The master prepares to dance

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater member Courtney Celeste Spears has taught master classes all around the world, and now she’s bringing that level of her mastery of the dance art form to The Bahamas with a one-day Master Class series.

Spears will host a one-day modern/contemporary class followed by choreography. The takeaway for participants will be more knowledge on the Horton technique which emphasizes a whole body, anatomical approach to dance that includes flexibility, strength, coordination and body and spatial awareness to enable unrestricted, dramatic freedom of expression; and how to learn choreography and more experience to prepare them for auditions.

“Dance at the professional level takes time, nuance and consistent practice to master – I want to share the skills that I’ve gained and continue to give back with the hopes that it propels our young dancers forward,” said Spears, a professional ballerina and dancer.

The brainchild behind the Master Class series is also the founder of ArtSea Dance, a weekend-long convention she stages in the summer with the objective to provide students with the tools to build their self-confidence and to give them applicable knowledge in pursuing a professional dance career. Artists participate in various genres of dance during the weekend. Through ArtSea, Spears strives to be the bridge that connects artists of The Bahamas and the Caribbean to the vast dance world. ArtSea is an outlet for young, talented artists to learn and grow within their craft.

Her upcoming Master Class series will provide an opportunity for all dance students within The Bahamas to come together and share their love of dance in one space. The Master Class series has the same goal of bridging the gap between the vast dance world abroad to the students within The Bahamas – the only difference being the amount of time and cost.

“I’m only able to be home for a couple of days, and I figured there would be no better way to share that passion and kick off the new year than to gather as many people together to learn. I also wanted to find a way to accommodate dancers who either couldn’t afford the full tuition in the summer or who couldn’t make it because of work during the day. I want dance, as an outlet, to be as available and tangible as possible, and that starts with having consistent classes to continually spread the knowledge.”

The Master Class series is open to people of all ages, with participants getting an opportunity to work intimately with Spears for an hour-and-a-half per session at the event to be held at Windsor Academy, Old Fort Bay, on Sunday, January 12.

Sessions are open to dancers of all levels, and will be held for participants aged eight to 13 between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. for participants 14-plus. Registration is $25.

“I want to open the door to all who have a true love and passion for dance,” said Spears. “Whether you train at a studio, participate in Junkanoo, or want to try your first class, I am looking for anyone who truly loves the art and wants to grow in their skills,” she said.

Spears, who is of Bahamian descent, said bringing the class to The Bahamas at this time is a testament to her passion for her work, and her even greater passion for spreading the true appreciation of dance as a career within The Bahamas.

Spears’ one-day Master Class series takes place as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater gears up for its 2020 tour which kicks off at the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, February 4 and runs through Saturday, May 10 with a performance at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark, New Jersey.

Spears was a former company member with Ailey II, and is currently a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

“I’ve been challenged in new ways, and I am constantly surrounded by some of the most beautiful dancers I’ve ever seen. This year has pushed me to new levels, and nothing feels better than sharing what I’ve learned with my home,” said Spears. “Moving into 2020, I want to continue in growing ArtSea into an organization that gives dance the platform it truly deserves within The Bahamas. I want to see our island curate a new generation of professional dancers. I want to see our country build a substantial performing arts center that hosts companies, orchestras and plays from around the world…maybe one day, even the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. [The year] 2020 shows true promise for change, and I will never stop the work to see it happen,” she said.

Registration for the Master Class series can be made online at www.artseadance.org.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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