FOUNDER AND ARTISTIC DIRECTOR JAMAL CALLENDER PASSES LEADERSHIP TO COURTENAY THORNE AS ARTISTIC DIRECTOR DESIGNATE
Bridgetown, Barbados - July 1st, 2019 - Barbados Dance Project Inc. is pleased to announce Courtenay Thorne as Artistic Director Designate effective immediately. Founder and Artistic Director for the last five years Jamal Callender will remain an integral part of the leadership by providing assistant during the transitional period.
In addition, John Hunte will now serve as Executive Director and Stefanie Takei- Taylor as Associate Artistic Director of BDP.
Callender said “ Barbados Dance Project is and forever will be for Barbados. I am not stepping down but rather stepping to the side to allow more moments of greatness to happen for BDP with Courtenay at the helm. I am extremely honored to have been able to create an organization that has uplifted and shifted the landscape for dance and movement on the island. I will always be thankful to the many hands that helped bring BDP to the place it is today and I can only ask that everyone continues to nurture and care for this special gem. To my amazing students, fly high, no ceilings!. Keep exploring and keep moving, I will be watching.”
For the past 10 years, Jamal Callender has been a dynamic force for the Barbadian dance scene. Starting as a guest tutor for Dancin’ Africa, The Dance Place, Louise Woodvine Dance Academy and Dance Strides. He additionally was a guest tutor at NCF. In 2012 a grant from the US Embassy Bridgetown helped bring him to Barbados to host a series of dance workshops. In 2014, Callender made a bold decision to create Barbados Dance Project. BDP has set its mission to educate, collaborate and engage with the Bajan community through dance. BDP tuition-free summer dance program was the catalyst to help bring artistic excellence. To date, BDP has raised over $200,000 BDS for the summer intensive serving over 150 students offering a rigorous training experience including dance training, body wellness, Barbados dance history, seminars, and learning repertory from international dance tutors. Today, Barbados Dance Project incompases the summer dance intenisve, and an ensemble that trains and tours around the Caribbean region including recently Trinidad and Jamaica. BDP have performed in various venues throughout the island including EBCCI, Frank Collymore Hall, Combermere, Bluberry Beach Club among many other locations throughout the island. In 2018 Barbados Dance Project was named Dance group of the year from Gine On Magazine.
Callender continued, “The appointment of Courtenay Thorne as Artistic Director Designate is one I am very proud of. Since the beginning, Courtenay Thorne has been an instrumental part of BDP. As a student in the summer intensive, she took it upon herself to archive our progress which made her the social media coordinator. She was named one of the of the National Emerging Choreographic Lab participants creating a work for the summer intensive. Later, Courtenay returned to BDP to teach and to set work on the junior group. Courtenay has climbed the ladder and consistently is eager to learn more. Courtenay, like myself want to see Barbados be an example for dance in the Caribbean region.
Currently Courtenay is in a master’s program at Florida State University due to receive her MFA degree in Dance (Performance and Choreography) in 2021. While attending FSU the School of Dance has given her the opportunity to also teach ballet and contemporary dance forms at the institution. She previously received her bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College in 2012 where she majored in Dance (Performance and Choreography). While she was a student at Skidmore College, she had the opportunity to be tutored by members of The Martha Graham Dance Company, The Limon Dance Company, Battleworks Dance Company, Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company, New York City Ballet and many more. After graduating she taught, choreographed and had involvement with The University of the West Indies (Cavehill, Barbados), Barbados Community College, The Dance Place (Barbados), The National Cultural Foundation (Barbados) and many other schools and artists in Barbados.
In 2015 she was presented with the opportunity to attend Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, England, and in 2016 she received her Diploma in Dance Studies. After completing her studies in London she travelled to Japan where she was invited to teach and present her solo work alongside members of the Mikiyo Imai Dance Company and other artists.
Prior to starting her MFA at Florida State University she lived in Trinidad where she performed, taught, choreographed and collaborated. She has worked with The Caribbean School of Dancing, The Metamorphosis Dance Company, The University of Trinidad and Tobago, Elle InfiniTT and other artists and schools. It was at this time that she presented two more of her solo works, once at Jamaica Dance Umbrella and once at the COCO Dance Festival.
Her love of travel and eagerness to keep learning has led her to attend many dance intensives and festivals in North America, Canada, Trinidad, Hungary and Jamaica.
Courtenay searches to further develop and refine herself as an artist as she keeps advancing throughout her career. Her goal is to not only push for growth in herself but to also see growth within those around her and her community. She believes that collaboration and connecting artists and movers from all over the world plays a crucial part in developing oneself and one's community. She’s excited to start her new journey as the Artistic Director Designate of Barbados Dance Project and she is extremely thankful for the guidance, support and training that Jamal has offered her up to this point in her career. She hopes to continue to keep building the legacy that Jamal has started and to see the dance community in Barbados grow and flourish.
Born in the U.S. and raised in Barbados at a young age, Jamal began dancing at Ballet Tech and Brooklyn College Preparatory Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. He attended the Professional Performing Arts School/The Ailey School under the late Denise Jefferson, Restoration Dance Theatre and the Harlem School of the Arts. Jamal also attended Perry-Mansfield and Springboard Danse Montreal. A graduate from The Juilliard School in 09' under Lawrence Rhodes, he has worked with The Atlanta Ballet, Peridance Ensemble, Buglisi Dance Theater, Loni Landon Project, Formal Structure Inc., Hubbard Street II, Ballet Hispanico, and Kevin O'Day Ballett at National Theater Mannheim. In 2012, Jamal was awarded the prestigious Princess Grace Award in Dance. Theater credits include: CHICAGO (Fred Casely)-RMT. He has guest taught workshops all over the U.S. and internationally including summer intensives for Ballet Hispanico, New Orleans Ballet Association (N.O.B.A), the National Cultural Foundation (Barbados), and Institute of the Arts Barcelona (Spain), and MOVE(NYC) An advocate of the arts, he served as a member of Dance/NYC junior committee. Jamal is currently a soloist at the NationalTheater Mannheim (NTM TANZ) under Stephan Thoss.
ABOUT BARBADOS DANCE PROJECT
Barbados Dance Project is a grassroots, not-for-profit incorporation that aims to educate, collaborate, and engage with the Barbadian community through dance. Established in 2014 by 1st generation Barbadian-American Jamal Callender, the Summer Intensive and The Lab, along with BDP ensemble (a collective of energetically committed dancers training and performing throughout the year in Barbados and internationally) creates possibilities and promotes artistic excellence at its highest standard. Most recently, founder Jamal Callender was named 51 most inspiring young Bajans” by Barbados Today celebrating the nation’s 51st and BDP was named best dance group of 2018 by Gine on Magazine. To date, 8 international guest tutors have been a part of the program with extensive training from prestigious institutions such as The Juilliard School, The Ailey School, andBoston Conservatory and danced in companies such as Ballet Hispanico (New York), Trey McIntyre Project (Boise ID), National Theater Mannheim (Germany), Luna Negra Dance Theater (Chicago), Atlanta Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, GöteborgsOperans Danskompani (Sweden), The Company Dance Theatre (Jamaica), and New York Metropolitan Opera. Our past students have continued their studies at some of the world’s finest institutions including, Barbados Community College, University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, NYU Tisch, SUNY Purchase, Ryerson (Toronto), Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (Jamaica), Arizona University (USA), Trinity Laban (UK). Barbados Dance Project believes in the Bajan youth. With ongoing community support and contributions through donations, Barbados can create change and be the next international hub where dance can grow.