Creola is an exhilarating blend of techniques and styles, from ballet, modern, folk, jazz, tap, hip hop, fitness and more; derived from the word Creolisation (a word used to evoke cultural fusion and the emergence of new cultures) across the globe. Creola is our Caribbean identity; as observed in the many variations and adapted principles from the primary genres of most dance styles across the region. These unique adaptations and blends have formed one of the essential norms of the Caribbean culture. The genesis of sophisticated dance is dated from as far as the late 16th century, mostly in the European Continent, with Jehan Tabourot defining courtly dances such as the ballroom, subsequently to first creations of theatrical ballet by the Italian-Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx, which later influence the classical forms of ballet.
Later in the early 1900s, American dancers Isadora Duncan and Loie Fuller liberated themselves from the stringent and exacting laws of classic ballet thus metamorphosising the dance style, ballet, to a more natural, simple, spontaneous movement known as the modern dance. This became widely accepted in the American continent, and birthed new approaches and unique peculiarities of dance techniques as those from Martha Graham, Charles Weidman, Lester Horton to name a few. In the 1910, the Austria-Hungary, Rudolf Laban, created a new form of movement Ausdrucktanz (expressive dance). He founded schools in many European cities and was very active in Germany and devolved a system of dance notation. With the cross-fertilisation between ballet and modern dance, new forms of expression were being developed in the USA such as jazz, tap, rock, hip hop, ballroom to name a few.
In the Caribbean region, dance forms were developed by the African to the beat of drums, being influenced by their French, British and Spanish colonisers courtly dances. The Africans imitated these dances, adding their own uniqueness, giving way to yet many more modifications of dance expressions mostly found using wide skirts accompanied by the beat of drums, such as the Gran Belle identified through out the Caribbean. From observation and the research on the various ancestors which comprise the Caribbean culture, most, if not all of the dances practiced in the Caribbean has been influenced by a large world, which suggests that holistically, dance in the region may not embody any one authentic approach to dance, but more so an adaptable, relevant and distinctive way of expression, unique to the culture.
To date, as a Caribbean people, our dance is influenced by the broad terms ballet from the Europeans, modern and all its free style alterations from the Americans, African and Indian ideologies from our Caribbean ancestors who settled on the islands as slaves and indentured labourers. Fortunately, I have been trained and taught all those styles and techniques and was inspired to create an innovative technique, utilising all these forms. Consequently, in 2003, my choreography showcased a variety and fusion of various dance expressions. As a Caribbean dancer, I was criticised for not conforming to the already widely known forms and was considered not doing one technique. This gave rise to numerous queries by the artistic world on the type of dance I performed. And so the name Creola was emerged, a new unique expression of dance that can identify me as a Caribbean dancer, and it is my hope that the Caribbean can use various facets of the dance form, while accepting its diversity and subtle uniqueness to identify with our ability to synergise ballet and modern with our folk.
This is truly a remarkable and unique thing of the Caribbean, as we quickly mimic other dance movements, to create dances by adding the Caribbean flavour. Dance Creola is neither a French nor Spanish word, or a particular dance step however as mentioned before it is a term generated using the basis of Creolisation. It is intended to be a dance terminology to identify our fusion as Caribbean dancers and should not only be embraced by The Candice Clarke Academy of Dance. Creola is our Caribbean identity from a fusion of dance styles and techniques that have influenced us all over the years.
There are four fundamental dance expressions which form the basis of the Dance Creola such as:
(1) V-shaped arms, with palms facing downward
(2) sharp and gyrated movements of the hips
(3) heal and toe shuffles
(4) an open squatting position
Those are commonly done by all Caribbean dancers, however, Creola uses those movements, which are easily identifiable in all its traditional forms of dance adapted with the other primary expressions as was noted before such as the ballet and modern.