In 1978, Jamaican dancer/choreographer, L’Antoinette Stines, founded Miami’s first, primarily black dance company, L’Acadco. Returning to Jamaica in 1982 she continued to grow with her company and together they have become dynamic ambassadors for Jamaican culture. L’Acadco’s mission is to present the rhythms of the Caribbean people on the world stage.
Next week, L’Acadco – A United Caribbean Dance Force satta has a diverse membership which includes dancers, drummers, stilt walkers, and fire blowers from across the Caribbean. week L’Acadco will be hosting PASSION:fruits, a celebration of timeless L’Acadco works. This show will be held at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, U.W.I Mona from Thursday April 30th 2009 to Saturday March 2nd 2009.
We talk to the company founder and artistic director L’Antoinette Stines…
YE: Why are you an artist/dancer and when did you first become one?
L’Antoinette: I regard myself as both having danced with many dance companies. I am a choreographer, creator of L’Antech the first Anglo Caribbean Modern Contemporary Technique and I sometimes perform with the company, so I guess I am an artist.
YE: How would you describe your work?
L’Antoinette: Innovative and eclectic, an exciting blend of Jamaica, Caribbean and Europe which is the reality of Caribbean culture.
YE: What type of dance do you do?
L’Antoinette: Jazz, classical ballet, traditional, contemporary and African dance.
YE: How did L’Acadco get started and what was your vision for the company?
L’Antoinette: L’Acadco had two beginnings. The first was in Miami, Florida. The vision was to bring together the tri-ethnic communities of Spanish, African-American and Caucasian. The second was in Jamaica with a totally different intention to present contemporary dance with a new voice, fresh and valid interpretations of the Jamaican landscape.
YE: What artists/dancers have influenced you and how?
L’Antoinette: The Cuban Contemporanea and Eduardo Rivero have had the most impact on my artistic identity today. Through their work I came to realize that we can perform contemporary dance remembering who we are as a people so that when the curtain opens there is no confusion that we are Jamaican.
YE: What other interests do you have outside of dance?
L’Antoinette: I am an avid reader as a PhD candidate at the University of the West Indies in Cultural Studies. My interest is doing intense research on the cultures of people especially the Caribbean.
YE: What inspires you to keep motivated when things get tough?
L’Antoinette: I am inspired by the Divine Energy of the Universe the “Godhead” as I strongly believe we are given our talents to reach people and to testify about being given that talent. Not using it is abusing it.
YE: How would people who know you describe you?
L’Antoinette: I am told that I should give up dance and become a comedian. Some would say I am intense, others would say I am fun loving and others might say she is a “Hitler” when it come to discipline and hard work.
YE: Who are some dance companies and or dancers that you admire?
L’Antoinette: I admire Phoenix dance company in Liverpool, Alvin Ailey Company, The Cuban Contemporanea, The Eduardo Rivero Caribbean Dance Company, Kariamu Welsh -Tradition.
I love many dancers it is difficult to name them. I always however admired and still believe that Jamaica’s divas are Patsy Rickets and Barry Moncrieffe.
YE: What have been your greatest challenges? Rewards?
L’Antoinette: My greatest challenge is my greatest reward and that is bringing up my children to be successful, functional citizens. My first son graduated from NYU with a Bachelors degree, did his four years in the U.S Army and received many accolades and will graduate from law school in December. My second son Aaron Vereen graduated from Noyam Institute in Ghana Africa as a master drummer, dancer and now performs with Roots Underground and teaches children and adults and is the musical director of L’Acadco and my daughter is now about to sit her CSC exams and is a Senior dancer in L’Acadco. They are my challenges and my successes.
YE: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
L’Antoinette: I intend to travel the world and teach about the rich culture of Jamaica as an ambassador. This is why I have pursued a PhD.
YE: How would you describe the state of the dance world in Jamaica?
L’Antoinette: Rich, vibrant. This is the dance capitol of the Caribbean in competition with New York. There are many dance companies, junior companies, kids who dance for JCDC festival competition. Dance, however needs to be funded by government.
YE: Tell us about the season this year…what can we expect?
L’Antoinette: L’Acadco has brought to the stage memories of the 25 years. Three of the dances HIGH, SATTA AND HAVE YOU EVER BEEN THERE? were staged 25 years ago. The others Divine Unity had it’s world premier in Canada to rave reviews. New choreography just for this celebration are Step by Step, Killing me Softly and Passion.
Exciting guest choreographers are Barbara Ramos-Caballero- Lead dancer for the Eduardo Rivero Company Santiago Cuba, Onaje Bell known for his interesting jazz and hip hop flavour, Arsenio Andrade from Havana, Cuba who is known as a principal dancer with the NDTC and Kysha Patterson, a young choreographer whose cutting edge choreography audiences find very exciting.