DANCE STYLES: Founder and principal of the CCDA Candice Clark will stage her 14th dance production Joie de Vivre on August 10 2014 at Queen’s Hall. —Photos courtesy The Candice Clark Academy of Dance

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The Joy of Life ... in Dance

By \\\\\ Verdel Bishop

The Candice Clark Academy of Dance (CCAD) will stage its 14th dance production on August 10 at Queen’s Hall in St Ann’s. 

Joie de Vivre is set to be the academy’s biggest production to date, featuring over 135 dancers from the academy.  Founder and principal of the CCDA Candice Clarke said the production celebrates the joy of living and dance which will showcase a number of dance genres including elements of theatre. Participants from the junior, senior and professional levels of the academy are involved in the production.  

Clarke is a Performing Arts Teacher II with the Ministry of Education. The CCAD is an internationally recognised academy known for its new cosmopolitan eclectic fusion of dance styles and techniques such as the Creola which incorporates elements of other dance genres inclusive of Caribbean folk idioms, ballet, modern, jazz, tap and hip hop, fused with the techniques of Martha Graham, Lester Horton and Contemporary, all thrown into the mix of a choreographed dance. 

The academy, which is located at Central Athletic Club, Maraj Street, Montrose, Chaguanas,  has seen many accomplishments since its launch in 1997 including launch of a dance inspired clothing line called “Dance Creola Wear” and the first Creola Dance and Fashion magazine. The academy has also created and produced Triple S — dance workout in heels for adults which is a growing trend. The academy has also pioneered the first wheelchair dance programme. The academy has produced 14 productions to date including the “Dance Creola Tour” to Jamaica and New York and has performed for major corporate organisations and participated in national events such as CHOGM, 5th Summit and International Soca Awards. The Academy continues to provide charitable dancers for NGOs through its Dance for a Course programme. 

Clarke explained that Dance with a Cause endorses dance education with the aim of building self-confidence and self-esteem, whilst bringing and building awareness on social issues and importantly, making positive contributions to youth development, using dance as the avenue of expression. A significant portion of all proceeds generated by the academy is directed tangibly to beneficiaries of that ‘Cause’. The academy also supports the interest of the Toronto Arts Stars which is a Non-Governmental Organisation/ Community Based Group in Canada and continues to be affiliated with various groups.  The academy placed 3rd for the Best Village Traditions of Carnival in 2011. 

Clarke is proud of the academy’s accomplishments. She noted the Academy’s growth over the years. “We have seen a lot of growth and development. When you can see dancers that you have trained from as early as the age of three who are now at the professional arm of the academy you know you have grown. Last year we launched our professional arm of the academy with a production called “Heart Beat”.  Joie de Vivre is an exciting experience. Our dancers are excited. Patrons are set to experience a theatric production of professional quality in our two hour production. We have a big cast; we have also incorporated theatre in the production. 

“My vision is to continue developing youths to bring them to the best that they could be. I always say to them you never stop learning. As a dancer you are always discovering new things your body could do. In growing and developing they are always challenged to do something that does not seem easy; you are always encouraged to push the button to challenge yourself a little bit more.  My academy doesn’t just cover dance but we actually brining the overall theatre experience — all the elements of theatre and performance on stage,” Clarke said. 

“The academy’s syllabus illustrates that students are exposed to a broad spectrum of various dance genres including ballet, tap, folk, bele, Indian classical, hip hop.  

Many parents are seeing the benefits of dance.  Dance should start from a young age as it develops some skills like coordination, balance, strength, discipline, stamina and memory.  With dance children can overcome shyness and have increased self-confidence, positive outlook and build social abilities. So dance education reinforces what school like our academy is doing.”

 “We use the ‘Creola’ to demonstrate our multiculture in dance which demonstrates that a single dance is not lost but a new dance emerges representative of what dance was, what dance is and all that can be, dance. Creola is an exhilarating blend of techniques and styles of dance. CCAD is mission and values endorsed any dance related projects geared towards further developing the youth’s creativity, building self-esteem and bringing awareness for the cultural art forms,’ Clarke said.

She further explained the vision of the academy.  “CCAD is also focused on reaching out to society as a whole. Through our innovation and passion for dance we have implemented  Dance with a Cause which is a holistic initiative indeed for youths enrolled in our programme who use dance to raise awareness of the differently abled community and to contribute to and touch societies, nationally and internationally.

“The academy has a unique syllabus. Each term we cover the various levels:  ballet, tap, acro, Caribbean folk for level one and two. When our dancers reach level  three and advance we add more genres to the syllabus which include Indian folk, limbo, hip hop, modern contemporary using Horton and Graham techniques.  When our dancers turn 18 years of age they are promoted through a selection process for the company membership,” Clarke said. 

For further information on Joie de Vivre visit www.candiceclarkeacademy.org or look up the academy on Facebook. 

The academy continues to showcase nationally and internationally. The professional arm of the academy is set to travel to Europe next year. 

More photos on Page 6

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