Two Caribbean Artistes win Commonwealth Connections Residencies

Jamaican dancer and choreographer, Neila-Ann Ebanks has been awarded a dance residency under the 2011 Commonwealth Connections International Arts Residencies.

Commonwealth Connections International Arts residencies enable artists from Commonwealth countries to work alongside artists in another Commonwealth country in a two-way cultural exchange.

Ebanks’ award is the first dance residency to be awarded under the program and will take place in Canada later this year. While there, she intends to explore the use of video, using performing bodies with filmed projections. She’ll work alongside four diverse Canadian artistes in the arena of dance and theatre to enrich and expand the dance scene in Jamaica on her return.

Twelve international judges, all experts in their fields, took part in the rigorous judging process where seven artists were selected from nearly 200 applications to receive awards of up to £8,000 to spend time living and working in another Commonwealth country. The winners will undertake original and innovative projects that promise to be of benefit not only to themselves, but to their countries of origin and their host communities.

Rodell Warner

Trinidadian photographer, Rodell Warner is also among the recipients. He was awarded a residency in photography. He’ll be travelling to South Africa to immerse himself in its dynamic arts scene and to work alongside the renowned photographer Pieter Hugo.

Neila Ebanks is highly skilled in a variety of dance forms including modern, contemporary, jazz and folk, and has worked in Jamaica and the UK. She’s also a full-time lecturer in performance and improvisation at The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. She was twice nominated for an International Theatre Institute Actor Boy Award for Choreography – The Black That I Am (2005) and De Moon In De Crossroads (2006). She was a permanent judge on the popular Jamaican television dance competition Dancin’ Dynamites and currently hosts the local Creative Television (CTV) programmes, Repertoire, and One on One. Her strong performance skills coupled with her innovative use of method, style and original conceptualisation have won her acclaim at home and abroad.  Her work is firmly rooted in her Jamaican ancestry.

Rodell Warner is a photographer and graphic designer and works in Trinidad & Tobago, His photographs range from images of community-based environmental protection to an exploration of public and private spaces. Often working collaboratively, Warner creates and executes his own projects, exploring and presenting new conversations about the ways we see ourselves.  His work has been exhibited in Trinidad and overseas, including Washington DC, and has earned him national acclaim.

“What this means to me is huge opportunity to broaden the range of people and of experiences that I can respond to in my work, and share with,” said Warner. “Newness is always the catalyst for me making things, and in South Africa everything will be new to me. It will be interesting too to look for similarities in the people and culture between Trinidad and South Africa, and to make bridges, and to put things side by side,” he added.

Commonwealth Foundation Interim Director, Danny Sriskandarajah said:“Commonwealth Connections is one way that the Foundation promotes cultural exchange across the 54 members of our unique association. From Pitcairn paintings to Sri Lankan sculpture to Jamaican dance, this year’s winners are an exciting and diverse cohort of talented artists. I hope they will gain a tremendous amount from their international residencies.”

The seven winners are:

• Neila Ann Ebanks, Dance, Jamaica
• Rodell Warner, Photography, Trinidad & Tobago
• Ruth Feukoua, Installation art, Cameroon
• Olaniyi Rasheed Akindiya (Akirash), Installation art, Nigeria
• Pradeep Thalawatta, Installation art, Sri Lanka
• Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, Installation art, United Kingdom
• Meralda Warren, Painting, Pitcairn Islands (the first winner from the Pitcairn islands)

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