If you love Soca music you have seen her. She is the firey dancer who fearlessly leads the Machel Montano HD crew of dancers (into their hat trick winnings for 2012 Carnival–Soca Monarch, Groovy Soca Monarch and Road March I might add…) She is the founder of Elle NYTT, a Trinidad and Tobago-based group of master teachers, mentoring and teaching students of all ages in hip hop, ballet, modern, Caribbean folk, Dancehall, Classical Indian, Soca, and Latin dance. Since its inception in 2007, she, La Shawn Prescott has led the company, steadily increasing its presence through choreography and cultivation of dancers and choreographers for theatrical productions, corporate events, music videos, live performances and advertisements.
In 2010 Elle expanded its performance collective to New York, increasing it’s reach with significant online presence through many Caribbean websites, and Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube channels. The company’s success and visibility globally has directly coincided with the surge social media has had in the past 5 years. She noted, “My artistic vision is one of an international nature. I believe that somehow Elle has managed to stir a callalloo of ethnicities and social backgrounds, and this might very well be the most significant social contribution of the company…and we would not have been able to do so with the impact that we have, had it not been for the use of technology in our efforts.”
Last week she passed through Miami on her way back to Trinidad. We did some Pilates and chatted about the future…
She is embarking on a North American journey to pursue her MFA in Dance at one of three schools. When I asked her “what gives? you are at the absolute top of your game in TNT, and have three locations chalk full of teachers instructing students of all ages in everything from Classical ballet to Soca, why now? Why on earth would you leave Sweet TNT?” (no bias)…anyway.
She explained the ever-constant idea that in the Caribbean and in many places throughout the globe, one can be the most accomplished dancer or artist, but will still be illegitimate without accreditation by another authority, (i.e. the British or North American system). Hence her want to pursue a master’s level degree in dance. (Did I mention she already has a Master’s in Economics?)
La Shawn is HARDLY unofficial. She and her sister Halcyon (same name as me…big smile) have made a significant contribution to the world of dance in TNT through the formation on Elle in the past 5 years. They have built infrastructure where there was little to none. They have created economic opportunities for young artists, producers, video editors, music engineers, graphic designers, not to mention contributing to Machel Montano‘s career as a Soca artist in terms of the consistent and thorough upgrading of his live performance through dance and other production elements.
So as La Shawn awaits responses from the schools she plans to attend, plans are concurrently in the works to create a truly dynamic New York to Trinidad dance training and performance experience. One which re-enacts the great history of dance from Trinidad and Tobago and many other islands, for that matter, when dancers like Beryl McBurnie sojourned from roots to the periphery, (or periphery to roots, depending on your vantage) (see Colonization in Reverse by the legendary Miss Lou) to enhance their creative process.
Following the footsteps laid before her, LaShawn is doing the same. Check for updates on the company’s Facebook page here, and if you happen to wind up in Trinidad, be sure to check out any range of amazing dance classes at one of the studios soon.