BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
For years, the artistic expression of dance has been founded in the deep traditional roots of the many cultures of the world. This performance art form has paved the way for both dancers and musicians, as an outlet to channel feelings and emotions into creatively put together choreography.
For twenty-five years Ballet Creole has focused on the disciplines of the Caribbean and Africa, to establish a Professional School of Performing Arts that focuses on traditional and contemporary dance while infusing music from around the world.
Ballet Creole was established in August 1990, founded by Trinidadian-born dancer, choreographer, drummer and educator Patrick Parsons who holds a Masters in Dance Ethnology and BFA in Dance. His vision for the school was to combine traditional Caribbean and African ideals with the modern technique of Katherine Dunham to produce a strong yet versatile professional dance company, incomparable to any within Canada. Ballet Creole studies the dominance of drums and rhythms as a way of communicating between people and communities and aspires through the Arts to show their central philosophy that “Harmony in Diversity Creates a New Energy”.
Last month through the advocacy of the Hon. Jean Augustine, former MP and Fairness Commissioner of Ontario, The Ballet Creole School of Performing Arts was finally able to find a new place to call home. After three years of occupying temporary space, in order to keep the school in operation, they were able to settle in comfortably at their new location at 101 Portland Street, just south of the Queensway, off of Royal York. Currently in the processes of rebuilding, their new space in Etobicoke is located right next to Jean Augustine’s Centre for Young Women. They have formed a partnership with the center, volunteering and supporting the young women through community outreach.
During their open house, many attended to gather information, about classes starting for the fall term and preparations and rehearsals currently in the works for their live presentations next year. Attendees had the chance to get acquainted with the team, register for classes and enjoy free African-Caribbean Dance & Drum Workshops. On September 27th, in partnership with The Assembly Hall they put on their presentation of ‘J’ouvert!’ an interactive theatrical presentation of dance and live percussion, displaying the carnival celebrations of the Pan-American countries.
The Ballet Creole School offers recreational classes for everyone, standing behind the philosophy that if you can move, you can dance. Anyone as young as five years of age to sixty-five is invited to this unique and nurturing environment. Everyone with the desire to dance can do so in a challenging yet fun and educational setting. The powerful tones of the drums are ever-present as each class is accompanied by a group of talented musicians playing traditional and contemporary instruments. Not only does Ballet Creole offer a dance and music school, they are the home of one of Toronto’s premier dance companies. The teachers at Ballet Creole, are all either company members or industry professionals. They are the leaders of contemporary Afro-Caribbean dance and have been recognized as the harbingers of Blacks in Dance in Canada.
Ballet Creole’s Artistic Director Patrick Parson stays true to his mission of bringing forth the artistic richness that is embedded in Canada’s multicultural communities. “At the Ballet Creole School you are provided with the opportunity to learn and infuse yourself in amazing Afro-Caribbean dance styles.” On September 27th, Ballet Creole was presented with an Award at the Caribbean Music and Entertainment for their achievements as the Top Dance Group for Afro-Caribbean Creole Dance.
Moving forward Ballet Creole strives to implement dynamic and new artistic tradition in Canada, that stems from the ‘creolization’ or fusion of diverse dance and musical traditions. Coming to Toronto this holiday season from Dec 4th-6th is their presentation of ‘An Indigo Christmas…Soulful Messiah’ where Ballet Creole will collaborate with Nathaniel Dett Chorale taking the audience on a journey of celebration and spirituality. Exquisitely performed by the Ballet Creole Company & Guest Tapper David Cox, with the uplifting and soul-stirring voices of the Chorale this is a holiday show you won’t wan to miss!
For more information about classes, or how you can be apart of Ballet Creole visit www.balletcreole.org