An adult movement class with a focus on wellness, a dance-focused class, and experience for anyone 18 and over who wants to move is the newest addition to the sixth version of ArtSea, one year after the dance program introduced its successful Mommy & Me class.
“ArtSea Lifestyle is for the parent, the doctor, the lawyer, business owner – anyone who loves to dance and move as a form of exercise and release,” said ArtSea founder Courtney Celeste Spears.
It’s a class that is open to men and women, and will feature a dance cardio, toning workout type of class taught by Spears. It will be followed by a wellness class, where participants can learn how to maintain a healthy lifestyle at home.
With the success of Mommy & Me from the first year, Spears said it’s a programing that will definitely be returning.
“There is something so special about seeing our youngest students with their parents and there was so much excitement.”
The Mommy & Me class and Lifestyle class will happen on Saturday, August 20, for a one-time session. ArtSea’s main programing will take place over the course of two days – August 20-21, ending in a showcase on August 21.
The ArtSea Lifestyle new addition sessions will be staged at The Island House.
Spears, who co-founded ArtSea with Asa Cary, executive producer, says they are excited to be hosting again.
“What excites us most for each year is really seeing the growth of our students, the growth of our community, and the growth of our teachers and volunteers.”
The Bahamian dance professional who dances with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, said she and Asa and Cary are dedicated to making ArtSea a consistent outlet for the youth.
“It’s so special to see the arts community, specifically the dance community come together in such a beautiful way every single year. We’ve seen students get taller, we’ve seen them grow older, and we’ve seen them absorb more and more each year. Every time that we come back it seems like they get more talented, more capable, and they believe in themselves more. The progress is what makes it really, really special.”
ArtSea’s main programing will conclude with a final showcase which allows parents to see what their students have learned; and the students get a chance to perform the choreography they learned over the weekend from the faculty.
Matthew Rushing, associate artistic director at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a mentor and colleague of Spears, will be at ArtSea this year, which she is excited about.
“I met him [Rushing] when I was 17 – and his dancing, his teaching, his coaching, has just inspired me in my career in every imaginable way. I know I wouldn’t be here without him so it’s very exciting to welcome him to The Bahamas.”
ArtSea will also be returning with two of their favorites in Dr. Sheyi Ojofeitimi, Alvin Ailey’s senior physical therapist and Hollie Wright.
Ojofeitimi will conduct a wellness workshop for students and adults. Wright who Spears likes to call the “sauce of the workshop”, and who was one of Spears’ jazz teachers, always brings exciting energy to the programing.
This year, they will also have local physiotherapist Codero Bonamy teach a wellness class; he is also the owner of Aktiv Body Rehab.
Dance and wellness are two staples of ArtSea’s programing
and can’t really exist without the other.
“We’re excited to bring back a full weekend filled with classes and sessions, and get as many people together as possible. We’ll be able to accommodate more students as well.”
Registration for ArtSea opens on Friday, July 15, for all programs.
Mommy & Me class is offered for children ages three to six. The regular workshop is for ages seven to 17. The Lifestyle class is for ages 18 and over.
Spears also encourages young men who are dance enthusiast to register.
“We’ve had a good amount of young men come and take our workshop, but we are always hoping to have more. Ocean Montesino is one of our stand out young men who’s been to almost every single ArtSea workshop. He’s a natural and has such a beautiful spirit. He’s a student of Robert Bain’s at the National Dance School. I watched him grow and want him and other young men to know that there is such a huge space for men in the arts for young men and dance.”
Six years in, Spears looks at Stemarcie Bain, who is preparing to head to college, as an ArtSea success story.
“I remember Stemarcie when she was 11 or 12 at our very first Artsea and I was just completely captivated by her movement and her determination. She was petite, but in the front and I was so amazed by her.”
Spears recalls her Ailey II performance and meeting Stemarcie, which happened even before she brought ArtSea to The Bahamas.
“She came to our first workshop and I have watched her grow immensely.”
Stemarcie, according to Spears, has received a number of offers, and has been accepted into The American Music & Dramatic Academy (AMDA) University in New York City.
“A crazy full circle moment is that next year we [Spears and Stemarcie] will be five to 10 blocks from each other on the same street in New York City. That’s what ArtSea is all about. It’s all about uplifting students and helping them follow their dreams. To know that when we met, she was a little girl in Nassau, and to know that we will be down the street from each other, her getting her college education started – and me at Alvin Ailey … just feels like God’s work.”
Spears said she can’t wait to see more students and that she wants to keep inspiring young dancers.
The cost for ArtSea’s workshop is $200 for seniors ages 13-plus, and $150 for juniors ages 12-plus.
The cost for Mommy & Me for ages three to 16 is $50. ArtSea Lifestyle for ages 18-plus is $40
Spears started ArtSea Dance in 2017 to bring a high level of art to The Bahamas through ArtSea, 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.
ArtSea’s 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 has previously said dance is the “beautiful vessel” she has been provided to be able to give back.