The Caribbean School of Dancing

a brief history



The Caribbean School of Dancing, or Caribbean School, as it is popularly known, was founded by Marcia Moze in January 1957. Classes were held at the Overseas Forces Club on Queen’s Park East. In 1958, the school moved to Dundonald Street and students were first entered for the prestigious Royal Academy of Dancing exams held in Trinidad and administered by London. The first school production, entitled Dance Little Lady was held in the following year.

In 1967 Patricia Roe, a former pupil, returned and joined the teaching staff and has been teaching ever since. Many prominent Trinidad and Tobago dancers at home and abroad still boast of being taught by a bevy of world-class instructors, not the least of whom is the legendary Miss Roe. In 1972 the Joanne Decle School of Dance merged with the Caribbean School of Dancing and the school acquired two studios on Cipriani Boulevard. Former students who returned home and joined the staff either full-time or part-time include Carol La Chapelle, Noble Douglas, Claire Evelyn and Diane Bovell.

In 1976 the school moved to its present location at 2A Dere Street and a third studio was added. An East branch had also been established in the late sixties, and is now located at Anderson Street, Curepe. That same year, feeling the need to give talented senior students the opportunity to showcase the technique and performing qualities taught in the dance studio, the school formed The Performing Dance Company. The company gave annual performances for five years before it folded due to a lack of funds. When Marcia Moze migrated in 1982, Patricia Roe and Joanne Decle assumed the responsibility of running the school.

The school continues to strive for a high standard and can boast of having "given birth" to many world-class dancers who have performed or are still performing in all corners of the globe. Past students have performed in Trinidad and Tobago, the wider Caribbean, North and South America and Europe with distinction. Many have achieved soloist status in their respective dance companies. These include Roger Shim – Royal Winnipeg Ballet (Canada) and later the Geneva Ballet (Switzerland); Rachel Ganteaume – Joffrey Ballet (New York); Paul Dennis – The Limón Dance Company (New York); Celisse Johnson – Brooklyn Dance Company (New York); Natalie Rogers – The Garth Fagan Dance Company (New York); Peter London – The Martha Graham Company (New York); Solange Sandy – The Alvin Ailey Dance Company (New York), Nadine Mose – Ballet Hispanico and Elisa Monte Dance Company (New York), Ronald Taylor - Dance Theater of Harlem (New York), Terry Springer – Coreoarte (Venezuela). Zara Bartels, Camille Fitzworme, Alan Balfour, Maggie Cooper - Lion King (Europe), Fana Fraser - Ailey II (New York), Gary de Matas and Stephanie Laughlin. Many of these graduates return to conduct master classes for current students.

In addition, Caribbean School has spawned several prominent dance teachers and choreographers on the local and international scene. These include Carol Yip Choy, Roxanne Fung, Jeffrey Carter, David Byer, Cathy-Ann Gibbon, Penelope Kalloo, Christel de Souza, Noble Douglas, Michelle Mose, Claudia Applewhaite, Esther Villaroel, Ann Paula Bovell-Bibby, Nancy Herrera, Sonja Dumas, Heather Henderson-Gordon, Bridgette Wilson, Francesca Vazzana-Williams, Sharlene George and Shari Rhyner. In all, many students who had their first formal training at the Caribbean School of Dancing have gone professional in their dance careers.

The Caribbean School has always held the dual philosophy of training students at the highest levels of ballet and of exposing the students to the wider world of the arts in Trinidad and Tobago. As a result, collaborations between artists have been an ongoing exercise for a number of years. In the early days, there was a close association with Carlisle Chang, The Light Operatic Society, The Trinidad Dramatic Club and Dimanche Gras under the direction of Errol Hill. Additionally, the school has worked with 1992 Nobel Laureate for Literature Derek Walcott, as well as with artist Henri Telfer, leading choreographers Astor Johnson and Noble Douglas, Caribbean music legend André Tanker, master Carnival designer Peter Minshall, impresario Aubrey Adams, composer Roger Israel and designers John Christopher, Margaret Sheppard and Robert Las Heras. Students from the Caribbean School of Dancing are also featured in performances under the direction of Pat Bishop with the Lydian Singers.

The school continues to encourage students to perform for their academic schools, places of worship and other groups to which they belong, in order to broaden their performance skills and to continue to bring dance to the wider community. In 1994, the school dance company was revived with the name Metamorphosis. In 1995, the newly revived company gave its first full-length performance at Queen’s Hall.

The school offers classes in Ballet (Royal Academy of Dancing syllabus), Modern, Tap and Jazz (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance syllabus), and Graham technique, and continues to collaborate with a diverse group of artists for workshops and special projects.

In 2006, the school began it celebrations of its 50th anniversary year with a school show in November. In 2007 Metamorphosis celebrated the school with its 2007 season called Tribute in July, and a joyous gala event with visiting alumni from all over the world was held at the historic Little Carib Theatre in December 2007. Click here for the landmark Tribute brochure. (2.8 Megs)