filming.
“Work in Process” was her first dance for camera project and it has garnered success internationally. It was viewed in various places, such as at MidWest RAD Fest and Dance Camera North, and has won awards over the past few years. In 2022, the film won Best Music Short at the 5th Annual Nederland International Film Festival. A few months earlier, she also won at the Near Nazareth Festival.
Being selected for this Israeli film festival was one of her biggest thrills.
“I feel so honoured that my vision would have touched so many people,” she said with a smile.
Outside of being a grant recipient, Stefanie has worked with the NCF for a long time.
In 2022, she was part of NIFCA Rebirth of a Nation. She expressed her appreciation for NCF’s dance officer, Alicia Payne-Hurley and the overall support of the organisation.
“Alicia Hurley does a phenomenal job of really pushing… all forms of dance…she really works tirelessly and she makes sure that she tries to come to every show and be encouraging to all artistes.
She added: “Every project that I have ever tried to do, I usually reach out to NCF for support and they’re always so nice and so generous…whether it’s grant money, props, a facility or costume, they are always supporting local artists and I think in a small country that art is sometimes overlooked… it’s really heartwarming,” she said.
She was keen on encouraging others to seek assistance and use the opportunities available.
“You will never know unless you try, the worst somebody could say is no or better luck next time or rethink this a little bit more… NCF always has phenomenal opportunities out there and I think people should take advantage of it, they’re doing a great job,” she said.
Presently, Stefanie is putting on Powerhouse Studio’s end of term show, For The Love Of Dance, which will not only be a recital but will showcase more professional dance on the island as well. For those that missed it, her NIFCA piece, Spring, will also be redone for the show. This will take place on July 8th at the EBCCI UWI Theatre.
Additionally, Barbados Dance Project and Powerhouse Studios are launching a choreographic incubator for young artists. This residency programme will give selected choreographers ages 18-30 studio space to create, mentorship from national and international artists, and performance opportunities to showcase their work. (PR)
Written by: Info NCF
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The National Cultural Foundation
St. James, Barbados