Being Jet Black
Jet Black Academy embraces a new vision that combines competitiveness, dance training and keep fit Soca. Since its inception, 2013 with just a few members they started a little school and they’ve just grown from there.
Tuesday is health and fitness
It feels like carnival in March. Its Tuesday evenings at Westwood St. Community Center in Moss Side, Jet Black are hosting their third keep fit Soca session with over 20 women in attendance. The use of the space is generously donated by the Center.
Yosha Gilkes is one of the choreographers - “We do want people to lose weight. We want people to understand themselves their bodies and focus on eating healthy. Not just physical aspects of your well being”
It's a ‘no frills’ space, no hanging mirrors to admire your form, you’re here for one reason only remember. This is a 1 hr session and choreographers Yosha and Jordan Lee - choreographer, don’t believe in wasting time. Strike up the Afro-Beats and Calypso music. For 10 -15 minutes non-stop they point, wave, they dip, they spin, dance to the point of perspiration and run on the spot. Three songs later they get a break, everyone grabs some refreshments and then it's back to it again.
Jordan Lee - “I don’t usually teach adults so sometimes I’m a bit nervous. But it’s the third week and they are getting used to it. I need to bring it. If I appear weak then they’re going to be like this little boy, he can’t do much. So I need to show the energy”.
Jet Black, the dance troupe
The core business is the dance troupe with eye-catching choreography. Michelle is one of the organisers and a former dancer herself, who performed internationally as part of Abasindi dance group. Yosha, her daughter leads the troupe which is split into three groups, J, E & T. E and T are the younger ones where the youngest is 4. The teenages are all in J.
Michelle - "To me it’s educational as recreational, that’s why we refer to it as an academy. Each age group studies different techniques, and we run workshops on different dance styles."
Dancers are graded to help chart their progress and development. Choreography with the children takes place on Monday’s and Friday’s in preparation for competitions having just participated in one of the British Championships.
Nicky Munroe - “We came second and third in solos at the British Championship. As a group we came third and fifth; this was across the country. This was our first major competition and we did really well."
Any activity involving children yields greater results when the family give its full support. Like football and other sports, family support is essential. Jet Black usually travels with a full contingent of support, dancers parents and friends. The conversation continues, event after they leave the premises, on various social media platforms where member share photos, video and opinions.
Nicky Munroe - “Everyone supports each other, we do it as a family unit. We regard everyone in Jet Black as family."
Jet Black offers exhibitions and event entertainment. Whilst this raises revenue for the Troop, it provides hands on experience - invaluable for confidence building of its young performers.
Yosha - "We perform at corporate events, parties and carnivals here [UK] and abroad. Recently we’ve been to Barbados and the carnival in Amsterdam which was memorable."
We can all learn lesson from the simplest things. If only we would look beneath the surface. To the naked eye its dance but there's a carefully choreographed plan at play. This project Is completely self funded by all its participants. Ever too often an overreliance on funding has left good initiatives high and dry. So it empowering to see a young team of energetic ambitious visionaries put their money where their mouth is. This is the belief it takes to pull off those exhilarating moves many moons ago. You never asked if it was possible to get caught up in the music and as for the current generation of Jet Black dancers, they keep bringing it.
Jordan Lee - “Jet Black is representative of the facets of Moss Side, its strength, goodness, talent and ability. We don’t want to go out there representing Moss Side, looking weak. We need to go out there with attitude, Yeah because there are amazing dance groups around the UK and we are just as talented if not more, so we need to bring it.”
The name Jet Black is a proclamation of assured intent. We say keep the dance alive, keep filling those coaches and compete like Trojans. JS is proud to have met the ensemble affectionately known as Jet Black.