Thu | Sep 28, 2023

Cyprian Thomas recognised for years of contribution to L’Acadco

‘This is a great feeling’ – J’can costume director

Published:Wednesday | May 3, 2023 | 12:35 AMAaliyah Cunningham/Gleaner Writer
Jamaican stylist and costume director, Cyprian Thomas (left), holds his award high following the presentation by L’Antoinette Stines, founder of  L’Acadco.
Jamaican stylist and costume director, Cyprian Thomas (left), holds his award high following the presentation by L’Antoinette Stines, founder of L’Acadco.

Donning a tailored tuxedo, paired with polished dress shoes, Jamaican stylist and costume director, Cyprian Thomas, confidently made his way to centrestage at the Philip Sherlock Centre for Creative Arts, to be presented with an award from L’Acadco for his contribution to the dance company across the 40 years of its existence. Holding the beautiful seashell award with pride, in a conversation with The Gleaner, Thomas expressed gratitude for the recognition of work.

Despite his undeniable talent, and significant contribution to not only L’Acadco but several other local and international productions, Thomas remains widely unknown. This could be chalked up to what he said is “shying away from the media”. Nevertheless, with credited work on films such as Club Paradise (1986); Shottas (2002); Spymate (2003); as well as televisions series Undue Influence and Small Island, among a host of other videos and concerts, many people have come across his work.

Thomas shared that the honour from L’Acadco is extremely special to him.

“One of the greatest feelings is when you are doing stuff and not expecting anything in return and to be contacted by the Jamaican Embassy in New York that there is someone trying to get hold of me and it came to me that this is [it, is a great feeling]. This great feeling of being recognised is one, but being recognised where you are from, from home, makes the world of difference. Being in such a big pond in America, it is like a tadpole but when you are being contacted by your own people, it is an awesome feeling,” he shared.

Thomas, who was accompanied by his mother on the gala night of L’Acadco’s 40th Season of Daaance, has always had a love for the stage and the arts, dating back to his formative years in church and primary school. It was in these institutions that he got his first big break.

“I used to recite in the Nativity of Christ during Christmas, and I started that like right up the road from where I was born and from there going to primary school. I was always involved in end-of-year concerts, even if I could not sing, I was on stage. Then from high school, I broke some ground as one of the first male members of the dance company. There were three of us. Then I was contacted by JIS [Jamaica Information Service] then known as API [Agency for Public Information],” Thomas shared of how he got started in the entertainment production business.

“They came to my principal and asked if I could read for a part, and I got contacted for a part on a local TV series called Around the Browns and Life With The Littles. Then it just continued from the dance club to the drama club and then from there, I was invited for a movie called Club Paradise with Peter O’Toole and Twiggy, Jimmy Cliff and from that one job it just kept growing and growing to where we are. I have done films, movies, concerts, all sorts of different projects local and overseas,” he continued.

His contributions are not lost on those who he has worked with throughout his career. L’Antoinette Stines, who has been working with him for many years, holds him in the highest of esteem and used the occasion to reflect on his work and role in the dance company.

“My memory of Cyprian is very different from other people. He not only dressed L’Acadco but he also dresses L’Antoinette Stines. He is what you would say – fancy, if that’s the right word. He would not only dress the dancers but also be in the dressing room and if a costume fell on the floor, and you left it there, you were in very big trouble,” she said.

She attributed his uniqueness and stunning artistry to his keen eye for detail.

“He chose all his colours from what God gave him, he would pick up all the green leaves and he would show me and say pick one. He would then take the leaves to the store to buy the cloth to make the costumes,” Stines said further.

According to her, the costumes he has contributed over the years are still worn by dancers to date. Now residing overseas, Thomas continues to contribute to the world of entertainment and performing arts through his creativity.

aaliyah.cunningham@gleaner.com