PHILIPSBURG – Almost 25 years ago, a group of seven St. Maarten dancers traveled to Jamaica, to take part in what would be a life transforming experience at the Cultural Training Center. This experience gave birth to the National Institute of Arts (NIA) 22 years later.
On the anniversary of that trip, a new generation of St. Maarten dancers, some 30 students and teachers will once again journey to Jamaica in July, for an intensive one-month immersion into the world of visual and performing arts at the Cultural Training Center, which is now the highly revered Edna Manley College for Visual and the Performing Arts, the only one of its kind in the Caribbean.
This school year, NIA has been pivotal in the coordination of the CXC dance subject at St. Dominic High, Charlotte Brookson Academy, and St. Maarten Academy high schools.
Led by Director Arlene Halley, students enrolled in dance as a CXC subject, have been engaged in the subject at the 3rd form level. Travelling to Jamaica will give them an in-depth understanding of the subject. Students will go on field trips, be exposed to dance and culture of the Caribbean, experience dance history, and practical hours of dance in modern, Caribbean folk and much more.
The 30 people travelling include NIA teachers Rudolph Davis, Clifford Henry, Kimberly Milan, Peggy Oulerich, Silvia Carty and Directors Halley and Clara Reyes. The one-month summer program is varied, offering dance, drama and visual arts to the students and the teachers.
Directors Halley and Reyes had travelled earlier in the year to Barbados, Jamaica and St. Kitts to explore the scope of the subject. They are proud to be pioneering agents in the collaboration with the three high schools in expanding the CXC choices in St. Maarten.