An evening of modern, contemporary, street and religious dance is what Barbadians can look forward to this weekend, when the finals of Community Dance Fest are held at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, on Saturday, January 24, beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Thirteen groups will attempt to dance their way into the hearts of the judges at the event, which is being coordinated by the Community Development Department (CDD).

The CDD conceptualised and initiated the programme in 2006, as a vehicle for achieving social cohesion, self-development and behaviour change among Barbadian youth.??

According to that department, the festival had captured the interests of adolescents and young adults, particularly males, from communities across the island. As a result, attendance at the finals usually ranged from 7,000 to 10,000 persons.

The finalists were chosen after showcasing their skills in the recently-held Zone Semifinals. The groups and their respective genres are: Praise Academy Children of Promise – Caribbean Folk and Religious; KUUMBA – Caribbean Folk; Praise Academy of Dance (Adults) – Modern, Contemporary and Religious; Next Step Dancers ??? Contemporary/Street Dance; and Next Step Kids ??? Contemporary/Street Dance.??

The additional finalists are: Motivation Dancers ??? Street Dance/Contemporary; Multifarious ??? Street Dance/Contemporary; M.T.V. Dolls ??? Street Dance/Contemporary; Xclusive Girls ??? Street Dance/Contemporary; Reactive Dancers ??? Street Dance/Contemporary; Haynesville Youth Club (Juniors) ??? Street Dance/Contemporary; Olos ??? Modern Dance/Contemporary/Religious; and Haynesville Youth Club (Adult) ??? Street Dance/Contemporary.

Two winners will be announced on the night ??? one each from the junior and senior categories, and a number of additional prizes will be awarded to the dancers. These prizes include The Community Spirit Award; The Most Improved Groups among Seniors and Juniors; Most Impactful Presentation; and The Best Male and Female Groups (Seniors only).??

Other prizes are: The HIV/AIDS Prevention Message; and the Originality Award; Creativity Award; Most Afro-Centric Performance; Best Environmental Message; Best Costume among Juniors and Seniors; Best Anti-Substance Abuse Message; ACE Award for Consistently Positive Messages; Best Anti-Violence Award; and the Team Spirit Award.

Community Dance Fest was formerly known as the Community Indepen-Dance Festival, and was held in November as a way to celebrate Barbados??? Independence. Currently, it runs from October to January and culminates on or close to Errol Barrow Day.During these months, the competition goes through preliminaries before moving to Zone Finals and then the National Finals.

The Zones are broken up into the Northern Zone, encompassing St. Lucy, St. Peter, St. Andrew and St. Joseph; the Southern Zone comprising St. Philip, St. Thomas, St. George and Christ Church; St. Michael North Zone, with the districts Black Rock, Grazettes, Eden Lodge, Bush Hall and surrounding districts; and the St. Michael South Zone, which covers Pinelands, The Ivy, Haggatt Hall, Brittons Hill, Bayville and the surrounding districts.

The Community Development Department works with dancers at every stage of the competition to enhance their level of performance. They do so by hosting a number of workshops where participants are provided with tips in several areas, including choreography.??

The competition will be judged by an experienced team led by Chief Judge Alicia Hurley. Other judges are: Andrew Rolston, Narada Thorington, Michael Phillips, Kimberley Jordan, Glen Burnett, Tania Whitby-Best, Olivia Hall, Damien Cumberbatch, Monica Boyce and Geraldine Lynch.

Tickets are still available for the finals of Community Dance Fest at the following locations: Joe???s Pharmacy, Oistins, Christ Church; Emerald City Supermarket, Six Roads, St. Philip; C S Pharmacy, Trident House, Broad Street, Bridgetown; Pharmaco Limited, Church Street, St. Peter; The Ticket Centre, Massy Stores Super Centre Complex, Warrens, St. Michael; and Digicel Barbados Limited, Sheraton Mall, Christ Church.

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