Home grown talent: Eric Bean brings his first full length concert to Bermuda. *Photo supplied
Home grown talent: Eric Bean brings his first full length concert to Bermuda. *Photo supplied

FRIDAY, AUGUST 12: Eric Bean Jr. is a dancer much like Maya Angelou is a poet. Not in the sense that he is world renowned and celebrated (yet), but in the sense that he was born to be a force in a particular art form.

To recognize his natural penchant to dance, one needs only to observe Eric dancing. His movements are all at once visceral, beautiful and liberating.

The Berkeley Institute graduate he is a gleaming example of what young Bermuda is contributing to the world at large. Tonight marks Bean’s first ever full-length dance show — a show he conceived, choreographed and directed from beginning to end.

He describes Return to Paradise as “a work triggered by the surge in violence in Bermuda’s community.”

The show will merge dance and spoken word into an artistic interrogation of the effects of violence on love and loss in our delicate community.

Bean began his dance career at the United Dance Productions studio at the age of 15. Since then, he has immersed himself in dance, taking his passion to their logical conclusions — a BFA in dance education and numerous projects with such prestigious dance outfits as the Koresh Dance Company, Eleone Dance Theater and the Bermuda Civic Ballet.

I tracked him down during his preparations for his big weekend and ask him a few simple questions. His answers were clear, and passionate, much like his movements on stage.

Your bio says that you began your formal dance training at 15-years-old. That’s quite late — what was your relationship with the art form prior to that?

Before I started dancing at 15 all I really enjoyed doing was singing in the school choir and dancing around my house, pretending I was in music videos. But then I had the opportunity to audition for the Road Show, which was directed by Patricia Pogson, and fell in love with dance. She then awarded me a scholarship to take classes at United Dance Productions the following year. From there, Ms Suzette Harvey noticed my passion, took an interest in my development and offered me a scholarship to take any class I liked but I had to take ballet in order to keep that scholarship. The rest is history.

Describe your passion for dance, and where you’d like to take it ultimately.

Dance has become the very essence of who I am as a person. Over the years I have learned that it is one of the purest art forms there is because you must be truthful with yourself and your movement in order for the audience to believe the story you are telling. Ultimately, it is my goal that the programmes I have begun to create under my charity, Jaricco.Dance (such as Styles of 2 Summer Dance Intensive and Jaricco.Dance Presents) will become a staple in not just our country but the dance community both nationally and internationally creating, in essence, a Jacob’s Pillow (dance festival) on the island of Bermuda. Through these programmes, we will help develop and strengthen the training and technique the students have already acquired from their various teachers throughout the years and give them opportunities to grow as young artists and professionals in the field of dance. It is my hope that Jaricco.Dance will become synonymous with excellence in the arts!

Tell us a little about Return to Paradise.

Return to Paradise is an evening length dance concert that takes a look at love and loss as it is affected by violence. It uses movement and spoken word to translate one idea into several smaller stories that people universally relate to.

What have been your proudest moments in dance up to now?

Thus far the proudest moment in my dance career is the creation of this production. It is my first full evening length work and I am extremely nervous about it because it’s the first time I’ve really tried to explore my artistic voice as a choreographer. But I could not be more proud and excited to share this with my island community, friends and family as I am at this very moment.

What is your personal assessment of the availability and quality of dance in Bermuda?

There are great dancers and dance teachers in Bermuda as well as a number of great summer programmes. However, I do feel that Bermuda is lacking in outlets for young dancers to express their art as well as opportunities for those who wish to do this as a profession. There has been talk of a performing arts school being created and I think this is definitely a step in the right direction. We need to really start exposing these young people to the same level of discipline young dancers are exerting all over the world because when you are a professional artist, your work is not a job, but your life.

Do you plan on continuing a relationship with dance in Bermuda in the future?

I hope to allow my charity and its programmes to grow over the coming years so that it may help strengthen and enhance the relationship that Bermuda has with the international dance community.