Renowned British choreographer shares his skills with local dancers |09 January 2024
Forty students from the School of Performing Arts are since yesterday benefiting from a one week dance training workshop by renowned British dancer, Shevelle Dynott.
It has been organised by the National Arts and Crafts Council (NACC) in collaboration with the British high commission.
The dance workshop will culminate with a grand performance by the students at the National Theatre on Saturday 13, 2024 at 3pm.
Apart from 28 students from the School of Dance, five female and four male dancers from La Digue and 3 male students from popular local dance group, the Emergency Crew, are participating in the workshop.
In an interview with Seychelles NATION, the head of School of Dance, Daniella Rose, said it was great to have Mr Dynott back given his great expertise in classical dancing which is a plus in getting the students to move to a higher level.
“We are very satisfied with the work he did with the students in the past and this is why we recommended that he comes back for more training. He is more experienced than us with regard to training and showcasing of classical dance repertoires, such as Alice in Wonderland, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, Giselle, among others and we expect to see more improvement in this type of dance among our students,” said Ms Rose.
For his part, Mr Dynott said he was happy to be back to offer more of his dancing and choreographic skills to the students, and that the partnership continues.
He stated that he had prepared a repertoire, based on ‘Romero and Juliet’, for the students to work on during the whole week.
“This time I want them to work with emotions. It is such a famous story of love, hate and friendship and I want to show the dancers that they can have all these emotions in movements. Last year it was more on imagination through the Alice in Wonderland presentation but this time it will be more about the dynamics of relationship. It will be very interesting to watch,” he said.
Mr Dynott, who is on his third visit in the country, is a very skillful classical dancer and experienced choreographer. He first came to the country in 2022 where he taught a small group of dance students on La Digue. In January 2023, his classical dance contribution ended up with the performance of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ at the National Theatre by some 40 students. He is remembered as the first black child to attend the Royal Ballet School in 1997 and one of the first children to complete the 'Chance to Dance' training and be accepted on the Royal Ballet School's Junior Associates programme in the United Kingdom. He has appeared in numerous productions for the English National Ballet, including Alice in Wonderland as the Mock Turtle, Puss in Boots, The Nutcracker as the Mouse King and The Sleeping Beauty.
Twenty-six-year-old, Gael Guichard from ‘Emergency Crew’ said that it was an honour for him to participate in the workshop for the second time after taking part in the first session in 2022.
He hopes to improve more on his dance moves, especially ballet, which he will search with other colleagues in the group.
“I got the chance to take part in the first session held on La Digue. I missed the second one, but now I am very happy to be included in this session and further more to meet again and to learn from a very experienced and talented dancer,” Gael said.
Ten-year-old Ethan Laurence from the La Digue School of Dance said that he joined the session to improve to the next level. The La Digue School of Dance under the School of Performing Arts has 70 students, among whom nine are boys. The School of Dance on Mahé has 125 students; female dancers being the majority. There is no dance school on Praslin.
Ms Rose said that the schools on Mahé and La Digue offer training in various types of dance such as ballet, modern, jazz, afro and hip hop among others but the problem is a lack of male participation.
“It is very hard for us when we do our traditional dances as we have to do it among the girls which does not match. But we are trying our best to get more boys to join the School of Dance,” said Ms Rose.
Text & photos by Patrick Joubert