BRIDGETTE WILSON, principal of the Caribbean School of Dancing and team leader of Team TT that were successful at the recent All Dance International World Championship in Orlando, Florida, USA, is still on a high after winning a couple category competitions.
Days before the competition, the TT contingent comprising 22 dancers – with only one male among them, flew into Orlando to be settled because they weren’t accustomed to competition nor to travelling, Wilson said. Fun things were planned for them for the first two days then it was Wilson's job to get the team focused on their mission.
Speaking with the Newsday on Thursday Wilson said: “There was a huge shift in how we had to approach everything when we got there. I think the girls got quite nervous when they saw the other teams arriving with everyone’s hair combed the same way and dressed identically. And although we did have our team uniform, it was very different for them to see all the other 25 teams from around the world, always on their p’s and q’s and that they were in a different place mentally than where we were at.”
She said the team’s anxieties soared when they saw hundreds of other students from other countries rehearsing everywhere – in corridors, hallways, streets sides or anywhere they could find to rehearse.
“I think that kind of put them off a little bit so to get them focused we found a studio nearby where we could regroup without the parents and chaperones present. Just me and the students to prepare them for the competition physically and mentally.
“We had no idea what we were up against though we’d done our research looking at how the competition panned out for the past two years, and the level of talent displayed. We had no idea which groups we were coming up against. We were just going in there blindly and putting our best foot forward,” Wilson said.
Before the competition, there were a series of workshops of different styles of dance open to all participants, from hip-hop to ballet. Wilson said she encouraged Team TT to do as many as they could for the experience, since there were teachers from around the world conducting these workshops and they could pick up something new or different.
She said: “What really boosted their confidence to me was at the hip-hop workshop instructed by the well-known hip-hop artiste Drako. He absolutely loved them. Every few minutes he was calling on Team TT to perform the choreography. I think it was, perhaps, because of the Trini-flavour type of movement he saw in them.”
Wilson said all the international students were very supportive of Team TT and that there was a good sense of sportsmanship and camaraderie because all the students were there basically for the same reason, and that is to get new experiences in dance and to learn from each other.
“So there was a huge support from all the other countries when Team TT was called upon to dance. It was a back an forth with Spain, something of an impromptu dance-off that everybody enjoyed,” Wilson said.
The first person from the TT contingent to face competition was Cheyenne Carrington-Green in the neo-classical solo. She placed second.
Wilson said: “That really boosted the confidence in the rest of the team. They were upbeat for the rest of the day."
The team also had Dr Asante Le Blanc who also did her part in preparing the dancers for competition mentally and physically.
Next set of competitors were the duets Sade Flemming and Jenique Blanc who didn’t place, but the third competition featuring Team TT, the group of 18 dancers category, that team placed first in Lyrical Dance Competition. Wilson said the team went to their rooms on a high that night.
The following day, two sets of duets went up for competition.
Keanu Mohammed and Anna Maria de Freitas, and Dominique and Keeley Hosang. While the latter did not place, the Mohammed/de Freitas combination knocked it out of the park and won the Contemporary Dance Duet competition with a dance that was choreographed by Mohammed himself.
Wilson said by this time Team TT was on cloud nine.
Back home and reflecting on the competition she said: “It was a good experience, we didn’t know what to expect, we didn’t go in it to win but rather to allow the school to have a different kind of experience. It was just something new for the school. It was quite inspiring and we are going to keep doing what we are doing and see what more we can do to push the students who are already asking about more competitions next year.
“I think the school has done a lot locally in the 61 years and has produced the largest amount of dancers, teachers and choreographers who have careers both locally and internationally. So it’s now an opportunity for the school itself to go international.”
The All Dance International World Championship that was headquartered at Hilton Orlando Resort November 21-25, is a Panama-based organisation with franchises in 75 countries worldwide.