Jamaica’s Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts is the premier tertiary arts educational institution in the English-speaking Caribbean. The College– named after Jamaica’s foremost national visual artist and cultural icon–is the first of its kind within the Caribbean to provide technical training in the arts, offering qualifications at the Masters, Bachelors, Diploma and Certificate levels through its six schools— Visual Arts; Drama; Dance; Music ; Arts Management and Humanities; and Continuing Education and allied programmes.
Last Saturday— the 17th of November — the nation of Barbados literally took the spotlight at the 2012 Graduation Ceremony of the Edna Manley College, which was held at the auditorium of the Little Theatre in Kingston, through the exploits and achievements of the young Barbadian dancer and choreographer, Aisha Dayo Comissiong.
Comissiong was simply the most outstanding student of the 2012 graduating class! Not only did she graduate with a First Class honours Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance and Choreography, but she had the distinction of achieving the highest Grade Point Average in the entire College, an achievement that led to her being selected as the Valedictorian who spoke on behalf of the entire graduating class. This was indeed a signal achievement for a Barbadian student at Jamaica’s pre-eminent national arts institution!
In addition to these achievements, she was the recipient of no less than five individual awards at the Graduation Ceremony. These were as follows:–
1. The Rex Nettleford Award for Outstanding Performance and Choreography;
2. The Bert Rose Award fot the Most Outstanding Performer;
3. The School of Dance Award for All Round Excellence;
4. The Best Research Award;
5. The Principal’s Award for Most Outstanding Student in the Schools of the Performing Arts.
In the Graduation booklet, the Faculty of the College explained the reasons for Comissiong’s phenomenal success when they described her as follows:–
“Words like over-achiever, hard worker, focussed, passionate, and leader are all typically used to describe the young Barbadian Aisha Dayo Comissiong. The Dance Major challenged herself to complete the four year Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance and Choreography programme in three years, and not only did so successfully but now graduates top of her class.
At the age of 22,Comissiong has already outlined her purpose in life,which is to become the Rex Nettleford, Ivy Baxter, Beryl Mc Burnie , Dr. L’Antoinette Stines, and Pearl Primus of Barbados. Her fundamental career goal is to play a similarly significant role in taking Dance in Barbados to unprecedented levels and to secure international recognition for Barbadian dance forms and dancers, whilst contributing to the fostering of a Caribbean dance movemrnt.
The young visionary has already started to make purposeful steps towards her dream. In 2011, she became the recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Scholarship in Barbados, as well as the two time gold award winner for her choreography in both the 2011 and 2012 National Independence Festival of Creative Arts. Since completing her degree, Comissiong continues to pursue her dance studies in Jamaica as a company member of the highly acclaimed L’Acadco: A United Caribbean Dance Force under the artistic directorship of the internationally acclaimed Dr. L’Antoinette Stines.”