5 Questions With … Michael Holgate


The Gleaner shares an interview with Jamaican choreographer, singer, actor, dancer, and writer Michael Holgate. Here are excerpts from “5 Questions With … Michael Holgate”:

As a choreographer, singer, actor, dancer, and writer, Michael Holgate epitomises what it means to be a jack of all trades. The award-winning writer wears many hats, including that of artistic director of performing arts group, Ashe. But even as he juggles his countless day jobs, the multitalented individual makes it all look easy, as he executes each task handed to him effortlessly and with poise. Today in Five Questions With …, we get to know Holgate on a more personal level. We will hear what ignited his love for the performing arts, as well as what keeps him going on rough days.

What fuelled your passion for the performing arts?

After joining the Little People and Teen Players Club, where I fell in love with theatre and dance and music, I decided I wanted to learn more about it, and so I took a greater interest. My former artistic director of the Ashe Company, Joseph E. Robinson, inspired me to become a full-time artiste and a choreographer. He firmly believed that there must be a path to careers in the performing arts for Jamaican and Caribbean people with talent. I was further inspired to enter the field of theatre by Cathi Levy and Paulette Bellamy.

You are what people would describe as a jack of all trades. You dance, sing, act, write, choreograph. It may be hard to choose, but which of your talents would you say you hold most dear, and why?

I have been called a polymath, but I am first and foremost, and always will be a writer by nature. Everything comes second to that. Everything I do starts with my writing. I write down my choreography. I write the plays I want to direct, I write my own songs, I write my own screenplays. I could give up anything else for someone else to do, but not my writing. At any point in the day that you catch me, best believe I am working on some piece of writing in my mind. My note and memo pad on my phone is filled with scripts and books and plays I’m working on, as well as jottings for my thesis. The recorder on my phone is filled with songs and half songs. I live to write, and everything else follows.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

People are most surprised to know that I am an introvert. Most people see how I operate in my work and assume that I am extroverted and love being out in public or on a stage. That’s mostly because they misunderstand the meaning behind introversion and extroversion. It’s really just about how we get energy and how we spend energy. I get energy when I am involved in some solo activity or just by myself reflecting, reading, watching TV, writing or songwriting, etc. I spend that energy when I am in a crowd or around people. Truth is, I hate being on stage and don’t like public speaking. I much prefer one-on-one interactions with people. Social distancing has never been a problem for me. My really good friends know this. Ironically, however, I can also be a bit of a workaholic. So when I’m doing work that I love, I hardly even notice that people are around, even when interacting with them. I am still lost in my world. Still introverting. As a result of my career, however, I have learnt how to function in an extroverted career and world. [. . .]

What do you enjoy most about working with young creatives?

I see this as a mentorship question and so, let me express that mentorship is an integral part of what I do. I was mentored by some truly brilliant minds like Joseph E. Robinson, Paulette Bellamy, Cathi Levy, Michael Morrissey, Brian Heap, Trevor Nairne … and I pass on the blessing. When you mentor creatives, not only do you get an opportunity to share, but also to grow. I believe the best way to learn something is to teach it. You are forced to learn more in order to communicate it well. What I enjoy most with working with young creatives is to see the innovations they can bring to the world from their millennial head space in the act of creating art. [. . .]

For full interview, see http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/entertainment/20200320/5-questions-michael-holgate

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