Have you ever ventured into or participated in something, not necessarily having the belief that you would actually be the overall victor? I’m sure you have. This year the Creative Industries Ministry introduced the Jèté Dance Competition, which saw Fundamentals emerging as the best dance crew on the island. The crew, whose members hail from Anse La Raye, is made of up Nilka Gonzague, Dexter Magloire, Shawis Wison, Emmanuel Seraphin and Brandon Gonzague.
Shawis, 25, who is the leader of the group, says that she was always interested in learning to dance.
“I always wanted to dance, I used to watch Dexter and Greenidge ‘Taxi’ Bishop dance on the streets all the time, and I always tried to imitate Michael Jackson. When I was probably 15 years old I went to a dance camp, where the organizers hosted a show and we had to dance. That was my first time on stage and I was nervous.”
Dexter, 31, is the oldest member of the group and one of the persons that Shawis looked up to as a dancer growing up.
“I started dancing when I was about 12 years old, watching the other boys in my primary school. They used to dance everyday during break, lunch and after school. I made sure that I went to their classroom to see them and when I went home I practiced on my own. Nobody knew I could dance until I started going out and people saw me through dance battles. As time went on, I met with my friend Lance; who could flip from anywhere, off anything. We liked each other’s styles, learnt from each other and soon started battling as a pair. We soon became ‘untouchable’ as persons came from all around the island specifically to battle Dexter and Lance. So I’ve been dancing basically my whole life.”
Nilka, 15, is a student of the Vide Boutielle Secondary School. Of the three members we chatted with, she had the least interest in dance.
“I was never a fan of dancing until I met Shawis and Neil Georges. I was a newspaper girl, helping my mom sell them around the village on Saturdays. And then one Saturday while passing by the parish hall I saw Shawis and Neil doing a folk dance. After observing for a while, I was about leaving when they asked me to come and try. From that point I continued and Neil introduced me to Youth On Fire Ministry, which gave me exposure and confidence to dance and that sort of thing.
Emmanuel and Brandon are both sixteen year olds who attend secondary school. They both are also members of the Youth On Fire Ministry.
The group Fundamentals was actually made official last year for the Jèté Dance Competition. They have had persons dropping in and out but are confident that the 5 of them will stick together.
“Before Jèté our current group were just basically friends. Nilka, Brandon and I used to dance with Youth On Fire and that was it. Dexter and Lance used to do their own thing. Dexter was part of the group before and rejoined for Jèté along with Emmanuel. During rehearsals Emmanuel used to come around and try the moves. He never danced before but he showed keen interest and we needed five persons for Jèté so he became our latest addition” explained Shawis.
Going into the competition, the group members admit that only Nilka was confident that they could actually get to the finals and be the overall victors.
“I had a dream that we would win . . .” said Nilka.
“But she always has ‘dreams’, so we never believed her or thought we would win,” Shawis interrupted her. “Honestly I didn’t think the idea of a group would work because I thought the group was made up of only break dancers who would be uncomfortable and unable to incorporate the other genres of dance into routines. That’s when the other group members dropped out and Emmanuel and Nilka came in. I was skeptical about Dexter too, but he assured me that he could do all types of dance.
“Coming up with the routines were not really a challenge, because I have danced at hotels, worked with guys like Richard Ambrose, watched dance videos online so it wasn’t too difficult. Any simple motion can be a dance move and can be incorporated as long as it is creative and the group makes it look good,” explained Shawis.
Now that Fundamentals have won Jèté they plan to partake in every dance competition in the future. At the moment they are working on getting gigs to perform at hotels and for national events. They are also working on sponsorship funds, which would go towards costumes for dances. They explained that they have no manager or choreographer.
“We’re a team, so we put our ideas together and everything falls into place,” they concluded.