Tue | Nov 12, 2019

Joshua Craigie dancing to his dreams

Published:Tuesday | October 8, 2019 | 12:20 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Aspiring dance company owner Joshua Craigie was all dressed up for The BRIT Awards early this year, where he performed on stage with award-winning entertainer Hugh Jackman.
Joshua Craigie is spotted easily in white among the members of the Wolmer’s Dance Troupe.
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Imagine your child, one year before his high-school graduation, announcing that he wants to migrate to another country to study dance. It may not be the simplest wish to grant, but for Joshua Craigie’s parents, their son was already living the dream to dance.

A brave fourth-form student then, Craigie pulled his parents aside to discuss just how far he expected dance to take him or, better said, where he wanted to take dance.

“My parents have been supportive of the dance dream, but surprisingly, they were the ones who found the school after I told them what my plans were .

I went for the interview and auditions in January and returned back to my regular scheduled classes in Jamaica right away, and in April, we got news that I was accepted, and I left two months later to start the next cycle of the dream,” Craigie told The Gleaner.

Craigie is always in a dance state of mind. It’s more than just an extra-curricular activity, but rather, some sort of existential space where the Jamaican is empowered to express emotion through technique and synchronized movements, but it was not always like this for the 18-year-old.

DIFFICULT TRANSITION

“There were many times in my head that the thought of failure creeped in, but the most recent memory was in my finals last year when my colleagues were getting all these amazing opportunities and I was not. Then because I was putting so much pressure on myself and I was feeling pressured to succeed, because so many people had sacrificed so much to even get me to that school, that my passion for dance started to fade away.”

The British Performing Arts and Technology School, or The BRIT School, was a challenging change of environment for the young dancer who was used to performing at a level that was deemed good, standing out in groups dominated by females but still fitting in.

He said: “In addition to not having any friends in London, it was very difficult because I was often homesick and always felt like the outsider looking in … I was always trying to find the place where I fit in.”

He admitted that he started school at the bottom of the class, “with no technique and idea where it would lead me”, but within his two years at The BRIT School, Craigie has managed to work his way up the ladder and is in the second-highest group of students. He was also awarded a merit in his UAL (University of the Arts London Awarding Body) Level Three Extended Diploma in Dance, as well as received the ‘Prince Charming Award’ at the school. He was one of the dancers for award-winning actor and singer Hugh Jackman, best known for playing Wolverine in the X-Men film from 2000-2017, when he performed at The Brit Awards 2019.

“While I would say the European dance culture is very inclusive to all styles of dance and has taught me so much in the technical aspect of dancing, I must acknowledge that learning in Jamaica, an aspiring dancer or performer, for that matter, will learn how to show the audience the passion for his or her craft because we are better at teaching that. I also try to include as many reggae moves as I can in anything I get the opportunity to choreograph in London.”

WOLMER’S DANCE TROUPE

Although in dreamland, Craigie is always drawn back to where it all began – a manifestation of the place he existed before The Brit School – his childhood dance days with the Wolmer’s Dance Troupe, which happens to be the grounds that moulded him into the present-day dancer and choreographer that he is becoming. Still recovering from a back injury, he guest-choreographed for the troupe’s recent season of dance, ‘Sense of Peace’.

“The troupe is where the passion all began for me and after doing the show, I can truly say my passion has been restored to 100 per cent. Though I was excited to choreograph for the production for the first time, it was also very nerve-racking; I did not want any of the dancers to injure themselves, and I understand how my teachers feel watching us learn, improve and grow as dancers,” he said.

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com