One of the premier dance ensembles in Jamaica is in Grand Cayman this weekend to celebrate 50 year of Jamaican independence.
The Stella Maris Dance Ensemble is on a whirlwind tour, as they have to rush back to Jamaica to take part in the official independence celebrations there. This is the second visit the ensemble has made to the Cayman Islands, and after the massive response to their performances last year they were eager to come back and thrill local audiences.
Performances will take place at the Harquail Theatre, with the opening night taking place on Friday, 20 July at 8pm. Another performance will follow Saturday night at 8pm, with a farewell performance Sunday at 4pm.
From humble beginnings in 1986, the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble has grown to boast about 25 dancers and seeks to give people a sense of pride in their own heritage.
The group has also represented Jamaica all over the globe, with their first international appearance back in 1986 bringing the then fledgling group to the Cayman Islands.
Although this is the second visit of the group to Cayman, event organiser Lucille Seymour says audiences can expect a fresh new show.
“It is a different performance from last year. Any good company takes something that the audience before liked and they will perhaps be bringing back one or two that the audience liked, but every year this particular group has their own show and they introduce new dances,” she says.
The ensemble is unique in that the dancers involved all hold other professional jobs outside of dancing.
“The makeup of the group is certainly diverse from a professional standpoint – they come from all professional activities – some of them are nurses, teachers, lawyers, doctors, but this is what they do to enhance themselves.
One of the principal dancers is an anaesthesiologist so she is a doctor, but she sees this as helping her own development as a person,” Ms Seymour says.
The visit is being organised by the Cayman Islands Netball Association as a fundraiser for the development of netball in the Cayman Islands.
“Netball has really helped many of our women in this country. Many of our leading women in this country have all been through netball and I still think it is one of the purest team sports because it is a sport as a team that you cannot win unless it goes through at least three of the seven persons’ hands, which is something that cannot be said for many sports,” Ms Seymour says.
Members of the ensemble will also be conducting masters classes with local students, giving them exposure to dance and the performing arts that they might not otherwise have.
“The people who are coming and the instructors, they themselves were great ballet dancers, either in Cuba or Jamaica or somewhere else, so they now instruct younger people,” she says.
Members of the ensemble will get involved with a local workshop called Summer Kaleidoscope in order to give local youth greater exposure to the performing arts.
“On the Saturday, which is a matinee specifically for the young people which is at four o’clock in the afternoon they will perform two or three of their dances and then from that workshop they will put together a couple of other dances which they will culminate on the stage on Saturday. The youngsters look forward to that day as well,” Ms Seymour says.
Tickets cost $30 and are available from Shop-Smart and Funky Tangs on Shedden Road.