Being one of the original members of the Barbados Dance Project family as well as one of the first participants in Jamal’s earlier workshops I can say from experience that the work he is doing in Barbados is life changing for any artist who has the opportunity to train under his tutelage. As a professional dancer and choreographer who has trained in many places around the world I know how costly a dance intensive of this caliber can actually be, so to have it TUITION FREE right here at home is a blessing.
I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Jamal more over the years as I have worked with him, and becoming part of the administration of the Barbados Dance Project I have witnessed the amount of blood, sweat and tears he puts into this project. Better yet, I have the honor of being able to look up to him and call him my mentor.
His passion for arts education is very apparent and the effect he has on each BDP member stays with them throughout the year until the next summer when we all come together again.
“ Do not allow yourself to be mediocre, always be ready, push yourself way past what you think is possible, work together as a team”, are just some of the messages that are instilled in the participants as they train together during the summer. These messages then stay with them year round as they continue their artistic journeys after BDP is over.
I can say that I personally keep Jamal’s mantra of “mediocrity is a sin” at heart whenever I am dancing, choreographing or teaching. This mantra was especially repeated over the past year as I trained in London and made my debut performance as an internationally touring solo artist in Japan. It is still repeated as I go on to teach, perform, choreograph and collaborate with different artists all over the world.
To have someone to look up to as inspiring as Jamal Callender is not something I take for granted. To be able to have a mentor who has had the experiences he has acquired up to this point and who makes himself available to help guide you through your artistic journey is a true blessing. A blessing I hope to pass down to my own students as I continue to work, grow and gather new experiences. Jamal is truly an inspiring artist, what he does changes lives. I cannot thank him enough for all he has done for me and for the Barbados dance community.
We must all make sure we stick together to keep the Barbados Dance Project going! This opportunity to train and work with professional artists (tuition free) must stay available for the upcoming Bajan artists. The connections that are being created as well as the experiences being had will help shape and progress our artistic community into something really amazing.
Let’s help keep this going!