Dancer and choreographer Kieron Sargeant was so troubled by the lack of paid opportunities for dancers in T&T outside of Best Village and Carnival that he opened an agency which places dancers in jobs around the world. The Kieron Sargeant Dance and Performing Arts Agency, which was opened in January 2016, has showcased T&T culture in cities such as Italy, London, Spain, Portugal, Barcelona, France, Barbados and St Lucia.
Sargeant said when he began, he made the effort to connect with private and public sector interests to get jobs for dancers and performing arts artists. His first major contract was with a cruise ship company based in France, MSC Cruises, which goes from the Caribbean to European destinations such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and France. The agency also provides dancers for the Universoul Circus based in Atlanta, Georgia, where Sargeant has been a choreographer for the last two years. “So far it’s been a success in terms of getting dancers to be paid, because most dancers in T&T are unemployed. There aren’t many jobs for dancers here unless you get a University degree and become a teacher. They may get lots of jobs around Carnival time and for Best Village and that’s it for the year, whereas I can get them to travel for the entire year and go to different countries, perform and make some money.”
Sargeant said his choreography showcases the culture of T&T, especially the folk dances and traditional mas characters. He said he thinks these are being phased out and most people now associate Carnival with bikinis, beads and feathers.
“It’s really sad to know that people don’t see it as Mas, because our Carnival started with these traditional Carnival characters. When people ask for performers, I always try to get them to book those characters, because that is our culture. One of the acts I carry out is called Caribbean Flavour, which consists of limbo dance, the Bele, and from Tobago the jig dance and the Speech Band. I’ll change it up sometimes and do Carnival character dances which I called Traditional We, comprised of the Dame Lorraine dance, the Sailor Band and the Blue Devil. For the circus, I do Colour the Caribbean, which represents the vibrancy and colour of T&T, with the different Carnival characters, moko jumbies and puppets and a fanfare performance with limbo and fire.”
Sargeant also works with local organizations and corporations to provide dancers for events. “I do workshops as well, where I have local choreographers and we charge choreographers from outside a small fee for them to learn the folk dances of T&T.
I think saving the folk is important, because that’s what the world wants to see, what we have to offer from T&T.” Sargeant will be celebrating the one-year anniversary of the agency soon and plans to expand in the future. “It’s an opportunity for dancers to get that experience, for them to go out there and really market T&T, and it brings a joy in my heart to see that I can at least do something for the dancers within T&T.”