From an early age, Aisha Comissiong was told she had the legs of a dancer. The statement was made by Carolyn Barrow, the wife of Errol Barrow, the Father of Independence. She met the tiny tot at an art
exhibition with her father, lawyer and noted socialist David Comissiong.
Taking the advice of the island’s ‘First Lady’, Aisha’s father promptly enrolled her in dance classes.
Aisha is now the Creative/Artistic Director and co-manager of the local dance collective known as Riddim Tribe. Her passion for the art form has also taken her to Trinidad, Jamaica, Suriname, Haiti and even The Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C.
Describing dance as the love of her life is an understatement. Her life is centred around the discipline. After starting to master it from the age of six, she is now specialized in over six genres.
“Dance has become my everything and an integral part of who I am. I’m not exactly sure how to describe it but nothing has ever quite compared to that feeling I get when I step on a stage—that performance high, that visceral feeling that only happens in that exact moment and is different every single time you put yourself out there on stage. I live for that!” Aisha told Barbados TODAY.
A former student of the Charles F Broome Memorial Primary School and Harrison College, she has also attended the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts. She was also a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Scholarship in 2011.
Despite facing numerous ups and downs, such as injuries throughout her career, Aisha has remained committed to her calling.
“My journey has been filled with highs, lows, and many an obstacle and yet I’m still here.
My investment in the art form on all levels and in spite of anything that has stood in my way I think proved to me this is exactly where I need to and want to be. So I try not to let any disappointments deter me and instead find ways to continue pursuing the art form I’m so passionate about,” she said.
“It [dance] has instilled a need for excellence in anything I endeavour to do.”
Her discipline, resilience, and ambitious nature are reflective of the values imparted by her parents who have been her strongest supporters and believers.
“My parents, David and Sally Comissiong, have gone above and beyond to allow me to pursue something that many would say or have said I’m wasting my time on. They have truly been my rock and they are both great role models to boot. Both are fearless in the pursuit of anything they set their minds to,” Aisha said.
Although her life revolves around dance, Aisha revealed that her alternative career option would have been to become a singer, professional athlete or physiotherapist. She disclosed that there were plenty times when she questioned her decision to follow the non-traditional route of a career in the arts, but her definition of success has evolved over the years.
“It gets difficult trying not to compare your journey to others who have taken a more traditional route. Life seems easier, more structured,
planned and the road to success seems somewhat more methodical,” she said.
“Every time I feel like that possibility [of not dancing] has loomed on my horizon I’ve literally broken down crying—you know the very messy kind too! I honestly could not imagine my life separate from dance.”
As the theme for International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress, Aisha expressed that she hoped to see more investment in Barbadian dancers and choreographers.
“I look forward to us valuing and trusting our Barbadian dancers, choreographers, styles, and techniques, and as a result an investment being made into the designation of a performance space where we can witness this all year round,” she said.
“The theme this year resonates for me significantly on a very personal level. I’ve been dealing with my own setbacks for the past year and a half but until I changed my mindset I wasn’t getting anywhere. When I let go of the idea of perfection or a perfect end-product and decided to just make progress, even if it came in baby steps, things began to happen and change.
Therefore, I believe it is a quite fitting theme this year for International Women’s Day, especially in light of all the steps – both big and small – that have been made in the past few years toward gender equality,” Aisha added.