In a year that is challenging for most people, as they navigate the new normal brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, professional ballerina/dancer Courtney Celeste Spears is continually finding ways to continue to bring a high level of dance to the Bahamian community virtually, considering she was not able to host her annual in-person ArtSea Dance weekend summer convention this year.
Spears, a member of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and founder of ArtSea Dance, earlier this year teamed up with Asa Carey, ArtSea co-founder and executive producer, for a free ArtSea web dance series which took the magic of dance directly into their homes on Instagram Live in the early days of the pandemic.
Through the free series, she provided dancers with opportunities to still be able to learn and dance while “cooped” up at home. And now, the duo has come up with a new avenue to continue getting people to dance while social and physical distancing remains the norm, with “ArtSea After School Program: A Virtual Dance Experience”.
The dance experience takes place October 5 through December 4.
Students engage virtually with globally celebrated dance educators to learn the fundamentals of ballet, Horton and contemporary techniques.
Spears said they decided to host the virtual after school dance experience after numerous parents reached out desirous of some form of ArtSea program, seeing as the annual in-person dance experience was unable to be held this year.
“This year has been incredibly challenging for many, but has also shown us the resilience that we have as a people,” said Spears. “Many have had to overcome challenges in every facet of their lives, and it is not lost on us. As the school year starts, it is going to be challenging to find a new sense of normal in this ever-changing world. Many parents of our students reached out to let us know that they were interested in after school dance opportunities. The desire for some kind of an ArtSea program was resounding. The curriculum will be designed around building skills in both ballet and Horton styles. As always, we want to focus on building a universal vocabulary that will continue to push their understanding of global recognized fundamentals.”
The sessions which will be held weekly on Mondays and Wednesdays, and bi-weekly on Fridays, are open to pre-professional dancers (ages seven to 13) and professional dancers (ages 14 and over).
On Monday and Wednesday, sessions are 3:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. for pre-professional, and 5:15 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. for professional; bi-weekly Friday sessions are 3:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. for pre-professional, and 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. for professional.
The sessions are offered at a cost of $300 for eight weeks. Registration is at www.artseadance.org.
Spears has been bringing a high level of the dance art form to The Bahamas since she started ArtSea Dance in 2017, a weekend-long convention dedicated to helping aspiring young dancers cultivate their talent and recognize the potential in pursuing a professional dance career.
Through ArtSea, Spears’ goal is to be the bridge that connects artists of The Bahamas and the Caribbean to the vast dance world – whether it’s dancing in college to obtain a degree or dancing professionally.
Through the ArtSea avenue, Spears’ objective is to provide students with the tools to build their self-confidence, and to give them applicable knowledge in pursuing a professional dance career.
ArtSea is Spears’ way of reaching people. She previously told The Nassau Guardian that dance is the “beautiful vessel” she has been provided to be able to give back.