International instructor praises abilities of dance students


The students in a souvenir photograph with Ms Owen and other local dance instructors

Sixty-six students took part in the examination, which was presided over by Gaynor Owen, a council member of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing which is the largest organisation of dancers in the world.

Surrounded by tiny little ballerinas in blue tutus and white tights, Ms Owen seemed to be in her element. Her energy and enthusiasm was reflected in the smiles of the young dancers around her, who happily posed for souvenir photos in the mirror-lined studio.

Ms Owen said this was the sixth time she had presided over the yearly dance examinations in Seychelles.
“I trained Daniella,” she said, referring to the head of programme at the School of Dance, Daniella Rose. “We run a dance college training teachers in England, and Daniella came to study under me for three years.”

“She’s having a big teaching exam later this afternoon,” said Ms Owen. “It has to be the last thing we do before leaving.”

The dance examiner said she was pleased at the overall levels of participation and high standards of teaching.

“The student numbers were very high when I first came. Then they went down a bit, but now the numbers have gone back up again.”

The School of Dance teaches classical ballet and modern dance, including jazz, up to advanced level and caters to a range of students of all ages.

Ms Owen says she believes that modern and classical dance can be relevant to a country like Seychelles, which already has a rich traditional local musical and dance culture.

“The girls are so beautiful and the children are so naturally rhythmic,” she said.”You just have to give them some music and they’re dancing away. It’s so wonderful.”

Ms Owen said many of the children had been interested in taking their dance careers further by training with her, and had become dance instructors themselves.

“Daniella was a good girl; she came back to the Seychelles and gave back what she had learned. We need more dance students to come back to Seychelles and give that knowledge back to future generations.”

The veteran dance instructor said when dancers come to her training college in Liverpool, they learn all the forms of dance, including ballet, modern, tap, contemporary dance as well as things like hip-hop and street.

“They learn everything, so that when they come back they are armed for anything and everything. They can do national dances from all over the world – in fact the only thing they haven’t got on the syllabus is your local Creole dancing, which is something we are still fighting for.”

In closing, Ms Owen said she was very satisfied to see the high level of support for the arts offered by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture in Seychelles.

“I’m very happy about the approach in the Seychelles towards the arts,” she said. “In some countries, it’s not a priority at all, but here they really welcome the arts, which is wonderful. The fact that children learn music from an early age really boosts their dancing capabilities.”