Jamal: Barbados Dance Project
I am still trying to find words to best articulate just how fantastic my summer was. As many may or may not know, during the 13/14 season, I founded the Barbados Dance Project, which aims to cultivate and support young artists in Barbados by working with international and local dance teachers to spread the joy of dance. Through Kickstarter, I was successfully able to fund the project for its first season, July 27th-August 10th. On my journey home to Barbados, I brought along company dancer Min-Tzu (Mia) Li, and former company dancer Vanessa Valecillos to offer FREE dance classes to all levels.
Seeing over 60 participants of the project take in what Mia and Vanessa shared was remarkable. On the last day of the program we held an in-studio showing. We anticipated 50 people at most to come witness what we were doing, only to have over 75 people sitting and standing in amazement of the dancers from their home. It is exactly what I wanted to happen. I want Barbados to acknowledge the immense dance talent that is present on their small island. I cannot thank everyone enough who helped this dream come true.
As the project was happening, I also got the opportunity to see family and friends. I drove for the first time in Barbados. On my island, they drive on the left side of the road. It took a few days do adjust, but a great experience none the less. I also got to play mask on Kadooment Day during the Crop Over festival. Crop Over is a two-month long festival in Barbados that celebrates the heritage of the rich culture of the island. Kadooment Day, similar to Carnival in Brazil, is the day where people take to the streets wearing bright-colored costumes with lots of beads, feathers, and even body paint. The route goes on for about six miles of pure fun while listening to music and “wuking-up” (a dance any “Bajan” will know). I even spotted Vanessa and Mia along with my family on the road.
For more photos and video clips, find us on Facebook.
-Jamal Rashann Callender