Antigua St John's - Shiva’s School of Dance is putting on a production that will make you take another look at the world we live in.
"The Earth Comes To Life" will be presented to the public on June 8 and 9 at 8 pm, and June 10 at 7 pm at the University of the West Indies (open campus).
This carefully-thought-out show takes you on an almost magical journey with Mother Earth and her fairies, who tend to Earth’s inhabitants. Mimicking everyday life, it shows the story of those who don’t respect Mother Earth and litter and pollute. To find out what happens when Mother Earth catches them littering, you will have to go and watch.
Tavia Hunte, owner of and dance teacher at Shiva’s School of Dance, recalls that the idea for her show came to her in the middle of the night. “I was awoken around 3 o’ clock in the morning, and the entire production was in my head," she said.
"I sat down in the living room and literally took dictation from the voice in my head. Thirty minutes later, the script was on paper. I sat silently for two more hours and received visualizations of music and dance moves.”
Hunte is thrilled that the show addresses an issue that is close to her heart. She hopes when people leave the show, they will look at the Earth with new eyes and start caring more, so there would be less suffering.
She noticed that every day, people jump into their cars to go to work or conduct some sort of seemingly important business and think that therefore, they are better than a tree or dirt, not remembering that without those trees, life as they know it will cease to exist.
The spirited dance teacher believes that many people have a total disregard for trees and nature. She wants the public to understand that they don’t live on the Earth, but in it, and that it is a breathing, living entity.
“We need to care more for it, and show a greater respect for nature," she said. "We need to beautify the environment instead of destroying it, so we can live healthier and be more spiritually grounded. God is in nature and if we love God, we have to love nature."
Hunte started taking dance classes with Veron Stoute when she was 17, and continued to do so for five years. Then in 2001, she formed her own dance group, the Company Dancers, together with six friends. “We practiced in the living room of one of the friends,” she said, “and before we knew it, we were performing at just about every hotel on the island."
Hunte knew that dancing was something she wanted to do for the rest of her life, but she also wanted to give more, and to do that she had to become a qualified dance teacher. “I dreamed my way to the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica," she said. "I applied for a scholarship at the Board of Education, wrote a heartfelt proposal letter, and was granted the scholarship. The International Women’s Club paid for my ticket. I came back last year August and started teaching five days a week.”
Her school now boasts 52 dancers with ages varying from 3 to 60-plus.
To prepare her students for the show, she incorporated the dance moves for her production in the warm-up, and sequences that they would learn weekly. This way, her students could easily pull the moves from their memory and incorporate them into the dance. Hunte explained that this made it less of a challenge, especially for the very young ones.
Twelve-year-old Danijha Simon will be dancing a solo scene called "This is my now." She has been dancing since the age of seven, has a very natural talent for dance, and is certainly a young lady to watch out for. “I want to be a dancer when I grow up, and go to the Dance Academy in New York”, she gushed. Danijha has been praticising her solo for two months, and also puts in half-an-hour every day to make sure her performance is perfect. “Dancing makes me feel free, fluent and happy,” she added.
Simon will also be performing "The Latin Dance" with 13-year-old Tequon Hunte. He has been dancing since the age of three. He is the only young male in the youth dance group, but doesn’t seem to mind. “I grew up with 15 females, all relatives, and am used to being around females," he said. Even though he loves dancing, he aspires to be a rapper.
A show wouldn’t be a show with costumes, as they bring everything to life. For many years now, Roberta De Castro has been working with Tavia Hunte, and the two have developed a mother–daughter relationship. "Roberta taught in my ‘green’ stages when I started out with my dance group," Hunte said. "She showed me how to care for costumes, how to manage props on stage, how to get sponsorships and much more."
De Castro is a seasoned costume designer with movie credits to her name. She went to Hunte’s rehearsals, watched, and listened to the music and knew exactly what costumes to make. “The production showcases some Caribbean music, so I opted for a Dominican headdress style, with little peasant blouses and red-and-white flower material for the skirts, with loads and loads of layers of frill," she said. "I love frills, as they are very girly-girly."
Admission is $25 for adults and $15 for children. Tickets are available at Best of Books or by calling Mrs Hunte at 722-3911.
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