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Dance your way to fitness, Carib style

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A vision written down with a due date is no longer a dream; instead, it evolves into a goal. Just a year ago, Candace Thompson envisioned a dance collective to support and celebrate Caribbean American dancers in the Diaspora. Today, the Dance Caribbean Collective is still catapulting forward with new elements including fitness dance classes, bigger shows and more.

According to Thompson, “There are a lot of people using Caribbean culture to create these dance fitness classes that are more open to the general public; I just wanted to highlight all these different styles and cultures that are being taught and bring them to the light that we have a lot to share.”

The Trinidadian native has remained busy teaching classes, performing, and planning the next steps for the collective.

This year, the organization has collaborated with Brooklyn Studios for Dance to create an enticing lineup of featured Caribbean fitness dance courses titled “DCC Diaspora Dance Series” including CaribFunk led by A’Keitha Carey, Afro-Island led by Jessica Phoenix, Bomba led by Miltieri Tucker, and more.

“There’s a substantial Caribbean community there and people have been asking for Caribbean based dance classes,” Thompson explained.

While Caribbean-style dance fitness classes have become a new trend, Thompson does see this particular series withstanding pass the fad phase as the dances are consistently evolving and remaining interesting.

“I can speak for the class that I teach which is soca, because the music evolves every year as carnival evolves there is always something new to add, always something new to incorporate,” she said.

Aside from the new dance classes, Thompson is also gearing up for the second annual “New Traditions Festival” showcase, which she intends making bigger than their first year.

Last year, the collective only featured five local artists. This year, Thompson is featuring five local artists, but to participate in the show artists must involve themselves in their communities through free workshops at schools, churches, or a local community center, and is also featuring a renowned Caribbean choreographer outside of New York. The event will feature Christopher Walker’s and Kevin A. Ormsby’s “Facing Home: Love and Redemption.” It will be held on Saturday, June 11, 7:30 pm and Sunday, June 12, 6 pm at GK Arts Center, 26 Jay St., NY 11201.

“This year we’ve had time to plan and think of ways to get the community involved,” Thompson explained. “We’re calling it an artist in residency program — the school gives the artist free space and the artist teaches the population.”

To raise the necessary funds to ensure the showcase is bigger than the previous year, Thompson and her team at the Dance Caribbean Collective have launched an IndieGoGo campaign to fund the event and are planning an upcoming dance-a-thon April 16.

Keep up with Thompson and the Dance Caribbean Collective on Facebook or their website dancecaribbeancollective.com, which provides updates on upcoming shows and classes.

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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