Grenadian American teaches dance diversity classes in Grenada

Award-winning professional dancer, Shola K. Roberts, is now in Grenada teaching traditional West African dance to emerging dancers on the island.

Roberts, who is of Grenadian descent, was invited to return to the island of her roots to teach at Conception Dance Theatres’ Diversity in Dance Workshop series — an invitation she considers an honor.

“It feels amazing to be asked to return home to share my passion and love for the art form,” she said. “Grenada’s culture has roots in African traditions, so I am excited to teach a technique that is close to the dances that are traditionally done there.”

Roberts, who has performed with the Kowteff West African Dance Company, will demonstrate dances that are indigenous to Guinea, Ivory Coast and Senegal to students along with lessons on the history of these specific dances and their cultural significance.

Conception Dance Theatre founder, Cecilia Griffith is excited to have Roberts teach her students dances like Kuku, Sinte and Doudonba.

“As Caribbean dancers we already have a connection to Africa and with the introduction of African dance it will strengthen our roots, while making our students more diverse in the movement capabilities,” Griffith said.

Up to 75 students will participate in the five-day dance workshop from Saturday, Oct. 18 to Friday, Oct. 24. At the end of the week of classes, students will perform routines learned throughout the week.

“I am looking forward to seeing how receptive the students will be to the dance and music that is so close to our culture,” Roberts said. “I am also looking forward to working with new bodies. As an instructor it is always interesting to see how a body might interpret the movement”.

Roberts will appear on “Good Morning Grenada” during her time on the island to talk details on the workshop as well as her love for dance and her Grenadian heritage.

Roberts is a Brooklyn-based professional dancer, fitness instructor and model. Her credits include performances with Kowteff West African Dance Company, David Dorfman, Francine Elizabeth Ott and Otis D. Herring, for whom she serves as an assistant choreographer. Traveling and taking her message of uplifting people through dance and fitness is something this Howard University Fine Arts graduate has made her mission.

Conception Dance Theatre was formed in October 2007 by Cecilia Griffith, a graduate of the dance program at the University of the West Indies, Mona. The dance school and performance group specializes in Acro, Ballet, Modern, and Grenadian/Caribbean folk forms. The school was started with approximately 50 students and has since grown to approximately 200 students. The dance school is currently located upstairs the National Museum, St. George, Grenada.

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