It may seem like a mouthful – an impressive artistic orchestration of traditional Caribbean folk form infused with ballet, modern and jazz dance movements – but it’s taste will leave you mesmerized. This is the sixth year the Cultural Dance Troupe of the West Indies has produced the Cultural Spectacular. And again, they’re hoping to astonish the audience with four types of dance.
The Egyptian Nile verses the East Indian Ganges is one of the dance themes entitled “Klassical Talkaree.” No, you won’t see two rivers duking it out, but you will see a uniquely choreographed version of Lakshmi the Hindu Goddess and Cleopatra Queen of the Nile coming together to make two ancient rivers into one.
“The dance focuses on something we need in our communities right now, especially in these times when we are still trying to break racial and ethnic barriers,” says choreographer and instructor Stephen Hankey. “It shows how two cultures, East Indian and African can be brought together by dance,” he explains.
A native of Trinidad, Hankey has been with the Cultural Dance Troupe for ten years as a choreographer and instructor. He also put the entire production together from start to finish.
In the themed dance “Death! Beyond The Grave,” Hankey demonstrates how West Africans rejoice and celebrate the dead with bongo dancing. “My inspiration came from watching the news and seeing so much death and violence. I wanted to address it but do it in the form of a dance,” he explains.
In the French satire themed dance “Bele-Air La Renaissance,” Hankey shows how dancing enslaved Africans were mimicked unknowingly by their French masters. The roles turn once the slaves become free; they mimic their masters as they dance at a ball.
Going out with a bang the finale “Carnival Explosion” brings traditional Caribbean Carnival to the stage with a multitude of costumes, masks, limbo dancers, Brazilian style Samba and sailors. “Carnival is the biggest form of street theater and it brings a lot of people together regardless of social status or ethnic background,” explains Hankey.
The Cultural Spectacular takes place on Saturday, June 27 at The Bushnell’s Belding Theater, with a post-Spectacular reception party at Tinkers on Main. For more details, visit the Cultural Dance Website.
A mouthwatering meal in the form of dance, the Cultural Spectacular will leave you craving more!