Arts

Legacy: The Story of The Barbados Dance Project Part 2

BDP and the NCF Dance Desk 2014/2015

Barbados Dance Project, founder, international professional dancer Jamal Callender performed with Ballet Hispanico (BH) in his early years while travelling to Barbados to see his family and train Barbadian dancers. 


Initially, Callender planned to create a 10-day training intensive with an in-house performance showcase, exposing nationals to trained professionals now dancing with internationally acclaimed dance companies. In his first year he invited BH colleagues Ming Tzu Li “Mia” (Taiwan) and Vanessa Valecillos (Venezuela). Juilliard Alum Janelle Headley (Barbados) was here on holiday from Germany at the time so she visited as well. 

Callender had the audacity to think that we could raise the money through crowdfunding to offer free tuition to deserving students. Every moment spent not physically dancing or rehearsing Jamal would be driving online traffic to his kickstarter campaign. He asked me to join him on the project as general manager. I sucked in my pride and “begged” and “nagged” as well. Low and behold generous goodwill of 184 individuals came through and our first 10-day summer intensive was fully supported and off we went.

The aim: seeing more Barbadian talent on an international level offering free dance classes, and workshops to eliminate the financial obstacles to achieving professional status. Jamal and I were recipients of the generosity of generations before and we wanted to give forward. So “reduction in funding” would not be an excuse for “a dream to die”.

In August 2014, Callender and his colleagues taught a 10- dance intensive for 15 or so students, each admitted into the programme received full scholarship. Sessions were held at the studios of the Barbados Dance Theatre Co. at Erin Hall, Lower Collymore Rock, St. Michael and at the Rex Nettleford Complex Dance Studio at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, where our first showcase was held as well.

The experience was a huge success. Technique and contemporary classes gave way to intense choreographic processes. The talented performers showed that measuring up to 6-hour days catapulted their artistic execution, expression, and interpretation. 

This seemed to catapult a new drive of creativity and commitment for NIFCA 2014. Then in 2015, teachers in Barbados who joined me at NCFDDSIP to train and create work included Tara Jane Herbert Dawn Lisa Smith, Geraldine Lynch, Jerilee Evanson, Mary Waithe among others making contributions toward the success of the NCF Dance Desk Programming.

That same year Callender went to kickstarter again, this time convincing 100 people to buy into the project. Along with Mia Callender brought his Juillard besties Chanel Da Silva and Nigel Campbell. The venues agreed to host and then we were fortunate to showcase at the Frank Collymore Hall. BDP used this opportunity to invite dance academies and BCC portfolio graduates to participate, as well as showcase choreographies the NCF Dance Ensemble’s work for 2015,  Tara-Jane Herbert’s Scarlet Renaissance and John Hunte’s Paradise Animated.

That same year Callender went to kickstarter again, this time convincing 100 people to buy into the project. Along with Mia Callender brought his Juillard besties Chanel Da Silva and Nigel Campbell. The venues agreed to host and then we were fortunate to showcase at the Frank Collymore Hall. BDP used this opportunity to invite dance academies and BCC portfolio graduates to participate, as well as showcase choreographies the NCF Dance Ensemble’s work for 2015,  Tara-Jane Herbert’s Scarlet Renaissance and John Hunte’s Paradise Animated.

Paradise Animated
Choreographer: John Hunte
Music: Minuano by Pat Metheny
Dancers: Jelani Bryce, Carolyn Barker, Shaneanoh Carter, Mahalia Cummins, Remington Forde, Makeda Lowe, Stacey Johnson, Tuesdai Pounder, Jared Simmons, Guy Smith, Courtenay Thorne

Scarlet Renaissance
Choreography: Tara-Jane Herbert
Dancers: Rene Blackman, Jelani Bryce, Carolyn Barker, Shaneanoh Carter, Mahalia Cummins, Makeda Lowe, Stacey Johnson, Tuesdai Pounder, Jared Simmons, Guy Smith,
Courtenay Thorne, Shameka Walters

Next – Part 3: Building on the pillars of BDP. Check out Part 1 here

Legacy: The Story of The Barbados Dance Project is a sub column crafted by Dr. John Hunte, PhD, Executive Director, BPD Inc. Photo credit by Adrian Richards

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