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Chance meeting abroad leads to master class at UNCC, CPCC
International ballet dancer Myrna Kamara instructs
Published Sunday, September 8, 2019 3:15 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Myrna Kamara will perform “Moon Duet” with Graham Company principal dancer Lorenzo Pagano sept. 6-7 at UNC Charlotte’s Robinson Hall. She’s also conducting master classes at UNCC and Central Piedmont Community College.

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A connection made in Italy brought Myrna Kamara to Charlotte.

UNC Charlotte associate professor of dance Kim Jones and Kamara met in 2018 at Orsolina 28, a dance retreat. Jones, a régisseur for the Martha Graham Resource Center as well as founder and artistic director of Movement Migration, invited Kamara to Charlotte for a two-week residence that starts this month. Kamara’s time in Charlotte includes teaching master classes at UNCC, Central Piedmont Community College, and Charlotte Ballet Academy. The residency also features a performance in UNCC’s first performance of the school year—the Fall Faculty Concert Sept. 6-7 at Belk Theater’s Robinson Hall.

Kamara will perform Martha Graham’s “Moon Duet” with Graham Company principal dancer Lorenzo Pagano.

“This is something very new,” she said, “learning the language of Graham, which is something I never imagined I could do because I didn’t have the opportunity. I didn’t know someone, and then came Kim. I met her last summer in Orsolina 28. It’s a beautiful dance retreat in Italy.”

Kamara’s background is with companies like the Miami City Ballet, where she was the principal dancer, as well as New York City Ballet. Graham is an entirely different experience for her.

“Contraction is the basis of the Graham technique,” said Jones, who danced with the Graham Company from 2001-06.

Said Kamara:  “I’m very excited for this opportunity because it’s something completely aside from what I’m normally dancing [and] performing. I’m a Balanchine-based dancer.”  

Kamara became enraptured with the Graham technique when she gave it a try.

“I took Graham classes for one week,” Kamara said of venturing into the project. “I started the first day, and the second day, ‘I’m going to do this. I’m going to do this.’ I felt my body in another place. Graham is actually very, very good for ballet dancers. They go very well together. This is an amazing experience for me, and I owe it all to Kim.”  

In addition to performing as a principal guest artist, Kamara also founded BalletXtreme, a smaller company in Zurich, Switzerland in 2016.
“It’s contemporary ballet with a neoclassical theme,” she said.

Kamara’s Charlotte residency offers her the opportunity to step into the roles of teacher, student and performer. She took class at Open Door Studios, taught by former Charlotte Ballet dancer Ben Kubie, during her first weekend in Charlotte.  

“It was an amazing class,” Kamara said. “It was so well-connected. It really motivated me for my rehearsal.”  

It’s about translating knowledge from one person to another in every role.

“When I teach in master classes, I’m also giving the information, just like the teacher today,” Kamara said. “I’m giving as much as I can from what I’ve learned from my teachers, to give and pass it on—passing the torch to help them achieve their goals, because not everyone is going to be a dancer. Let’s face it. That’s just how it is. Dance, in general, it’s not easy, but can do something to your mind to make you feel very confident, very sure of yourself when you go into a job and you’re putting on a suit in the office, you have that look. You have that presentation that they’re looking for. I like to give as much as I can to the younger students. I like them to understand it’s not about just Facebook and Instagram—that’s all lovely, but there’s the thing of being respectful in the class—discipline. When the time comes to be at the barre, you’re at the barre, in position.”
Her message to students is that of awareness.

“Be aware,” Kamara said. “Be aware of what you’re doing, how you act, how you treat the people around you. It all goes together, because nobody knows it all.”


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