[Written by Dale Butler]
It was inevitable that Nikia Manders, BFA, MA, would be impacted by her well-known mother Linda L. Manders who established a solid record of achievement on the stage and in the classroom. Nikia, as a teacher at The Berkeley Institute started the Bermuda Dance Academy in 2015 after passionately and successfully leading teachers and students with Aida, Peter Pan, and Fame.
She is extremely well qualified—possessing an abundance of local and international experience, with a team of professional and accomplished teachers. The recital of Into the Wild that was held on June 5th at 2 pm and 7 pm at The Berkeley Institute Cafetorium had certainly artistically enhanced the productions I’ve been reviewing island-wide. Clearly, it’s an indication that organizers have raised the bar in many regards. This bodes well for the future and they deserve our applause.
Beautiful costumes and great music accentuated polished performances by a large group of female dancers, dressed as various animals, highlighting The Lion King—made famous on Broadway. Classical ballet, hip hop, tap, jazz, and acrobatics were all a part of an exciting stage dramatization—enjoyed by an audience of family, friends and the general public during the packed 2 pm performance that I attended.
Guest choreographer, Mrs. Heather Shrubb, who taught Ms. Manders, was recognized on stage with a presentation of flowers. Student, Kennedy Steeves was outstanding in a segment of Swan Lake which Mrs. Shrubb choreographed.
The school is well equipped with an Office Manager/Fit for Life Teacher and 6 choreographers teaching the various aforementioned genres. It is virtually impossible to list their names, together with those of the numerous students aged 3 and upwards. There were many highlights beyond the absolute delight of the 3-5 year olds and the closing number where many of the ages were combined. Here are just a few highlights that stood out:
- Cat: splits and graceful turns almost closed the show. It was the opening act.
- Butterflies: beautifully dressed and performed just as they emerged from their chrysalis.
- Cardinal: solo dancer, connected with the audience, acrobatic and absolutely gorgeous.
- Dalmatian: ages 3-5 were so confident with their endless running and crawling. An audience grabber.
- Shark: was special, ages 6 to 12 and the youngest ones looked like triplets. All of the dancers were so self-assured. Flawless.
- Kangaroo: solo dancer. See below.
- Penguin: have bright tap dance careers ahead of themselves. The younger ones were unfazed by the older ones as they complemented each step.
The performances above were followed by Butterfly, Zebra, Dove, Sparrow, Swan, Snake, Dragon, Animal Tamers and Wild Ones that were first class, with many exceptional moments, from the dancers. The soloists all have superstar potential with dazzling futures ahead should they choose to become teachers or professional dancers.
With a better than Broadway printed program, spotlighting the teachers, patrons, friends and extensive tech crew, you can also take a “Summer Dance Intensive” starting July 4th by contacting them at: bermudadanceacademy.com; 333-8111 or 799-7760. Ages 3 and up qualify—so, see you in class in September. The fact that teachers were on stage with students was a confidence-builder which would help you with your dance aspirations. Enjoy!
– Dale Butler is the Professor of Local Music and also writes restaurant, book and dance reviews for Bernews
Photos courtesy of Kondwani Williams
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