Montano making waves in dance and choreography in Tobago

Encore Dance Theatre's managing and creative director Tyrese Montano.  - Photo by Visual Styles
Encore Dance Theatre's managing and creative director Tyrese Montano. - Photo by Visual Styles

AT JUST 22, Tyrese Montano is already making a name for himself in the spheres of dance and choreography in Tobago.

He is the managing and creative director of the Encore Dance Theatre, which was established two years ago in his hometown of Pembroke, the island’s cultural capital.

Montano admits he is not certified as a dancer but has been a practitioner for over 18 years.

“I am certified by experience,” he told Newsday.

Montano said the Encore Dance Theatre allowed him to step out of his comfort zone.

“I made the decision within myself to start a group and I just reached out to people that I knew. I always had a passion for creating, choreographing and dance.

“But being the leader of group was never really a part of the dreams and aspirations that I had, although it was along the same career path. I never really had that aligned with anything. So I kind of shocked myself when I made the decision to do so.”

He said his dream is to become “an astounding creative director in the performing arts sphere, one that choreographs and provides creation direction services.”

The dance theatre, which performs a variety of genres, currently has about 20 members, ranging in age 11-22. But from September there are plans to introduce children from as young as eight years old to the group.

The group rehearses at the Tobago Dance Studio in Bacolet.

Raised in a cultural family, Montano said his involvement in the performing arts seemed predestined.

“It was not much of a choice for me. The only thing I was unsure about was when I would start because I was coming out of a family, though they may not all be dancers, they have something to do with the creative arts industry.”

He recalled that at a very young age, his love for dance caught the attention of his neighbour, Elvis Radgman, who, at that time, was the leader of a group called the Urban Rituals Dance Company. Radgman is also a well-known cultural advocate and the former CEO of the Tobago Performing Arts Company (TPAC).

Montano recalled, “I was about six and I was on the van back of a truck with Elvis Radgman living above us. He was looking down at me and I was dancing. The van was also my space where I would have explored movement because I wasn’t really allowed to dance like that much. I did not have a place to run to yet so I used to do it on the back of my family’s truck.”

He said he stopped dancing when he realised that Radgman was looking at him.

But days later, Montano said, Radgman took him to his first session with the Urban Ritual Dance Company.

“That was where I started my dance journey. I always give him (Radgman) the credit for discovering me as a creative, a dancer, because he was the first one that gave me an opportunity to grow in the space.”

He said fellow dancers Shakeil Jones and Darcelle Kirk are also responsible for the success he has achieved so far.

From Urban Rituals, Montano went on to perform with the Pembroke Folk and Cultural Movement and the Zante Dance Company, where he ventured away from traditional African dance and explored contemporary genres.

“I grew up as a folk dancer but with Zante, I got the opportunity and authority to create and venture into genres that are not familiar to Tobago, like Afrobeat and hip hop.”

Since its launch on January 20, 2022, the Encore Dance Theatre has formed alliances with various artistes within the country’s cultural and entertainment fraternity.

During its first month in existence, Montano said the group collaborated with soca artiste Erphaan Alves for his EDay concert, which is usually held at Bar Hop-In, Shirvan Road.

After that, the theatre began performing at hotels, with its most prominent offering being the Flaming Limbo Experience.

“It’s just a limbo dance, technically, with fire and the passing of the bar. In the end, the audience usually gets to interact with the dancers and immerse themselves in the limbo experience.

The former Speyside High School student, who is also a dancer with the TPAC, said the theatre also distinguished itself in the Best Village competition later in the year.

“On entering the preliminary round, we won two categories and for a first-time entrant, it was kind of shocking to me and my group. So that motivated us more to follow through and continue pushing.”

The group went on to the finals and won the limbo category. They also placed second in the African influence category.

For the inaugural October Carnival in 2022, the dace theatre also collaborated with the mas band, Zain and soca artiste Voice (Aaron St Louis) for his all-white party. They also joined forces with Preedy (Akeem Chance) for Bago Jam, which was hosted by the TPAC.

Montano said he did not host a major concert at the end of the theatre’s first year in operation but opted instead for an awards ceremony where he commended his dancers for their diligence and commitment.

He said the group continues to place heavy emphasis on the Best Village competition and will accept gigs at hotels and entertainment spots only when the event is over.

Montano, who turns 23 on July 25, is excited about his theatre’s preparations for Bloom: The Beginning.

“I am not dropping any specific details on it. But it is a concert I intend to host in April 2025. It is going to be Encore’s story to show that we are blooming, growing, developing.”


"Montano making waves in dance and choreography in Tobago"

More in this section