Praise Academy of Dance Barbados, for the first time, participated in an international ballet exchange programme and made it to the finals, emerging as one of the top eight performances from a field of twenty-seven (27) dances.
The International Meeting of the Academies for the Teaching Of Ballet and the International Choreography Contest in Cuba, took place from March 27 – April 10 and saw more than 800 dancers from 12 countries participating. Praise Academy’s team of 29 dancers and parents attended under the leadership of founder Marcia Weekes and the advisement of recently contracted Cuban Professor Laura Alvarez Tapanes.
The dancers, ranging in age from five to late teens, were understandably nervous and somewhat timid; they were taught ballet for a number of years but had only started doing the Cuban style of ballet with Professor Alvarez less than a year ago.
Over 15 days, Praise Academy dancers were exposed to dance at another dimension – gruelling and intense classes, with no mercy shown to the newcomers, who arrived in Cuba five days after the conference had started.
Despite this, the dancers were soon being called to the front of the modern classes because of the great potential they showed. They impressed both teachers and judges with their strength and quick adjustment to the dance instruction.
The conference comprised an International Choreography Contest, for which each country had to qualify. Praise Academy entered their modern pieces My World Needs You (choreographed by Terry Hall) and Slavery (choreographed by Shari Pollard and Justin Poleon) from their 2016 show Road To Freedom.
To their amazement and joy, they both qualified and were entered to the semi-finals. Having witnessed the level of professionalism and expertise exhibited by the other countries, Marcia knew she had to work with the dancers if they were to progress to the next level.
In addition to the daily dance classes at The School of Ballet, she had them in constant rehearsal in one of the studios of the Ballet school. The work paid off because Praise Academy was successful in gaining entry into the finals with My World Needs You, choreographed by Terry Hall. The dancers and parents were elated. When it was time for the performance at the finals at the Cuban National Dance Theatre, the team was nervous but ready. They did their absolute best and congratulations were abounding from dancers from various countries.
Represented at the conference were students from Venezuela, Brazil, Dominican Republic, USA, the UK, Ukraine, Spain, France, Puerto Rico, Mexico among others.
A special thank you is in order for the Barbados Embassy at Cuba under the direction of Ambassador Donna Forde for facilitating the entire venture and to the parents who were very supportive of the girls. (PR)