Through the years with Sheron Trotman
How long have you been involved in dance?
For over 25years.
When did you start dancing, and who inspired you?
When family members would ask me to do “de strongman” for anyone visiting my home. I then started structured training briefly with The Yoruba Center and full time with The Barbados Dance Center around the age of 15 years. Supposedly I always danced.
What have you acomplished through those years?
Currently, I’m the founder, artistic director and principal of Dance Strides Barbados.
I trained at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, New York.
I’m a member of the International Dance Council CID-UNESCO, Paris, France.
I’m a member of the International Association of Blacks in Dance, USA.
I taught and choreographed extensively from primary to tertiary level, both regionally and internationally, including tutoring in New York and at Howard University, Washington, DC.
I continue to teach specialised techniques while working as co-administrator for the Pearl E. Primus Video Documentation.
I performed in South Africa, England, the USA and throughout the Caribbean, and did dance research in Egypt, Senegal, Mali, Timbuktu and Goree Island.
Any role models? Who would you want to emulate?
The late Dr. Pearl E. Primus and the late Dr. Sherrill Berryman Johnson continue to be my role models, my source of strength and spiritual backing. I would emulate them because of what they shared, thought and left behind for me to build on and grow from.
Trace the progression of dance from 20 years ago to now – what was the high point? Low point?
Dance had been seen as an extra curricular activity in the past, and I sense that even though there is still that mindset for some persons, there continues to be gradual change.
In my primary years of dance, the artform was mainly sought after for social reasons. But what I always found present was that passion and spirit for dance. Hence, there exists a high level of commitment and respect for the artform. For example, punctually – seeing a rehearsal or performance process through to completion and respecting an artistic director or choreographer’s work and leadership.
In recent times, because we now live in a technological era, dance is suffering, because passion, perseverance and commitment are not as evident and the desire for instant results with minimum effort is the norm.
There is a tremendous wealth of talent and potential in Barbados, and what will make that talent amount to something worth acknowledging, is if the owners of that raw talent were to have the desire to acquire proper and ongoing training and correct knowledge of the art form; understand that it is an ongoing learning process and that it is not beneficial or acceptable to regurgitate the work of others.
Compare street dance to modern dance.
There are more similarities than differences. One difference is that Street Dance tends to attract more males, while Modern Dance attracts more females. This difference is most likely and partially due to the origins of the two dance forms.
Comment on the various genres – how have they evolved?
Dance has become a much more varied and experimental artform which is an incredible happening; in the dance world, it is now the norm for choreographers to incorporate elements of the many genres when they create a piece.
Comment on the importance of dance to Bajan culture. Which direction would you take dancing to preserve it? What traits do you see at your dance school?
Dance as an artform serves as a medium of cultural and social development; it encourages creative expression of our culture and can earn foreign exchange to assist the economy.
One sure way to preserve dance is through education with not only the technical teachings, but through sharing the origins and history of dance. Seeing the need to preserve dance was one of my primary reasons for making Dance Strides Barbados a reality.
Our students are typical of the present era wanting instant results. We maintain balance by insisting on certain basic principles.
Should dance be part of the educational curriculum?
Dance is a part of the educational curriculum. Is it officially in primary and secondary schools? I am still uncertain. There is dance at CXC, an Associate Dance degree at the Barbados Community College and dance as a part of a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.
What in your opinion makes a great dance production?
When I leave the venue with my adrenaline pumping, wanting “more” but accepting that that was all I needed to feed and fill me up until….A great dance production is also one where the performers speak to the audience with their bodies not only to entertain but to educate as well.
What has dancing done for you personally/professionally. What are some of the pitfalls/drawbacks/dangers?
Dance has instilled and reinforced a great sense of honesty and integrity in me both personally and professionally. It has allowed me to continually work on maintaining my focus, a true and strong sense of self, and an awareness of physical self.
As with any other physical activity, each individual must understand his/her instrument (the body), know the limitations and work on strengthening and securing weak areas as well as maintaining the strong areas. The best results in dance come if there is a holistic approach, where the mind, body and spirit are worked as a whole.
How would you channel young people’s interest in dance?
By exposing them to as much as I can make accessible to them, through sharing my life altering and extensive travels and experiences with them, through exchange programmes; teaching them to understand their bodies and their craft and letting them have the experiences of working with distinguished artists in the field.
What would you want to be your legacy?
That those persons who have allowed me to share my knowledge, experiences and life with them through dance, to pass on that high level of commitment, integrity, honesty and discipline to others who follow after them whether in the field of dance, in the workplace or in the home. (MH)