Young ones in dazzling performance at Evening of Classical Dance and Music By Riane de Haas-Bledoeg
Guyana Chronicle
December 14, 2003

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ONE hundred and twenty young talents told their Christmas tale in a fascinating and dazzling performance of classical dance and music in the Cara Inn Auditorium, Pere Street, Kitty, on the evening of Sunday, December 7, 2003.

This event was the result of close collaboration between the Ballet School and the Guyana Music Teachers' Association and two months of intensive preparation.

The young dancers and musicians in the five to 25 age group presented to an audience of about 200 persons, the beautiful message of Christmas: love, joy and sharing.

Last Sunday, a varied programme of artistic performances, ranging from ballet to piano, flute, clarinet, vocals and steel pan, was presented through works from great composers like Handel, Schubert, Boccherini, Bizet, Haydn and Beethoven.

The Evening of Classical Dance and Music was held under the theme Young Talents Tell Their Christmas Tale. It was a breath-taking cultural experience. Eleven adorable little ballerinas of The Ballet School, dressed in white and red dotted leotards, layers of white tulle and red flower hair-bands, entered the stage in a lively 'Joy to the World' arrangement of the famous pianist and promoter of New Age music, David Lanz. Six other ballet performers, in the age-group seven to eight years, and dressed in sparkling yellow and gold, swiftly followed the beginners group in the classical Menuet from the Italian cellist and composer, Luigi Boccherini, who lived between 1743 and 1805.

Young musicians, then took over the stage with the West Ruimveldt Boys Choir presenting their 'Someday at Christmas', followed by a series of individual piano, vocal and flute performances, ranging from popular sounds of 'O Tannenbaum', 'Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas' to the more classical 'Für Elise' from Beethoven, 'The March of the Three Kings' from Bizet and 'Serenade' from Haydn, the latter performed by the Marian Academy's Recorder Group.

After a 15-minute intermission, the programme proceeded with The Ballet School performers presenting their ballet skills through a series of pliés, relevés, pas de bourrées and pirouettes on the music of George Frideric Handel's Harp Concerto and Franz Schubert's Ave Maria.

The audience, by then, fully into the Christmas spirit, was generously treated with performances by the Marigold Junior Choir, clarinet, piano and vocal solos and duets, and steel pan music from the Parkside Steel Combo.

The Master of Ceremonies, Mrs. Renee Peroune, efficiently guided the programme throughout the evening and handed over the Vote of Thanks to Mr. William Pilgrim, President of the Guyana Music Teachers' Association. All performers, instructors from both The Ballet School and the Guyana Music Teachers' Association, parents, support in the various aspects of organising the event, ranging from ballet costumes, dressing room assistance to stage decoration and transportation, were acknowledged for their contribution in this successful cultural performance.

The evening reached its climax with a dashing Christmas Dance, performed by the entire Ballet Cast and was completed with the finale stage appearance of all performers. In the end, performers, organisers and audience, all went home with the joyful spirit of Christmas after a wonderful and exciting Evening of Classical Dance and Music.

For generations, art, and more specifically dance and music, have been considered, by many parents, an integral part in the education of their youngsters. This type of education introduced at an early age, teaches youngsters about personal discipline and also to appreciate and enjoy this aesthetic art. Dance and music are not only forms of expression, but can also improve the life and performance capabilities of individuals in many areas.

However, it appears that, nowadays, this type of education is losing its place in the educational curriculum. Many schools, parents and students are focusing their efforts more on academic performance, with long hours solely spent on additional lessons in subjects like Mathematics, Information Technology, Language and Science, and preparing for exams.

There is, in general, also a lack of interest among our younger generation to pursue the art of classical dance and music. Children, nowadays, prefer to spend hours on a computer, watching television and videos and playing video games, rather than enjoying a performance of classical dance and music or, even less, being engaged in mastering the skills of ballet or playing a music instrument.

It is fortunate that there are still teachers and parents of the view that our younger generation should receive the opportunity of being exposed to these wonderful areas of art. Convinced of this need, institutions like The Ballet School and the Guyana Music Teachers' Association, have, despite insufficient support of governmental and private sectors, persevered in their efforts for dance and music education.

The Ballet School started under the supervision of Georgia Harry - Jimenez, a Cuban-Guyanese ballerina and classical dance teacher, at the studio facilities of Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel, in 2001. This initiative was encouraged by a group of parents as a result of the lack of dance schools specialised in ballet.

The School has provided for two years now, dance training based on the principles of Classical Dance. The total number of students stands at 25 in 2003. There are currently four levels: level 1 with beginners: 6 years and younger, level 2 juniors: 7-8 years, level 3 intermediate: 9 years and older, and level 4 advanced: 12 years and older.

The Guyana Music Teachers' Association was established in April 1948 as the British Guiana Music Teachers' Association. It was formed out of a need to ensure that music teachers in Guyana had access to the most up-to-date information on music teaching. In 1966, after Independence, the name was changed to the Guyana Music Teachers' Association.

The first President of the Association was Ms. Lynette Dolphin. The current President at the GMTA's 55th anniversary is Mr. William Pilgrim. The current membership stands at 46.

During its 55 years of existence, some major achievements of the Association were: the promotion and sponsoring of local concerts, collaboration with Embassies and High Commissions to bring in celebrated international performers to Guyana, the organisation of music workshops, contributions to the Guyana Music Festival held on a biennial basis between 1952 and 1973, the annual production since 1985 of the Young Musicians on Stage, the latter giving the music-loving public an indication of the potential talent of the future.

The Guyana Music Teachers' Association closely collaborates with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in securing a high level of quality in music teaching and music examinations with internationally recognised diplomas. Members of the Association have given community service through assisting schools and church choirs and providing music, including original compositions, to groups and institutions. Many of the National songs heard and sung today were composed by former and present members of the Association.