ARTS LEADERS PROFILE: TERRENCE PRIDE, BRÉVO THEATRE
T.M. Pride, Zawadi : The Nativity Story. New ballet by T.M. Pride premiered in December 2022.
(Photo courtesy Trisha Rosales.)
There’s a term in theater, the “inciting incident” which is described as “the moment, event or decision that thrusts the main character in the action of a story.”
Terrence “T.M.” Pride, the producing artistic director of Brévo Theatre and director of dance at Dillard High School for the Performing Arts, said that moment for him was “when my high school dance teacher convinced me to audition for ‘Gypsy’ and I got an actual speaking role.” Originally cast as a dancer, Terrence surpassed expectations and took on the role of Patsey, the stage manager, in the opening act of the play. This experience marked a pivotal point in his journey.
“I was just 15 years old and it was crazy to be cursing on stage and managing the ‘entertainers’ (hookers),” said Pride.
The impact of that experience propelled him towards his current path, and upon his mother’s suggestion, he made the decision to enroll at Florida State University. However, during his time there, one of his professors told Pride that he, “lacked the necessary discipline,” which ultimately led to a decision to drop out. “Perhaps this was because dance, for me, originated from a more emotional place,” said Pride, reflecting that, “the conventional studio dancing did not resonate with me.”
Pride’s passion and purpose go hand in hand with everything he does, and it all goes back to dance. He recalls dancing at Christian church and his frustration with the lack of technique which drove him to develop a nationwide dance conference.
“I first started traveling and working as a choreographer when I was in Tallahassee. I was just 17 years old and a big group came up from Miami along with lots of others and it was a bit overwhelming,” Pride recalled.
That first year he was caught off guard, so for the second conference he enlisted group of friends to help and partnered with the City of Tallahassee. He admits that he learned through a process of trial and error, and he recognizes the significance of asking for help.
Pride eventually returned to school with a renewed mindset and a profound understanding that his passion lies in the performing arts, where he could combine his love for acting and dancing. Although he initially intended to enroll at Howard University, fate led him to Florida A&M University (FAMU) after learning about their exceptional theater program through a friend.
He graduated from FAMU with a Bachelor of Arts in Theater and spent two years as director of Dance and Theater at Apalachee Tapestry Magnet School of the Arts in Tallahassee, FL. He then went on to graduate school, receiving a Masters of Science in Urban Education from Florida International University.
Driven by his ambition, Pride joined Brévo Theatre in 2019 while working at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, where he had ascended to the role of director. Presently, he serves as a teaching artist in their esteemed Art in Wellness Program.
“Through that program at the Arsht, I saw the beautiful opportunity to work with single mothers and their children, working primarily with the kids,” Pride said. “I incorporate acting tools like improv games and mindfulness that allow them freedom of expression.”
Pride engages students in a diverse range of songs, prompting them to express their emotions through visual arts or writing. By fostering a trusting and bonding space, these exercises facilitate the identification of their emotions. Pride expressed gratitude for the opportunity to engage in this impactful work.
The work with Brévo goes on as well. Pride is currently preparing for two ballets that he choreographed. The first is “Emancipation Blues”, debuting in February, which he describes as “a Blues story with dances created around themes of African American civilization including Jim Crow, voting suppression, and the Harlem Renaissance. I wrote the dialogue as poetry and that is how it will be presented.” Pride is also printing a kids’ coloring book that is the actual script of the show and will be featured at the Pompano Beach Library and Cultural Center.
Scheduled for a June premiere, the second production is an intimate portrayal that delves into vulnerability, intimacy, and personal growth for Pride. “It offers an autobiographical perspective on my experiences as a church boy, recounting my encounters with Brandon, a writer I collaborated with during my college years,” described Pride. The piece explores the vulnerabilities shared between men, encapsulating a profound narrative.
Brévo’s Freshly Rooted program was created to provide a platform for local artists. The program aims to support local playwrights and give opportunities to new works and actors. Since its debut in 2022, Freshly Rooted has showcased a controversial play and hosted readings attended by local theater luminaries. This year, they have commissioned a brand new musical called “Me and My Miami,” written and directed by award-winning choreographer Patdro Harris.
They also support emerging artists through their summer conservatory, presented in partnership with Broward College. For the past two years, they have provided headshots, training, and all necessary materials to 40 professional artists. Year-round fundraising efforts are dedicated to the success of the summer conservatory, as it lies at the core of their mission: offering a professional space and nurturing home for local artists.
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