February 14, 2005
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2005-02-11 Edition
 

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Copyright © 2004
Bermuda Sun
Developing Bermuda’s dancers

By Meredith Ebbin
(Entertainment from 2005-02-11 Edition)

Irmgard Ong-Abang studied ballet as a child and the youngest of her three sons, nine-year-old Dominic Brown, is a talented dancer as well. Her own employment background covers the gamut: human resources, event management and administration, at such companies as the Bank of Bermuda and Stockton Reinsurance.
That put her in good stead to take on her newest position — programme director of the National Dance Foundation of Bermuda (NDFB), which is based at the Bermuda College. Ms. Ong-Abang took up her new position last month and her main responsibilities will be to coordinate the Foundation’s various programmes, including its gala fundraiser ‘An Evening with Catherine Zeta-Jones’ that, not surprisingly, sold out in three days.
The gala, which will be an annual affair, will take place at the Fairmont Southampton Resort on February 26. Ms. Ong-Abang’s next order of business will be organizing its first annual summer institute.
The Foundation, which grew out of the National Dance Theatre, has as its goal the development of “exceptional dancers and choreographers in Bermuda”.
It has established a link with top U.S. dance company American Ballet Theatre, whose star dancers have included Mikhail Baryshnikov.
ABT will be conducting the summer institute, which will run from August 15 to September 2 and will be open to students from Bermuda and overseas.
Admission is by audition only and will take place on March 13 in New York, March 19 in Bermuda, and March 26 in Toronto. Ms Ong-Abang will be present at all auditions, but neither she nor anyone else from the NDFB, will have any say in the selection process, which will be entirely in the hands of ABT.
This weekend, she will fly to New York to attend an ABT audition for its own school. Tuition for the summer institute is $1,350 and scholarships are available for Bermudian dancers who win places, but can’t afford the fee.
Ms Ong-Abang has been on the job for about three weeks and Donald Kramer, chairman of the NDFB, said in a press release: “Her strong organizational and interpersonal skills made her a valued and admired employee. We are thrilled that Immie is with us as we embark on a year of growth and development.”
Ms Ong-Aban was born in Surinam and raised in Holland. She met her Bermudian husband Walton Brown at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She is multi-lingual, speaking her native Surinamese and Dutch, along with English, French, German and Spanish.
That international background is an asset as well as she will be dealing with dancers, both in Bermuda and abroad, with various backgrounds.
While the gala is the first order of business, she will also be helping to organise master classes ABT will present the week of the Catherine Zeta-Jones gala.
ABT to hold master dance classes
ABT dancers will perform at the gala and have also agreed to do three master classes, in beginner’s and intermediate ballet and hip-hop.
Ballet classes will be taught by Richard Toda, Clinton Luckett and Flavio Salazar, while Danny Tidwell will teach the hip-hop class.
Classes will be conducted on Thursday and Friday, February 24 and 25 at the Bermuda College and at Bermuda High School’s gymnasium. They are free and offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Information about NDFB programmes has been sent to the Island’s five dance schools and NDFB stresses it is not competing with them. It is merely supporting what they do.
Its focus is on exceptional dancers, who with the right training and support, along with the requisite dedication and commitment, have the potential to become professional dancers. It is estimated they represent between 10 and 15 per cent of the 2,500 who are currently studying dance in Bermuda.
Further information about NDTF programmes can be found on its website, www.dancebermuda.org

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