by Kimberley Cummins
One of the most delightful things in the world to see is the face of a proud parent.
Proud that the children they nurtured and supported have achieved all of their dreams.
Although 16 years old Johari Uchéchi Taitt’s journey to reach all her goals is still in progress, and as the Bajan Vibes team sat to talk to her this morning at her Welches, St. Thomas home one could not help but to notice the pride and joy written on her mother, Juliana’s, face.
Conceding her happiness, the mother of two other equally talented children 12–year–old Zindzele and Kaiross, seven, noted her satisfaction was not for Johari alone but for all young people who were connecting with what they felt they were born to do.
“Pursuing it and really finding their place … being fearless about going after their goals – that is exciting for me,” she said as she smiled with her eyes staunchly placed on her daughter.
After hearing of Johari’s successes thus far and at such a young age, it was a surprise, even if only to the team, that Juliana wasn’t running around shouting from the mountain top, so to speak, about them.
Not many sixth formers in Barbados can boast of a four page résumé, however, this Queen’s College student can. She is currently pursuing Law, Economics and Sociology at CAPE and she already has eight CXC certificates. She has earned distinctions in dance from the UK Royal Academy of Dance, entered many singing competitions including the NIFCA and won many awards.
In her first year competing in the Junior Monarch contest she won with Yes We Can which was written by John King. She has attended workshops in the United States and Canada, trained with the Louise Woodvine Dance Academy, Praise Academy of Dance Barbados and Live The Music Breathe The Music Academy. The youngster has been in countless productions; was a featured vocalist at this year’s International Diaspora Arts Festival and in 2012, she sang and recorded the theme song for the movie Chrissy.
In just a few years this young girl has done a lot and she is about to embark on another path.
In January she auditioned and was accepted to the Interlocken Centre For The Arts in Michigan where she is set to begin studies in September for the next two years.
Interlocken is said to be one of the top dance centres in the US, this year three of their students were admitted into the Juilliard School, which only accepts 12 dancers a year. Tuition will cost US$50,000 a year, but the school awarded her a partial scholarship so on August 11 she will hold a fund–raising event to help raise the difference.
Johari’s pursuits in dance, and art on the whole, did not just begin. In fact, her mother confirmed she has always been very “artsy”. She recalled when the petite teen was a toddler every Saturday she would dress up, at one point her grandmother made her a little pink skirt, then she would turn on the radio loudly and dance for hours.
Juliana added: “She would be jumping, leaping, running and twisting so we thought ‘Okay this girl loves to dance, let’s just find a dance class to put her in’ and she just went from there… it wasn’t something that was forced– it was natural. Then after, she sang Away In A Manger for Pearson Bowen [on his radio show] and we realised ‘Johari could sing’.”
“I got put into dance classes [at the Praise Academy] when I was really young and then I started ballet at Louise Woodvine when I was five or six and it was just a place to escape. I just feel the need to do dance… when you dance, you feel graceful and beautiful and like everything is just calm and peaceful. Then when you are on stage everything is just a rush, everybody looking at you, and you have something to share. So it is just… exciting,” said Johari as she smiled broadly.
Though young Taitt is very much interested in all forms of the arts, as she is still undertaking vocal lessons with coach Janelle Headley–Newton, her focus now is primarily dance.
The commencement of her dreams, especially as she prepares to travel overseas in pursuit, may be intimidating for many but she said she is focussed and ready.
”My future is looking pretty good, I’m going to school in September and it should be pretty interesting. The school is amazing, it has really great success. I don’t think I am as a nervous as I would have been about a year ago. I want to dance and because I want to get into music and art I’m not too worried because it is what I want to do. To get where I want to go it is something I have to do,” Johari said.
A one time visual artist also, she wants to be a performing artist. When she is finished, her goal is to return to the island and open a performing arts school. It would not only cater to music, dance and acting but also other arts like sound technology and photography. Later, when all her options in arts are exhausted she would like to pursue performance psychology. [email protected]