By Janine Charles-Farray
Over the last weekend, the Caribbean School of Dancing easily re-asserted its claim as the home of Caribbean ballet with an anniversary celebration entitled, ‘Fantasy in Dance’. Over four nights at the Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts) Auditorium at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), young dancers across the entire 400-plus-member school body were featured in four mini dance recitals, ‘The Enchanted Forest’, ‘Moana’, ‘Christmas Delights’ and ‘Island in the sun’.
On Friday 26th October 2018, each piece debuted had its highlights. The first was an adorable adventure of Yelena Robinson as ‘the Enchanted Girl’ led by Sydney Christopher – a precocious parrot to dance through a discovery of a troop of monkeys, a flock of flamingoes and a swarm of fireflies, all played by the tiny tots of the school in the Enchanted Forest.
The second piece was a dance retelling of excerpts from the 2016 animated film ‘Moana’, ably carried by promising principle dancer Isabelle Julien. Then there was ‘Christmas Delights’ which featured in part, a well-executed, Fosse-inspired choreography by Gillian Merry along with a beautiful duet by Anna Maria de Freitas and Anaïs Hinds.
Along with 60 years of excellence, the school also celebrated the appointment of its newest Principal, Bridgette Wilson.
Wilson’s journey with the Caribbean School of Dancing began as a child under the direction of former Principal Joanne Decle. She began choreographing in 2005 while attending York University as part of her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. Over the years her work has been choreographed for Metamorphosis Dance Company (the dance company associated with the Caribbean School of Dancing) through her work with the company as Rehearsal Director and Resident Choreographer. In 2012 she choreographed her first children’s ballet as a part of Caribbean School of Dancing’s school show and did the same for the school’s 2015 production.
For ‘Fantasy in Dance’ Wilson brought the idyllic simplicities of Trinbagonian life in her mini ballet debut of ‘Island In the Sun’. The dance included a lone, flitting promenade of a Hummingbird danced en pointe by Kelsey Parsons, a sprawling landscape of dancing yellow Poui trees in the Savannah with a sky full of Easter kites and a swampy green haven for endangered but beautifully danced scarlet ibis by the quartet of Dominique Bones, Anna Maria de Freitas, Samantha Fletcher and Anaïs Hinds.
Island in the sun hit all the right notes. Every detail from choice of costuming, music and lighting fused to immerse the audience fully into the experience. The choreography was sensitive to the dancers portraying each of the roles, creating a perfect balance of characterization for the younger Kite Flyers, alongside the more experienced ballerinas.
With fantastic costuming by Ronald Guy James, the traditional ballet tutu was transformed into bright yellow poui, tangled green and cream mangrove roots and the signature red feathered plumes of scarlet Ibis. A wash of cool Caribbean garden greens with rosette embellishments were added to the ballet silhouette for a stroll through the botanic gardens with greens pinks, oranges. It was a feast for the eyes…and ears! A seamless local music selection was curated to fill the space with all the sensitive shifts of mood and energy to accompany the telling of the story as the dance unfolded.
Island in the sun was an impressive finale on a strong presentation of dance and choreography from the Caribbean School of Dance, which has, on this celebration of 60 years in the business, cemented its position as a force to be reckoned with in Caribbean dance.