Dr L’Antoinette Stines’ dance ‘love story’ - Renowned dancer, choreographer and educator to launch new virtual ‘Akadame’
“Love heals everything.” That is the personal mantra of Dr L’Antoinette Stines, dancer, choreographer, lecturer, author, visionary and founder of L’Acadco: A United Caribbean Dance Force – one of the paramount leaders of contemporary dance. Her...
“Love heals everything.” That is the personal mantra of Dr L’Antoinette Stines, dancer, choreographer, lecturer, author, visionary and founder of L’Acadco: A United Caribbean Dance Force – one of the paramount leaders of contemporary dance. Her every move is an expression of commitment to dance; her every word is a letter her body writes, quickly silencing non-believers.
“I believe in the divine energy of love and sharing and I give thanks to the divine for the breath of life, for loving me and allowing me to love,” Dr Stines told The Sunday Gleaner.
Not many will understand that, but as a woman with over 30 years in the field, Dr Stines puts it simply that love is the nucleus of her company – one that she never intended to establish in the beginning.
“I didn’t want to have a dance company and I never thought of it as a school,” she said. “It was me dedicating my life to the training of dancers no matter what economic status, and I have had the privilege to see the growth of many professionals trained by me in The Lion King, teaching in Holland and London, all over.”
Dr Stines’ dance career began in Jamaica with Alma Mock-Yen in 1961. She danced her way through to the Martha Graham School and finally to Pepsi Bethel Authentic Jazz Dance Company and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in New York and accrued both technical and theatrical training. She started L’Acadco while in the United States, and using her own genealogical background of Chinese, Indian, African and Spanish as a source of inspiration, the company founder fostered an attitude, in all her students, that dance should be ‘out of many one people.’
“It is reason behind the innovation of L’Antech, a technique based on the modern contemporary dance of the Caribbean and all its cultural influences, and I wanted to train dancers who represented all of that,” Dr Stines shared.
She later returned to Jamaica with a vision to establish a group that could defy the odds and it has, performing extensively across the Caribbean in Barbados, Haiti, Cuba and globally, in Japan, China, Europe, and North and South America.
“When I held auditions at UWI, looking for dancers for L’Acadco, I realised there was a lot of talent, but talent that required training. I believe the divine energy of the universe was being channelled through me and so I offered my services to other people to represent that voice,” she said. “I just looked at it as nurturing thinking dancers, those that could not only dance, but knew the history behind their bodies’ movements. For me, it’s not dance, it is ‘daaance’ - the spirit, mind and body exploding as one. To do this, it is a blending of techniques and theatrical overstanding.”
Even with examinations as part of her regular course plan, the choreographer/dance educator said she did not think she established a school - she was genuinely creating a relationship with others who shared the passion. Hence the chapter does not end here, Dr Stines is continuing her love story with dance as she makes preparations to launch the L’Antoinette Performing Arts Akadame in summer 2021. The classes at her open-air studio in Vineyard Town are ongoing she said, but this is a step further and will begin in the virtual space.
“Daaance represents the lives of one human being; first you are a child, then a teenager, then an adult. With each stage, is another life you start, so all these lives I would like to be able to present to the world. Also, I hope I will be training new bodies to evolve into teachers of dance, and that in our presentations we will impact one soul that he or she will learn that black lives and all lives matter,” she said.