OUR CARIBBEAN SPIRIT: The Dancers

Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE is excited to announce the
“Our Caribbean Spirit,” performers!!

Alexandra Jean-Joseph
Ilana ‘ILLY’ Warner
Indira Warner
Clara Auguste
Dionisia Rigby
Akilah Pascal
Natasha “Ivory” Markwick

WHAT DOES OUR CARIBBEAN SPIRIT MEAN TO YOU?

“Our Caribbean Spirit,” is the signature piece for this year’s Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE New Traditions Festival held on June 16-18th, 2017 at Mark Morris Dance Center.  This project, currently in residency at Brooklyn Studios for Dance, explores how the movement from various island cultures tells the story of our resilience and exuberance.  The aim of the dance portion of this project, was to unite dancers of or trained in, Caribbean traditions in NYC, across the varied styles and island backgrounds. In March, Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE had an audition where 7 dancers were invited to participate in this collaborative experience.

These dancers along with DCC founder Candace Thompson, met twice a week – yanvalouing into a creative process that uplifted and interwove their embodied and collective knowledge. Movement and storytelling combined, they are creating a work that is reflective yet future bound – hence deeply rooted in a sankofic legacy. YES! With a wicked  wine of the hips, a chip of the foot, they step in between time. These performers, fiercely committed, share a common love, and passion of Caribbean dance layered with their own personal stories that make this process magical.

During one of the rehearsals we were able to sit down with the dancers and ask them about their creative experience:

Dancer, Claire Auguste from Haiti and raised in Miami, began talking about the choreographic process. She states, “I really learned about connectivity… I really appreciate that she (Candace) took something from each of us.  It was not like we were shape shifting to be what the choreographer wanted us to be, but she was kind of shifting with us and in between, [that] there was a connectivity that we met in the middle. A form of exchange. We were not losing our identity, we were gaining. This process allowed us to add to our own identities.”

Dancer, Natasha, mentions, “the fact that we were able to tell our own stories and movement and teach each other a little about each other’s culture created    unity between us, really surprised me.” Dionisia with roots in Panama, believes that this process has given her a “ sense of empowerment, not only are we able to tell our own stories. Being that this movement is very natural to me, I guess this is the first time on stage I get to be proud of where I come from and where my roots are.”

“ Connectiveness. Roots. Open Mindedness. Unity. Spiritual. Feeling.”

Dancer, Indira Warner admits, “I came into the process thinking that we were just going to be taught African caribbean movement. I did not expect us to each give a piece of ourselves; but what I did take from this is unity. This process allowed me to take advantage of my African and Caribbean culture all together, this was the first time I was able to do that and be with other dancers who understand my cultural background and my upbringing.”

From dancer, Alexander Jean-Joseph, “In recent years I have been trying to connect back to my culture and dance has allowed me to do that. My background is entirely in Haitian folklore. At first this was intimidating for me. This process has taught me to take a chance. From the beginning the space was always a safe space.”

DCC director Candace Thompson says, “ I come into rehearsal and let the moving bodies inspire me. I have been planning for this piece since last September and so I am giving myself the space to rely on that prep work while also honoring the dancers who bring their own knowledge, stories and movement.”

The group is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to share this work with the audience. Come see this heart-warming piece at Mark Morris Dance Center. Read about our other research on the Our Caribbean Spirit Blog and we invite you to purchase tickets to the show. It’s not everyday we are able to congregate in the name of togetherness.

 

Written by Brittany Williams
Edited by Candace Thompson
With special thanks to Brooklyn Studios for Dance
ABOUT THE OUR CARIBBEAN SPIRIT PROJECT
A published interview series, video documentation and a collaborative dance process, the conversation continues through live performance at the New Traditions Festival 2017, June 16-18.
Get tickets for New Traditions Festival HERE.

 

 

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