Dance Grenada launches first international festival

Shola K. Roberts performing with Kowteff African Dance Company.
photo courtesy of Shola K. Roberts

Award-winning, Grenadian-born, international dancer and choreographer Shola K. Roberts is hosting the inaugural Dance Grenada International Dance Festival from Oct. 23-25. 

Roberts, the Brooklyn-based founder and executive director of Dance Grenada, told Caribbean Life on Monday that Dance Grenada is a festival that will provide a platform for Grenadian and international dance artisans to “share and increase their knowledge base of traditional and contemporary dance styles and techniques.”

From bele to ballet and Contemporary Caribbean to Hip Hop, Roberts said the three-day virtual festival will include dance workshops and performances of all kinds, panel discussions and symposia “while contributing to the larger Grenadian and dance community and the world around them.”

“In starting Dance Grenada, it was about creating the space, not waiting for anyone else to create the space for us,” Roberts said. “We can’t wait on anyone to acknowledge or validate what it is that we have to offer.” 

She said participants in this unique festival will be a part of a cultural exchange, “which strives to enliven and enrich the connections of the African Diaspora through dance.” 

Dance artists, choreographers and educators will “facilitate, promote and preserve cultural legacy, as well as facilitate community engagement,” said Roberts, a fitness instructor who has had the opportunity to work with many renowned dance companies and choreographers. 

Her credits include performances with Kowteff West African Dance Company, under the artistic direction of Sewaa Codrington; and Oyu Oro, under the artistic direction of La Mora, Fritzalyn Hector, Francine Elizabeth Ott and Otis D. Herring, for whom she served as an assistant choreographer. 

Among her other accolades, Roberts was a part of the 2018 Voices of Congo Square cast, which made its debut in the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans, LA.  She has also worked with the Purelements, an evolution in dance, as a professional company member, teaching technique styles like Dunham, African and Jazz, jazz, among others. 

She has even taken her passion and love for the art form to Grenada and St. Marteen. 

Shola K. Roberts.

In Grenada, Roberts said she led several dance workshops, in 2014, at the Conception Dance Theater, under the direction of Cecilia Griffith. Most recently, the Grenadian Consulate and the Grenadian Independence Committee in New York honored Roberts with the 2020 Cultural Award. 

She was also a 2019 Caribbean Life Impact Award honoree and was a 2014 awardee of Caribbean Life’s 40 under 40 Award, an honor given to Caribbean Americans who have made an impact in the community.

For more information on Dance Grenada, visit www.dancegrenada.com.

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