Soleil pours her passion into hip hop workshop
Soleil Richardson has the choreography for her 90-minute hip hop class down pat, all that’s left for her to work on is her nerves.
Although the 15-year-old has taught before, Troika Bermuda’s “ultimate dance workshop marathon” is the first of its kind that she will have led.
“I’m very nervous – mostly because I’m with choreographers that have been doing this way longer than I have,” she said. “So I’m extremely nervous but I’m also very excited, because I love teaching.
“I choreographed a new routine from scratch, which was pretty hard because I got inside my head a lot, but I’m confident with the choreography I have and hopefully everyone else will enjoy it.”
She’s one of three Bermudians leading three classes Troika is offering Saturday and Sunday. Also on offer are three “intense master classes” by three of the “top working choreographers” in the entertainment industry.
“This event is focused on bringing Bermudian dancers together with the industry’s top professional choreographers in a fun, challenging, non-competitive environment that fosters self-fulfillment and development,” said Troika’s Chesney Robinson.
“The international instructors participating in this event are some of the most sought after dancers and choreographers in the world. Their work includes choreographing for concert tours, feature films, music videos and commercials.”
Soleil, who is now at home on break from Williston Northampton School in Massachusetts, started lessons with In Motion School of Dance at the age of two.
“My mom put me in dancing, I think before I could walk,” she said. “She signed me up and I’ve been dancing since then.”
At six she moved to United Dance Productions where she remained until she left for boarding school last year so she could better focus on her dancing and get lessons in musical theatre.
“It’s not specifically for the arts but they have a really good programme,” Soleil said. “I wanted to be able to work dance into my schedule more. In Bermuda I [could only do it] straight after school and so I wanted it to be more all-inclusive I guess. At Williston Northampton I dance more. I just felt like that was a better fit for me.”
She is grateful for the foundation she received at UDP. There, she was given the opportunity to participate in dance intensives at the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
“I would dance with them during the summer as well as doing my own thing. My mom would take me to different workshops away.”
Debra Vega, the director of dance at Williston, has been a huge help in helping her find her way at her new school.
“She has been so wonderful in making sure I felt comfortable away from home; she’s one of my biggest inspirations. But all of the teachers I’ve worked with over the years have just made my dancing so much better.”
In 2017 Soleil signed up for Groove, the dance intensive she will herself lead for Troika on Saturday.
“One of the other choreographers that is teaching, Kaelynn Harris, I went to her class when I was about ten – that’s how I started with Troika. And when they put on the production of The Color Purple I auditioned for that and I was in the cast and that’s how I met everyone.
“This weekend will be new for me. I have taught for community service and I would help out at my studio and teach little kids, but it’s really surreal that I’ve come full circle.”
Hip hop and contemporary are her favourite dance genres. Soleil’s “biggest dream” is to eventually have a dancing career.
“I’m also really interested in acting and singing so if I could do something in the future that ties all three of those together I would be so happy,” she said. “I think I’m very lucky to have something I’m passionate for and I’m excited for other teenagers to see it.”
Her class on Saturday is open to all ages and all levels of dancers. Soleil’s hope is that everyone who joins has fun.
“I don’t want it to be a competitive environment or anything like that,” she said. “I just want everyone to come together and create dance – because it’s such a fun and magical thing to do. And I hope that people can take away that if you’re passionate about something, no matter what age you are, you can do something with it.”
Advance tickets for Groove start at $10 and must be bought today at www.ptix.bm. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org, 531-1728 or @troikabda on Facebook or Instagram
Saturday, July 10
Instructed by: Shanna Henry 1pm to 2.30pm. Tickets are $10 if bought by Monday, July 5; $15 after.
Hip Hop/Tik Tok
Instructed by: Soleil Richardson 3pm to 4.30pm. Tickets are $10 if bought by Monday, July 5; $15 after.
Instructed by: Kaelynn Harris 5pm to 6.30pm. Tickets are $15 if bought by Monday, July 5; $20 after.
Sunday, July 11
Instructed by: Sacha Dill 1pm to 2.30pm. Tickets are $10 if bought by Monday, July 5; $15 after.
Instructed by Bizzy Boom 3pm to 4.30pm. Tickets are $15 if bought by Monday, July 5; $20 after.
Instructed by JusBMore 5pm to 6.30pm. Tickets are $15 if bought by Monday, July 5; $20 after.