After canceling ArtSea Dance last year due to COVID-19 safety protocols, program founders Courtney Celeste Spears and Asa Cary say they are delighted they will be hosting the 2021 event, which celebrates its fifth year.
“Though we are still in the midst of a pandemic, the ArtSea team felt it was important to host the core of the program in The Bahamas and continue to support the arts exchange in the community,” said Spears. “The cultural arts exchange is a key component for our programming, and continues to build the arts reputation of the Bahamian community.
Classes will be held in person with socially-distanced guidelines and also livestreamed on the ArtSea Dance website. The guest artist will teach class from an indoor venue or studio setting with COVID protocol and safety at the center of execution plans. They also hope to be able to host an outdoor socially-distanced and contact-free meet and greet to allow the guest artist to engage in person with students.
To continue building on the growth of ArtSea, Spears said they are looking to evolve the 2021 program by offering a hybrid master class series, which will allow them to keep students engaged, broadcast to a larger audience, and have teachers enjoy the Bahamian art experience.
“Over the year, we will bring a guest to New Providence for in-person classes, and in addition, livestream classes to a larger audience from The Bahamas. Guest teachers will host two to three classes, open to all ages. Each guest will specialize and focus in different genres and styles of dance.”
Spears said it is important for them to bring guest artists to the students to showcase the possibilities of dance as a professional career.
“This year, we plan on bringing a world-class teacher to The Bahamas for one day of intensive training to deepen the students’ passion for dance, and to begin to introduce them to a professional company environment. Students will have an authentic look into the discipline, diligence and focus it takes to succeed in the arts professionally. The core objectives of the program are to provide students with tools to build their self-confidence and give them applicable skills to use in the pursuit of a professional career in dance.”
Spears, a Bahamian-American dancer with The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater – one of the most celebrated modern dance companies in the world – will be hosting one of the four sessions. The date, time, and location will be released soon.
Through ArtSea, Spears’ mission is to bridge the gap between the dance community in the Caribbean and the arts world abroad.
“When I co-founded ArtSea Dance with Asa Cary, I had just started my own career with The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and was fortunate to graduate from college with a degree in dance and join a company that takes me all over the world. Throughout my own journey, I became increasingly aware of the village and support I had in manifesting my own dreams. ArtSea is my way of circling that love and support back into a community that has given me strong values, work ethic, and spirit of faith. And I see those same values in so many young dancers within The Bahamas. As I travel around the world, there is truly no feeling like pouring into the next generation of Bahamian artists. As we’ve been on this journey, I am always overwhelmed by the love and support from both communities in the United States and The Bahamas. It reassures me of our mission, to create a bridge between both worlds that is aimed at encouraging students to follow their dreams of dancing professionally.”
In only a few short years, ArtSea Dance has raised over $50,000 to produce workshops for students, which have included dance classes, body wellness, college preparation, and performances.
Through in-person classes and virtual platforms, Spears said ArtSea has engaged with over 400 students, most of them within The Bahamas, and has flown over 20 globally celebrated teachers and guests to The Bahamas to work with the program’s student body.
As she prepares to host this year’s ArtSea Dance, Spears encourages people to become a sponsor to “pour” into the future of the arts within The Bahamas by becoming a presenting sponsor at $5,000-plus, major sponsor at $2,500, or supporting sponsor at $1,000.