Award-winning choreographer Jeffrey Page is excited to be in Lagos, returning once more to the judging panel for Season 8 of the long running reality television series, Maltina Dance All. At a time when international travellers are postponing visits to the West African sub region, this African-American thinks there is no better time to be in Nigeria. “Nigeria has a magnetic energy that continuously draws me back“, says Page. “As an African American who has been blessed to travel frequently to this pulsating, cultural country, the genetic memory of drumbeats always guides my steps back here.”
Although this may only be his second year on the Maltina Dance All show, Page is no stranger to Lagos or indeed West Africa. As an original cast member of the Tony and ACCA Award-winning Fela! On Broadway musical show, he also travelled on tour with the show to Lagos and remembers this time as an exciting experience in a career devoted to the study of the various dance genres of the West African sub region. Due to his hectic Fela! schedule he felt that he had not been as fully exposed to Nigerian culture as he might have liked. However, he more than made up for it last year on his days off during his first stint on the Maltina Dance All judging panel. As a result, Page indeed found Nigeria to be a fascinating country and it is now high on his list of favourite places to travel.
Page has spent much of the last twenty years travelling in West Africa researching and developing a specialty in West African dance forms. Few choreographers have this level of comprehensive and multi-faceted experience. And it is Page’s authenticity and respect for this ancient and traditional art which has generated praise for his accomplishments with various national dance companies in West Africa, including the Ballet Djoliba, Ballet Africains and Le Ballet National du Senegal.
Page’s expertise in varied West African dance genres afforded him the opportunity to be appointed to serve as an African inspired dance consultant for Cirque du Soleil’s spectacular show ‘O’ where his talents were greatly appreciated and respected by the resident director, Todd Waite, who called Page ‘the consummate professional with great artistry”.
During his time as resident choreographer on the Fox Television reality dance show, So You Think You Can Dance, the presentation of his West African inspired work, ‘Balanta’, performed by the season’s top five men was acclaimed by various online entertainment sites as ‘intricate’, ‘energetic’ and ‘incredibly entertaining’ leading to acknowledged dance authority Debbie Allen praising his work as ‘…so pure and so authentic’.
Page’s proficiency in West African dance forms complements his outstanding capabilities in conventional western dance genres. He received an Emmy Award nomination in “Outstanding Choreography” for the 2005 NAACP Image Awards.In 2011, hereceived the MTV’s 2011 Video Music Award for “Best Choreography” for the video of the Beyoncé Knowles’chart-toppingrelease, “Run The World (Girls)”. For over eight years Page has been and continues to be a member of the multi Grammy award-winning entertainer’s creative team, during which time he has been responsible for developing staged presentations for several of her televised performances and three of her world tours. Currently, Page is also Creative Director for multiple Grammy Award nominated, major label recording artist Jazmine Sullivan, as well as Creative Consultant for Solange Knowles. He continues to work in artist development for new and up and coming talent.
As an honours graduate in Fine Arts in Dance Performance & Theatre from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Jeffrey is a strong believer in capacity building for the next generation of dancers and choreographers. Apart from facilitating several university and college dance workshops and programmes, he has participated in several international dance festivals and conferences. In 2013 he was appointed the Creator and Director of the Movin’ Commercial Dance Intensive for the Jacobs Pillow International Dance Festival, a leading American dance festival.
Page hopes to bring all aspects of his multi layered experience to Nigeria as he regards the work that he does in this country to be as vital as the work he does in the United States and in other parts of the world. He is of the opinion that the inherent abilities and skills in Nigeria are astounding and so brilliantly varied, but as yet these are not fully identified. Therefore, he is planning to become a force in honing and developing this Nigerian talent pool to be exhibited and revered on the world stage. Page emphasizes that he sees a great potential for knowledge sharing and, in a country in which he feels as comfortable as in his own grandmother’s kitchen in rural Kentucky, he believes that he has as much to learn as he has to give.
Subsequently, having just concluded work as the choreographer on the feature film, FREEDOM, produced by Cuba Gooding Jr. as well as successfully creating the choreography for the recent Broadway musical Violet — which garnered the following nominations: 4 Tony Awards, 3 Outer Critic Circle Awards, 3 Drama Desk Awards and 3 Drama League Awards –Jeffrey is enthusiastic to be returning to working on the television show Maltina Dance All.
However, he does concede that there had been a certain amount of apprehension in coming at this time consequent upon the media reports so before embarking upon the trip had several times paused to consider and reflect. However, having overcome the warnings of friends and family at home, he observed upon his arrival in Lagos that the reality was very different from the media portrayal. He visited Freedom Park a few days after his arrival in Lagos, ate his favorite grilled fish, learnt the new shoki and sekem dances with the teenagers in the park and felt any distant concerns melt away.
This, to Page, is an important life lesson on the importance of being more dependent on one’s own life experiences and allowing neither fear nor over-reliance on the opinions of others to move you from your life path. ”My initial trepidation has been dissipated and this has motivated me to explore more and to pay closer attention to the inner whispers,” says Page.
Page looks forward to continuing his journey with Maltina Dance All and is excited by the opportunities he anticipates to meet new people and learn much more about Nigerian culture.
To learn more about Page’s work, please visit WWW.JEFFREYLPAGE.COM and follow him on Twitter @JEFFREYLPAGE.