The UK/JA Dancehall Theatre Exchange Project

Mini documentary of the Dancehall Theatre Exchange in London
2014

Cindy Claes was an ADAD Trailblazer 2013-14. The award supported her to research and nurture a vision she had for many years: setting up an International Dancehall Theatre Exchange between Jamaica and the UK. Whilst the first milestones of the projects were achieved early 2014 (sold out Dancehall Theatre Production at Sadler’s Wells, trip to Jamaica and Dancehall Theatre workshops at DanceJa, collaboration with Shady Squad, etc.), Cindy’s vision for the future is ambitious. The UK/JA Dancehall Theatre Exchange is a platform for professional development, an opportunity for artists from both sides of the globe to collaborate and exchange skills, it’s a true springboard for long term artistic relationships to start and to blossom in the near future. The project has an educational aspect, exploring Dancehall within Theatre, and a performance aspect, creating collaborative productions. The exchange has as aim to inspire young emerging dancers as well as established artists.

Dancehall Theatre Exchanges, Performances & Workshops in Kingston / Jamaica

The Dancehall Theatre Worshop Series In Jamaica

The International Exchanges are all about spreading the love for Dance Theatre… Why? Cindy’s inspiration came from her own experience as a young street dancer, trying to find ways to express herself and make a living from her art form.  When she discovered the art of using Dance in Theatre and tell stories through dance, her entire world changed.  It empowered her so much as an artist that she wanted to teach it to other street dancers, and give them too the opportunity to explore this avenue.  Dance Theatre is an opportunity for development for our street dance communities as a whole.
Wanting to give back to a community that inspires her so much, Cindy lead a series of Dancehall Theatre workshops in the heart of Kingston.  DanceJa (Cultural Centre and Dance School) supported her initiative by offered rehearsal space in kind, and so, a collaboration started between Kingstonian dancers and London.
After a few weeks of explorations, Cindy curated and produced a scratch night at DanceJa to celebrate what had been achieved so far and to share with downtown and uptown audiences the beauty and the magic of what Dancehall Theatre could offer.

TV Interview!

The Dancehall Theatre Exchange Program made it to “Smile Jamaica”, the most watched breakfast program in Jamaica!!

Background & History about the JA/UK Project

2010

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Cindy was awarded a small grant by ADAD (Association of the African Diaspora) to further her research on Dancehall. She immediatelly decided to book a flight to Jamaica and go to the roots of a culture she had so much passion for. She had been dreaming for about 12 years to visit Kingston, and finally this dream became true. During her first visit she had the priviledge to work with Orville Hall, Artistic Director of Xpressionz, a renown Dancehall crew. He took her under his wings and a total new and exciting world unfolded under her eyes day after day. While she was exploring the underground scene and attending as many Dancehall sessions at night as possible, she also studied during the day. Cindy was a dedicated student at Edna Manley College, attending their yearly summer program. She trained in various Jamaican folk dance forms such as Kumina, Dinki Mini and Revival, and had lectures on the history of Jamaica and it’s influence on the arts.
Cindy wanted to share with others what inspired her so much as a dancer: Theatre. Edna Manley College offered her free rehearsal space to lead a few informal Dancehall Theatre Workshops. Dancers such as, Chelcia Creary, Raddy Rich, Sri Lanka and Nicky Trice attended the workshops where they explored movement in a different way. Spoken words, quotes, comedy, and the infinite possibilities of the imagination made these workshops so special, Cindy was determined to take the idea of international sharing further.

2011

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Cindy worked with a humble and incredibly talented Dancehall crew called Supreme Blazers (2011 winners of In The Dance TV show in Jamaica!). During her trip, she also directed a duet with Chelcia Creary, who graduated from Edna Manley College and performed for NDTC (National Dance Theatre Company Jamaica).
The dancers tapped into their hidden acting skills and were very excited to explore storytelling and emotional work using Dancehall.

Interviews with Jamaican Dancers

Dancehall Theatre – a Scratch Night for Uptown & Downtown Audiences!