By Carlena Knight
Ke’niqua Howell danced with the title in the nation’s first-ever virtual solo dance competition on Monday night.
Howell performed a modern contemporary piece to the song “Black Woman” and wowed the judges with her acrobatics and technique.
She revealed that she was actually surprised at the way she performed the piece, as everything seemed to go wrong during the practice sessions.
“I’m going to be totally honest with you, I really surprised myself because during my practices I broke down at one point because I thought I couldn’t come today and do it and then during the dance I I was like ‘ok, I’m gonna do this,’” she said.
The little dancer also opened up about the inspiration behind her performance.
“The inspiration was mainly because I feel like as black women we tend to forget our worth, so the dance was done to empower us,” said Howell, a former high school student. for girls from Antigua.
Her choreographer was Tavia Hunte of the Shiva School of Dance, of which Howell is a member.
The dance company also praised Howell for his historic achievement.
“Our Shiva ladies always turn up and show up! Ke’niqua, we’re proud of you. This fire inside of you cannot be contained. You left flames on stage last night and we want to encourage you to keep that fire going.
“Your Shiva family got you! Keep aiming for the stars, we know you’re small but we’ll be happy to give you the boost you need. Stay soft, stay focused and most importantly keep dancing,” the school said on social media.
First runner-up Gabrielle Hamlet, 13, was all smiles after the news broke. She shared that it was a harrowing experience for her as it was only her second time performing on stage in a formal setting.
“I’ve been dancing since I was young, all the time at home. I never really joined a dance group professionally. It wasn’t until I started high school that I joined my school’s dance team and performed in the drama festival this year, which was my first dance debut,” explained Hamlet.
She also performed a modern contemporary piece on the song “Spirit”.
Christine Powell took second place, Myrrisha Richards was third and Adiedre Robinson was fourth.
The inaugural virtual competition, held under the theme “Dancing together, at a distance”, was organized by the Ministry of Culture to mark the 39th anniversary of the independence of the twin island.
It was open to Antiguans and Barbudians between the ages of 16 and 35, and participants were encouraged to explore all genres of music for their performances. They were also allowed to incorporate spoken word and percussion as accompaniment to their performances.
Dancers were only allowed to perform the disciplines of Caribbean, African, modern or contemporary folk dance, street jazz, hip hop and ballet.
The Citizen by Investment (CIU) unit joined us in providing the prize money for the virtual contest, with the winner receiving $750, second place $500, third place $300, and fourth and fifth performers each got received $250.
A regional component of this event is set to take place on December 15 with the local stage winner representing Antigua and Barbuda.