Dance Caribbean Collective’s Third Year

Our Caribbean Spirit: New Traditions Festival 2017
Mark Morris Dance Center | June 16 – 18, 2017

There are cultural niches waiting to be filled, some particular to Brooklyn, where the islands of the Caribbean come together. Candace Thompson realized this as an emerging choreographer who wondered how she could get her work more widely seen, and more specifically, how work like hers, imbued with both her formal training in modern dance and other dance idioms, and her Trinidadian heritage, could reach a Caribbean American audience in New York. Joining with others in the same situation, she founded Dance Caribbean Collective (DCC) to present their first program in June 2015.

Choreographer/Dancer Safi Harriott in her piece Sorry Uncle Johnny. Credit: Shane Drummond

In the short time since, DCC has grown exponentially. The collective not only offered a performance festival in 2016 and three days of Caribbean-inflected contemporary dance at the Mark Morris Dance Center this June, but also now encompasses dance classes, town hall meetings, a youth dance program, and a network of choreographers and mentors who can offer each other mutual support. And, of course, a website1: one that connects multiple programs, interests, participants, research, videos, and a calendar of dance classes and events, all coming together into a dense and expanding web of people and organizations interested in Caribbean dance and culture.

“Why don’t more people know about us?” is the question Thompson and her incipient collective asked. Everything DCC does is designed to expand the audience for Caribbean dance and culture and the connections between them. From Pearl Primus (from Trinidad) to Garth Fagan (from Jamaica), important choreographers have connected Caribbean origins and African antecedents with American modern dance. So the mix of Caribbean and modern into something new and contemporary is not new at all, either in the U.S. or back home on the islands. Still, it can be…

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