Although Best Overall Male Dancer at Sanfest 2012 Shakeil Jones made his mark on the dance calendar some time ago, his award winning performance at the Finals of the 22nd NGC Annual National Junior Arts Festival held at the Creative Arts Centre, Circular Road in San Fernando last week served only to reinforce his ability.
“A technically strong dancer who made exceedingly good use of his chosen piece of music, themed Heart Beat. It was an excellent and pore raising performance,” said Eric Butler, chief adjudicator, in a critique of the performance of the Goodwood High School student.
Dance is my life
“I always possessed the natural ability to dance but I never took it seriously till 2002. At the age of eight I became a member of the Pembroke Folk and Cultural Performers, and this is where I did my first ever performance, which was on a national scale at the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition in which we emerged winners in the Folk Theatre category,” Jones said.
“I always had a passion for folk and African dancing and until this day those are my strong point genres. From 2003 till present I am a proud participating tool in the Tobago Heritage Festival. My village (Pembroke) presents the Salaka Feast, which brings a climax to the festival. There I have played key roles as I was given the opportunity to perform multiple solos and at times even acting roles. My preteen years of performance were engulfed by the Tobago Heritage Festival.”
At the age of ten, Jones said, he was a part of a 20-member delegation chosen from within his dance group to represent Tobago in Carriacou, Grenada at the Carriacou Maroon Festival, leading to his international exposure.
“I embraced this experience as I was uncertain if anymore would come, but that uncertainty was twisted as in 2009, I was then again selected to be a part of a delegation representing this time Trinidad and Tobago in Toronto, Canada at the Muhtadi International Drumming Festival.”
At age 12 Jones began dancing professionally and since 2006 has been among the most elite dancers in Tobago to perform at the Tobago Heritage Festival opening night gala. Earlier this year he was part of a delegation that went to Toronto, Canada to market this country’s culture at Caribana 2012, which focused mainly on T&T and Jamaica because both territories celebrated 50 years of Independence this year.
Jones eventually began exploring other genres of dance, including modern and Limbo. “At age 15 while looking at a dance video, I was amazed by the technique of the dancers in the video, then I said to myself ‘I wanna try this’ and that is how my dance life started with modern dance.
“Darcelle Kirk is the person responsible for me mastering the art of Limbo. In this arena I did Hotel shows and public performances which step by step added to me being a multifaceted dancer.”
• Sanfest finals continue with command performances on November 20 and 21, primary and secondary schools respectively, and the Prize Giving Ceremony at the Naparima Bowl, in San Fernando.
Other award winners were
• Best Female Dancer – Cheyenne-Rose Dailey – San Fernando Central Secondary.
• Best Overall Female Dancer - Aalyah Lewis - Pleasantville Secondary.
• Best East Indian Dancer – Abigail Mansingh – Holy Faith Convent, Penal.
• Best Modern Dance - (duet) Aalyah Lewis & Emiah Fleming – Memories, Spirit of a True Friend, Pleasantville Secondary.
• Best Creative Foreign Dance—Lyndon Bonnet —Get Up on the Wrong Side of Bed - Fyzabad AC Secondary.
• Best Overall Dance Costume – Bele’ - Pleasantville Secondary.
• Best Overall Dance School - Pleasantville Secondary.