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Kieron Sargeant has been a dancer for more than 20 years and a choreographer for almost a decade. He has been a theatre arts teacher in the principle of dance at the Pleasantville Secondary School for the past nine years.
The 32-year-old's love and passion for dance combined with education, drove him to explore the art form even further when he enrolled in the certificate course in dance education at UWI St Augustine Campus. This set the stage for his entry into the Bachelor of Arts in Dance programme. He is enjoying the fruits of his labour, taking dance wherever he goes. The Sunday Guardian caught up with the busy dancer who is currently abroad studying and he shared with us his journey.
Where exactly are you from in south Trinidad?
Lady Hailes Avenue, San Fernando.
When was it that you realised your passion for dance? What drew you to it?
I realised I had a passion for dance after looking at my sisters Marissa and Stacy Sargeant in dance rehearsals and going home and showing them the steps for dance in our living room.
Men in dance and artistic sports are stereotypically labelled. Did you experience any negative criticism and if yes, how did you deal with it as a male dancer?
Yes. Men who dance face many different stereotypes and negative connotations brought upon by people of society who look at male dancers as weak, effeminate, and lesser of a man. A culmination of stereotypes has been accumulated through the span of the 20th century associating male dancers as less masculine and homosexual. I never allow the words of society to phase me, every time someone attacked me verbally I used to go home and say my prayers and ask God for protection to continue this journey as a dancer.
You seem to have done some extensive travel and dance has opened doors for you. How important would you say it is to have dance on the school curriculum and not just as an extra curricular activity?
Dance is now an examinable subject up to CAPE level in the secondary schools. Dance is important in schools because it can help restore joy and stability in troubled lives and ease the tensions in schools that are disrupted by violence and bullying. Dance education also has important benefits for students' social relationships, particularly among genders and age groups. Many forms of dance, including ballroom, are inherently social. They involve moving together in synchrony and empathy, with direct physical contact. Dance has economic benefits, too. As well as being a field of employment, dance promotes many of the personal qualities that employers recognize as essential in a collaborative, adaptable workforce.
It can also give you opportunities to travel the world and showcase our culture and folk heritage.
Who are you inspired by?
Firstly, mom for the way in which she raised me inspires me. She taught me to be selfless. Locally, in terms of dancing I am inspired by Gregor Breedy. He is someone I look up
to as choreographer and dancer coming up in the Best Village circle as a young dancer. His choreographic work always appeared real in a sense that there was always something you can relate his work to, whether the environment, society or an interpretative/abstract piece based on a particular theme. Internationally, I am inspired by Jawole Willa Jo Zolla. Her 1995 “Batty Moves” is one of my favourites.
Can you describe your greatest dance piece to date? And tell us why you deem it your greatest dance piece?
My greatest dance piece was done just two months ago at Florida State University, School of Dance Ensemble. The name of the piece was titled “Un Regard Sur Haiti” performed by Metamorphosis Dance Company. It was a piece where I spent a lot of time investigating the history of Haiti and finding a unique Caribbean folk dance vocabulary with modern and contemporary lines to tell the story and also to find my voice as choreographer to speak about a work independently. It was challenging for me choreographically, in how I would stage that piece of history from a country that had so many disasters but still conveys a feel of resilience which was my main objective to the subject of the choreographic work.
Do you hope to one day open your own dance academy?
Currently I have my own dance agency which tour extensively throughout the year, mainly to European countries showcasing our cultural heritage. It is a work in progress.
Share with us the dance styles you major in.
Folk dance and contemporary dance. These two dance genres help me create the aesthetic fabrics I want to produce on the stage that is uniquely Kieron Dwayne Sargeant.
With everything that's happening in T& T—the high levels of crime, domestic violence etc, how can dance be used to speak and translate social messages of upliftment and activism against these negative noises?
We live in a time where crime and other criminal activities have plagued our lands and is openly exposed to our children. Dance can be used as both a therapeutic and sociological medium that can allow our children to shift their focus in a more positive direction. Therapeutically dance focuses on expression through movement, allowing that child to convert how they may feel about life and the challenges they face into movement and artistry. From a sociological standpoint it fosters the building of interpersonal skills through techniques and choreographic methods such as the duet, contact improvisation, trios, and the trust method. This allows for continuous interaction and team effort thus allowing that child to express feelings to another in a non-violent way.
How has dance built you on a personal and professional level?
Like any other forms of training dance is a discipline; one with structure and format that seeks to build an individual through its methods and techniques. Dance stands at the peak of my development on both a personal and professional level.
Personally it has taught me that I should approach all aspects of my life with an open mind. It has built my character and levels of self-control and confidence. Professionally I have developed a level of tact in my interactions with clients as well as my approach to performance. It has assisted with punctuality, determination and vision, and my ability now to strive to give my best always.
Tell a young person why they should not give up on a future in dance?
If dance is your passion then go for it. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a passionate dancer perform. It's like the lilies in the spring. There is much to be gained from a career in dance. It ranges from educational involvement to national representation. You have the chance to build a legacy to continue preserving while passing on our rich cultural traditions, making a contribution to national development from a cultural standpoint.
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