SLJAF…Beyond The News Soundbite.
WHEN the legacy of dance pioneer, the late Julienne Virginia Alexander, is celebrated as the second edition of the Cultural Icon Series at the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival, capacity building will have been in-built through the efforts of the Cultural Development Foundation to buttress the dance edifice lovingly erected by this icon and her peers of the day.
Alexander’s contribution remains undoubtedly a cornerstone of Saint Lucia’s thriving dance sector, with many who have passed through her Les Enfants Dance Company currently carrying the torch as troupe leaders, choreographers and performers at home and abroad. “Aunty Virgie”, along with the array of musicians and dedicated production crew that made up the Les Enfants ‘community’ was the veritable ‘village’ that raised the second generation of dancers who are commanding the dance landscape of North America, the Caribbean and England, with the Les Enfants torch held high.
Four such artists are Darcel Frederick Osei, dancer in Disney’s “Lion King” (UK ensemble) since 201; MicoleAubertin, a former choreographer, artistic director and producer with Les Enfants; Shakeena President-Beckford, Assistant Artistic Director of Chicago’s Nunufatima dance company, and Tania Isaac, Assistant Teaching Professor at Drexel University, a Pew Fellow (2011) and a MacDowell Fellow (2012).
With the exception of Frederick Osei whose work commitments only permit her participation via video, all are in preparation mode to facilitate dance master classes while here. Their workshop, which targets school-based dance students, will run from April 27 – 29, under the theme “Life as a professional dancer- Making dance a career”.
A second intensive week of dance workshops for Theatre Arts/Dance students, Theatre arts Teachers with an interest in dance/movement and local dancers will run from April 25- May 1. Four European-based working professional dancers and teachers will facilitate these sessions, which aim to impart on dance technique with a focus on Contemporary, Jazz, Commercial dance (a mixture Hip Hop, Vogue, Waacking) and Floor work. Participants will also be exposed to techniques for improvisation, choreography, and performance. All dance workshops will take place at the National Cultural Centre. Additionally, the European tutoring team will visit schools Island-wide.
MEET THE DANCE INSTRUCTORS
Tania Isaac is a dancer, choreographer and video artiste, whose dance education and training was acquired with the Les Enfant Dance Company (Saint Lucia), the Alvin Alley American Dance Centre (Modern Dance and Ballet), University of Wisconsin (BA, Dance) and Temple University, Philadelphia (MA, Fine Arts, Dance). She has a keen interest in movement as both art and a science which she continuously explores. Tania fuses choreography with personal documentary highlighting social commentary that grapples with identity, post-colonial issues, feminism and juxtapositions of European and African influences.
Saint Lucian-born, US-based Shakeena President-Beckford has been dancing since the age of 4. Shakeena has performed throughout the Caribbean and the United States and has studied ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop and west African dance. She holds a Bachelor’s Dance degree from Barat College. Shakeena works as a professional dancer and Assistant Artistic Director/choreographer of Nunufatima Dance Company and Spiritual Expressions Praise dance.
Micole Aubertin Murray began dancing at a young age with Les Enfants Dance Company, where she would evolve from dancer, to choreographer, artistic director and producer. In these latter roles, she discovered her natural ability to bring people together to make art happen. A Hunter College graduate, 2004, Cum Laude, Micole is now based in New York City where she produces for NYFEST an annual film/soccer festival, for Braveman Media and works with her husband Malcolm C Murray producing films and photography.
Born and raised in Saint Lucia Kiraly Saint Claire’s journey through the art world has been informed by his exposure to a mix of cultures in his career in Europe, the Caribbean and India, infusing life’s narratives into his creative work.
Naomi Deira is emerging as a choreographer with great potential. She was born and raised in Holland and her development as a performer as well as a creative director has elevated her skill set to a level that has warranted collaborations with some of the best artists within the industry.
Hannah Anderson Ricketts’ work captures a diverse selection of dance styles and artistic forms with the aim of creating an inquisitive and provoking movement landscape in response to questioning our current state of humanity. Ricketts has worked in performance, choreography and dance film for eight years and is the co-director of Dance Film Festival UK along with Anna-Lise Hearn.
Jamaican born Anna-Kay Gayle, having trained at the London Contemporary dance school, has developed her skills working in theatre productions as well as music videos as a model, dancer and choreographer. Her style is an eclectic mix merging classical contemporary with dancehall, vogue, house and jazz.