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Celebration dance takes to the stage this month

Cayman Conversation 18 May, 2023 Follow News

Celebration dance takes to the stage this month

The Cayman Islands National Dance Company Artistic Director Jessica Eden and Ica Eden-Martin, the Company’s Assistant Artistic Director/choreographer/teacher spoke with Caymanian Times Publisher Ralph Lewis about their exciting new show to take the stage this month for their 35th anniversary.

Jessica was a founding member of the Company since its inception in 1988, having taken up the post of Artistic Director in 2019 after Founder and Director Lorna Reid stepped back, and has been Lorna’s right-hand person ever since. Jessica has been able to continue doing Lorna’s work, having once been the student and then becoming the teacher.

“I’m continuing her vision and allowing dance to continue on the island and allow its development,” Jessica confirmed. “Through what we do, we have helped dancers to build their confidence and what they can do and actually branch off and try other stuff. We are all about sharing, development and enhancement.”

New show

A brand-new show celebrating the Company’s 35th anniversary will take place from 19th to 21st May at the Harquail Theatre, featuring a special dance which, in itself, is comprised of five dances with five costume changes.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to use original costumes as far as possible,” Jessica stated. “I’m excited to see how this unfolds on stage because it’s the first time we’re doing it. We’ve created many styles of dance and this particular one is a teaser of abstract pieces. Our choreographers have created some really in-depth dances. We’ve portrayed different aspects of what might be experiences within our society and within our lives and brought it to the stage.”

Eleven Company members will be participating plus another 12 apprentice dancers. Company members are 17 years old and upwards to 40 plus, while apprentice dancers are ages from 12 to 16.

Benefits of dance

Ica said dancing was important for the community.

“There’s self awareness in dance,” she stated. “You can express yourself in many ways, in many genres. You don’t even need music to dance, the music is in your head. You can use cultural pieces, preserve the culture of Cayman. We have the quadrille, the junkanoo, we can teach our young ones what they didn’t know before.”

Dance was also a great way to keep fit, she confirmed.

“You jump, run, split; it’s good for bones,” she said. “I use it as a way of getting free of all my daily stuff,”

Jessica said dance was something that allows people to keep balanced.

“It definitely helps with mental health, for our well-being,” she stated. “For younger dancers, it helps them to keep focused and build confidence, because, as you get into it, we are so determined to better ourselves…It allows each dancer to have that self determination and to say: I can aim higher than where I was yesterday. The stars are the limits.”

The Cayman Islands National Dance Company has travelled the world bringing its own style and culture to others, having travelled to Holland, Trinidad, St Kitts & Nevis, The Bahamas, the US and the Sister Islands.

“We have extended and shared what Cayman has to offer in the sense of the arts,” Jessica said. “Dance, in itself, is not just entertainment, it’s an art form which brings insight into issues, insight into what might be happening around. It’s a deep art form.”

Ica said it also allowed the individual to develop discipline and other positive characteristics, such as being punctual, having good grooming, being well-mannered, developing the ability to respect the space, and having good posture.

“It’s something you carry with you everywhere,” she said.  

Jessica said that while dance was excellent for everyone, she conceded not too many Caribbean men, especially Cayman men, would want to do dance, however she said it allowed their flexibility to increase, especially footballers, and it helped with endurance.

“Dance is for anyone and at any age,” she confirmed.

Show details

The anniversary show starts on Friday 19th May with the gala night (CI$75) when they will be recognising their sponsors who helped to make it possible. They will also be providing a history of what the Company has been doing over the years and they will showcase some of the dance pieces. Attendees can expect half of the full show, along with these other perks. On the morning of Saturday 20th May they will have a matinee (CI$10) for children. That Saturday night will be the full 2-hour show (CI$35), followed by the same show on Sunday (also CI$35).

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