Haitian Born Dancer Sanford Placide To Make Debut With Dance Theatre of Harlem

 Sanford Placide Makes New York Debut with Dance Theatre of Harlem
Haitian born dancer Sanford Placide Set to Make Debut with Dance Theatre of Harlem
Sanford Placide

NEW YORK – Haitian born ballet dancer Sanford Placide is set to make his company debut with the world-renowned Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), based in New York City when the curtains go up on Wednesday, April 19 at City Center for the 2017 New York Season.

A long-held dream of the young artist, the 25 year-old Placide follows in the footsteps of Carld Jonassaint who was the first Haitian born dancer with Dance Theater of Harlem in the early ’80’s.

“After years of auditioning, I’m excited to be given the opportunity to showcase my classical dance skills during my first season with the revered Dance Theatre of Harlem, based in New York City,” notes Placide.

His interest in DTH was piqued only by coincidence, after watching the company for the first time on video, performing one of their ballets titled Banda, created by Trinidadian dancer and choreographer Geoffrey Holder.

Banda, which debuted in the 1954 Truman Capote/Harold Arlen musical House of Flowers, is a dance for the Haitian Gede spirits whose manifestations and movements make known their abilities to take life, heal and create laughter.

A young Sanford Placide was very intrigued by the Holder’s portrayal of Haitian vodou culture and there began his love affair with the company.

Mr. Placide admits that he first started out studying piano while in Haiti, however, noted that it was due to his less than proficient musical abilities that led him to the stage.  “I started folkloric dances only because of my lack of talent in piano back home and I didn’t really know much about classical ballet beside the pictures I had seen from encyclopedias and TV shows. However, seeing that video I became intrigued that the company had not only produced a ballet about my culture, but also wore tights and tutus and performed to classical music as well as other traditional ballet companies.”

In 2008, while a student at Ballet Etudes of South Florida, the young dancer participated in his first summer intensive (intermediate level) on a full tuition scholarship at DTH and has not looked back since.

After attending that summer intensive, he was accepted at and attended other summer or full year programs at other prestigious establishments including American Ballet Theatre, Lines Ballet, Ballet Hispanico, Ballet Austin, and Miami City Ballet, just to name a few.

Haitian born dancer Sanford Placide Set to Make Debut with Dance Theatre of Harlem
Sanford Placide in action

After moving to New York in 2010, Sanford Placide continued to pursue his dream, despite numerous obstacles, but determined to be a professional ballet dancer, he trained privately under the tutelage of Nadege Hottier, while attending ballet school full time.

Following his graduation from the NY based French Académie of Ballet under the guidance of François Perron, he landed a job at the North Carolina Dance Theatre present day Charlotte Ballet’s second company, before joining Ballet West in Utah, one of the top ten US ballet companies, and subsequently Alberta Ballet in Canada.

Despite his many travels and transitions, Placide remained persistent and focused never allowing the disappointments to dissuade his passion and kept auditioning at Dance Theatre of Harlem.

With the expiration of his contract with Alberta Ballet, Mr. Placide returned to New York last summer even more determined to land his coveted gig.

Upon receiving a call from DTH’s Artistic Director Virginia Johnson, that changed his life and only shows that persistence does have its reward. Since joining the company, Mr. Placide has traveled to many US and international cities performing for numerous sold out audiences.

Carole Alexis, Director of Ballet des Amériques, who has had the pleasure of working with Placide notes that he is very talented and elated that he will be given this opportunity to showcase his high level of classical dance. “Sanford’s relationship to music is very profound and subtle. He has a unique way of interpreting complex rhythm and transcends the human form with his amazing lines. He is working with very strong and renowned directors and I hope DTH provides a platform where he can make his mark as he has the potential to do enormous things,” noted Alexis.

Placide is the relishing the occasion of his 2017 New York City season debut with DTH, a racially diverse ballet company founded by Arthur Mitchell, Artistic Director Emeritus to inspire a new generation of performing artists. “In Haiti, kids are not encouraged to pursue the arts as a career which to me is very sad, because I believe the country has given birth to so many artistic and creative minds which can be seen in our literature, our food, our music and even the games we played in school during recess,” noted Placide.

When asked about what’s next after this amazing opportunity, Mr. Placide says “his way forward is upward” and hopes his story of persistence and perseverance will serve to inspire even one child or young artist to pursue their passion.

South Florida Caribbean News

The SFLCN.com Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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