I recently came back from Caracas – Venezuela, where I was leading an intensive week of Dancehall Theatre workshops.
The project was organised and set up by the British Council, and initiated by a young Venezualian university student Kimberley Tarache.
I had the priviledge and honour to work alongside two Jamaican icons: Orville Hall (Dancehall choreographer, lecturer, performer, playwright) and Dr Donna Hope (UWI).
About 100 dancers attended the workshops and lectures during that week. The dancers were so hungry for knowledge and training, they travelled from all over Venezuela to Caracas to attend the training program.
It was a very emotional experience. The exchanges were rich, socially, intellectually and artistically. We all created a strong bond and many friendships. The sense of family and brother/sisterhood made the thought of travelling back each day a little bit harder.
I have a 1000 things to say about my experiences in Venezuela, and I am still dreaming and refecting about 1000 others.
For the time being, I am posting a few pictures of this beautiful trip which has left a print in my heart:
The Dancehall LAB only kicked off in January 2015 and we are excited to announce our 3rd International Collabo Class of the year (with more to come!)
International Afrobeats & Dancehall Collabo Class
Thurs 7th May, 7.30-9pm
with Esie Mensah (Canada) and Cindy Claes (UK)
Here are a few videos from Esie’s work, join us for a unique training opportunity!
Dancehall lovers, Afrobeats lovers, African dance lovers, and dance students… the MAY schedule is out!
The Dancehall LAB hosts a collabo class EVERY WEEK of the month! Including two international collabo classes!!
From Dancehall & Body percussion to Afrobeats mix & Dancehall, you will be spoiled in training opportunities!
Join me for me TUE, WED or THURS class:
You want to learn more about Dancehall culture, it’s history and steps?
The month of April is giving dancehall enthusiasts an opportunity to train and develop their skills with a variety of teachers!
Classes are on every:
TUE 6-7.30pm at Studio68 (Southwark tube)
WED 8.30-10pm at Maryland Studioz (Stratford tube)
THURS 7.30-9pm at iAstudios (Oval tube)
In April, Cindy will be teaching two special Back To Old school sessions. We also have special guest teachers such as Judith Palmer, Shelaine and international guest Vendela Blackout from Sweden / NYC.
Each class will be an incredible opportunity for students to understand Dancehall at a deeper level, experience a variety of teaching methods and expand their knowledge of dances of the african diaspora.
All dancehall classes are drop-ins and welcome all levels!
Vendela goes to Jamaica on a regular basis to train, perform and shoot music videos. Her experience of the Dancehall scene is pure, authentic and full of passion for the culture. We are excited to have her at Badda Beats Thursdayz!
Shelaine is a Queen and she “bruk out”!!!!!! When she see Shelain in action inna di Dancehall, you just step aside! Be ready for rather crazy a Female Steps Only collabo class!!!
Judith is from Jamaican heritage, and has studied African & Caribbean dance forms in depth for almost 3 decades!!! She is an encyclopedia of knowledge and a library of know-how, her dance skills will leave you speechless!! So you think you can whine…..? Come to class!!!
Afro-beats and Dancehall lovers… Make sure you reach!!!
Thurs 19th March at iAstudios…
7.30pm-9pm —–> The Dancehall LAB presents a COLLABO CLASS: Dancehall & Afrobeats with Cindy & Verona!!
9pm-10.30pm ——> Afro-beats Fusion with GOP Dancers
£8/class or £14 for both!
How to get to iAstudios, here is a map:
iAstudios (1-3 Brixton Rd, London SW9 6DE)
And Tue 24th March 6-7.30pm —-> INTERNATIONAL DANCEHALL COLLABO CLASS!!!
Sir Ledgen from NYC & Cindy Claes
at Studio68 (in the big studio downstairs)
1000 Pieces Puzzle is a Dance Career Bootcamp ran by renowned dance theatre choreographer and playwright, Cindy Claes. The program covers absolutely every subject you could possibly need to know to carve out a career for yourself in dance.
The first training program was held in Brussels, Belgium, over 5 weekends in January and February 2015. Supported by Zinnema, the bootcamp was a true success!
In a theatre in Belgium called “Zinnema”, a dozen dance students in the program worked with professional mentors to sculpt a short performance piece over the space of five weekends. They learned choreography, storytelling through dance, creating a character for the stage and… they even studied project management and tools to budget their shows!
Artists of all mediums have never been known to have the best business skills.
Master painter Vincent Van Gogh, the archetype of the starving artist, famously never sold a single painting in his entire lifetime. It’s exactly that mindset that Cindy is trying to change. She believes that the key to becoming successful (whilst your still alive) is a sound business sense.
During the first weekend of the bootcamp, Cindy asked the dancers to stand up in front of the group and describe themselves as an artist in less than 2 minutes. For most of the students this was confronting, they where at a loss for words and found it hard to say more than “……I’m a dancer… and hmmmm…”.
So over the next month Cindy Claes, along with Kate Scanlan (founder of Scanners Inc., UK) and Jan Wallyn (Artistic Director of Zinnema) delivered a series workshops in budgeting, networking, marketing, pitching to funders, considering target audience, amongst many more.
The challenge for the dancers was that just five weeks later they would have to pitch themselves again, but this time, in front of a professional panel of judges who would be awarding one prize to the person and creative project with the most potential.
“A lot of dancers want to put shows together… but if you don’t have the skills to articulate your ideas and vision clearly, funding bodies and theatre venues aren’t going to invest in your potential. That’s why these professional development programs are so important.” – Cindy Claes
The heat was on, but the dancers held true to their training. When the final weekend came, all choreographers where able to speak with clarity and confidence about themselves, their artistic vision and their plan to achieve it. Each and everyone of them had a incredible breakthrough!
Zinnema was so impressed by the transformation of the artists, their pitches, and the quality of their final shows, that they decided to award not only one prize (as originally intended) but to triple their entire prize pool!
Jenny Onya received a commission of 1500 €, 10 days of rehearsal space in kind and technical support to develop her work. She created a Dance Theatre piece based on rape and the suffering of women in the Eastern Congo region. The extract her dancers performed on the night was very moving, bringing many audience members to tears.
Mouss Sarr also received a commission of 1500 €, 10 days of rehearsal space in kind and technical support to develop a creative project he wants to produce. Based on inter-disciplinary collaborations, Mouss will be producing a one day festival which will result in a mond blowing performance.
Camile and Anissa, two young Hiphop freestyle dancers received logistic support and business mentoring for a project that is close to their heart. They will run a course and program for young Hiphop freestyle dancers during te winter, providing a wamr and safe space for young people to train as well as workshops in variety of street dance techniques.
It goes to show that there is a subtle art to being successful, and with the right mindset and the right mentor it is something anyone can learn. Talent isn’t everything. It’s only one piece of the Puzzle.
And as Will Smith would say”
“Skill is only developed by hours and hours
and hours of Beating on your craft…
there’s no easy way around it,
no matter how talented you are you talent is going to fail you
if you’re not skilled,
if you don’t study,
if you don’t work really hard and dedicate yourself
to being better every single day
you’ll never be able to communicate with people with your artistry
the way that you want.” – Will Smith
Written by Sara Kerrison
Edited by Cindy Claes
We are proud and excited to share with you a documentary (made by Janka Troeber) about our UK/JA Dancehall Theatre Exchange!!! It just got released on YouTube and the images triggered so many positive memories.
The documentary got shared all over social media. Here is what the students and artists who participated to the program said:
“Truly blessed and thankful to have been a part of this wonderful project thanks to Cindy and her whole team ! It’s been a life changing experience! All the hard work, trainings and lessons learned will be remembered and applied forever, and we will continue fighting for projects like this !” – Marie Popovski
“So happy I got to be part of that beautiful project!I learnt so much from the incredible Cindy Claes and the super talented @shadysquad. I’ve also met true real good friends!” – Felicia Dotse
“One of the BEST experiences of my LIFE!!!” – Matthew Richard
“One of the best times in my career. Being apart of this collective, training HARD, pushing oneself,creating, sweating, rehearsing,performing, tiredness, laughter upon laughter,international exchange new friends cest stylé!!!!!!!!. Don’t judge the shabby rehearsal clothes and heads scarf and dry lips by den image weren’t a factor!! Lets do it AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN!!!!!!!” – Natalie Baylie
“Sorry for my ugly, sweaty,tired faces but I completely released, pushed myself, my heart,me, just as I am and I felt the love of this family so much that this has been one the best training, crew, collaboration, memory, show, xchange, experience of my life!” – Michela Di Felice
I truly believe international dance theatre connections are incredibly life changing. We now also have a DONATE page so you can support more artists to benefit from such training and experiences. These projects allow artists to not only develop their performance skills but it also supported many to nurture their leadership skills. Click here to DONATE now.
Drum rolls please…. let me introduce you to our first documentary about us taking over London and the world with Dancehall Theatre:
Badda Beats Thursdayz has finally lauched! Students have been waiting for their Christmas presents for a few weeks now, and the afro-carribean vibes finally took over Husky Studios last week!!
During the first Dancehall LAB, we worked on a choreo concept.
I used to play the piano when I was a teenager and I have decided to put my hands back on to the keyboard in 2015! It will be a journey of trials and frustrations as I will have to start from scratch, my fingers haven’t worked out on a piano for 15 years now, but I am ready for the challenge! The music I choose for the Dancehall choreo concept was the vibe I was into when I used to play piano… hope you enjoy it!
Here is the beautiful track we worked on. I will lead another choreo concept class on the same track last week of January! Let’s brush up our performance skills and enter another world…
Thursdayz is a real work out as most students (and including the teachers team!) do both classes. From Dancehall to Afro-Beats, myself and GOP Dancers feel blessed we can share the love for the art forms with a community that keeps growing, more and more! Share our promo video for the class, Badda Beats Thursdayz is the hottest evening in town!