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Tiffani's prescription for dance

By Sade Gardner
Observer writer
gardners@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, October 11, 2018

THE world will soon call her the "Doctor that Dances". Tiffani Smith is a first-year medical student at the University of the West Indies and was recently awarded a scholarship to Complexions Academy in New York. She is scheduled to partake in a week-long programme next July.

"This opportunity is mind-blowing," the 19-year-old told the Jamaica Observer. "I never went in the room thinking I'd reap anything. I was just doing it for the love of dancing so to be given this opportunity is truly amazing."

Smith stood out after participating in workshops conducted by Complexions Contemporary Ballet when the company visited the island last month for their Pliť For The Arts gala performance. The troupe's co-founder Desmond Richardson hand-picked Smith, as well as the other scholarship recipients Faybian Grizzle, Orville McFarlane and Mariana Samuda.

The award is provided by Pliť For The Arts through partial funding from Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund.

Smith wants to make the most of it.

"I hope to gain more exposure and develop my technique more, but I also hope to enjoy it," she said. "I want to be able to establish a technique and learn about different cultures and styles. I just want to reap the most from the experience and bring back what I can."

Smith has been with the L'Acadco dance troupe for more than a year, after graduating from Campion College where she performed with the school's dance society for seven years. She loves to watch folklore dance pieces but prefers to perform modern contemporary for its "fluid and elegant" style.

While declaring her love for dance, Smith said she can only do it part-time based on the current climate in Jamaica.

"People respect dancers in Jamaica but not enough to pay them what they are worth," she said. "The only way to change this is to start within ourselves, and to educate people about it. You don't have full-time dance companies in Jamaica, that's why I'm with L'Acadco. I would love to dance full-time if the opportunity would present itself."

Despite this, Smith keeps moving.

"I love to dance, even if music isn't playing I'm dancing. I do it in the morning, it keeps me going if I'm worried or upset. Dance is truly who I am."

Meanwhile, Pliť For The Arts principal Marisa Benain said the scholarship is beneficial in several ways.

"It's important for dance development in Jamaica," she told the Jamaica Observer. "I notice that when recipients go away and come back they understand what they have to work on. We have a lot of talent here and this just gives them more exposure and experience."