Twelve In-Service teachers graduate dance course

The Unit of Allied Arts hosted a graduation ceremony at the Theatre Guild for the first batch of graduates from the In-Service Teachers Dance Course. The Dance Course involved 12 teachers from Nursery, Primary, and Secondary schools across Region Four. This course will add to the growing core of teachers who are trained in the Arts.

The Dance Course was held at the National School of Dance and began on June 7, 2022, and concluded on February 3, 2023. The teachers were exposed to a total of 300 hours of course content in theoretical and practical activities including modern dance & cultural forms.

The core courses were Dance Fundamentals, Dance Improvisation/Dance Making, Methodology, Music for Dance, and Safe Dance Practice. The teachers were required to perform teaching practice which ensured the teachers prepared lesson plans and teach dance to a group of learners.

The instructors were Shirley Inniss-Dance Coordinator at the Unit of Allied Arts, Vivienne Daniel-Director of the National Dance Company, Linda Griffith-Director of the National School of Dance, Omena Ali-NCN, Andrea Mentore-ABRSM Guyana and Paula Alexander-Physiotherapist.

The graduating teachers were:

1. Saffina Daniels – Timehri Nursery

2. Angela Layne – Clonbrook Nursery

3. Odessey Pieters – Martyr’s Ville Nursery

4. Tiana Thornhill – Kuru Kururu Nursery

5. Onika Allen – Eccles Primary

6. Saskia Sparman  – Timehri Primary

7. Olicka Barton-Chichester – Peter’s Hall Primary

8. Erica Barkie – Covent Garden Secondary

9. Renita Dindyal – Annandale Sec.

10. Marcelle Griffith – Friendship Sec.

11. Jonnel Simon – President’s College

12. Nikita Wilson-Husbands – Golden Grove Secondary

The teachers treated the small audience with 4 well-presented Dance items. Two of the dance items were representative of two cultural forms (Indian and African) and two were representative of modern dance. 

Present at the graduation ceremony was Mr. Mark Roberts who represented the office of the Deputy Chief Education Officer-Technical. In giving his remarks, Mr. Roberts congratulated the teachers for their success and impressed on them the need to use this training as an impetus to create waves of change in this education system as it relates to Dance Education.

He expressed that dance can be used as an art form that will touch the lives of many students. If promoted and supported Dance will influence children in the right way. Also, in Guyana, we are rich culturally, with six ethnic groups, so this gives us a great deal to work with as teachers. In closing Mr. Roberts urged the teachers to dream big but also to be disciplined so that they may achieve those goals.

Tiana Thornhill and Jonnel Simon were two of the teachers who provided the audience with brief reflections on the dance course. Tianna expressed that she initially did everything to get her name off the list of teachers for the course, but with the encouragement of her husband, she fought her fears and participated in the course. And thanks to the support she received from her fellow batchmates and instructors she fell in love with dance and now has a very different feeling about the activity.

Jonnel shared similar sentiments and explained that the course is not an easy one since it has a diverse course outline and is very physically demanding. She was happy to know that investments were being made within the arts.

The New Head of the Unit of Allied Arts, Mr. Nicholas Fraser, reminded teachers that skills and knowledge are much more valuable when shared and thanked the participants and their families for the hard work they put in throughout the sometimes-grueling dance course. He added that the hard work was very evident in the quality of the performances of the teachers.

The Unit of Allied Arts will seek guidance from the CTVET in relation to developing an Occupational Standard for Dance, which will be the first of its kind in CARICOM. As such some urgent improvements will be made before the commencement of the next In-Service Dance Course.