By Lincoln DePradine
Trinidad-born Henry Gomez, popularly known as “King Cosmos’’, knows a thing or two about diverse talent. He’s a composer; a singer who has won the Calypso Monarch competition in Canada; a trained actor; and a dancer. But, Gomez thinks the founder of Dance Caribe Performing Company (DCPC), Martin Scott-Pascall, is unique and a cultural “genius’’.
“Martin is a choreographer, he’s a designer, he’s a costume maker, he’s a dancer; he’s everything combined,’’ Gomez said in an interview last Friday at an awards’ gala in Scarborough, marking the 30th anniversary of the founding of Dance Caribe. “When I say he’s a creative genius, that’s what I’m looking at – the total scope. He knows how to make magic on stage.’’
Scott-Pascall, who studied dance and theatre in Trinidad at the University of the West Indies, also has been a student of Canada’s Concordia University, University of Toronto and York University.
He has directed and choreographed all DCPC’s major productions, including shows for the group’s overseas tours, such as last year’s 21-day visit to the Philippines to participate in the World Folklore Dance Festival. Dance Caribe was voted the most outstanding of 14 participating countries and Scott-Pascall named best choreographer.
He recalled that after that first impressive performance in the Philippines, organizers “switched the whole program for us to be the finale of all the shows’’.
“Image is everything and that is what is important for Dance Caribe,’’ Scott-Pascall said in brief remarks at the gala. “Every time we go out to the public, it must be at a standard and we’ve maintained that.’’
To carry a dance group for 30 years, as Scott-Pascall has done, “is not easy’’, said Gomez, who was one of the DCPC dancers that travelled to the Philippines.
“I have a lot of respect for Martin,’’ he said. “He has my undying support. I believe in what he’s doing.’’
Among the many songs Scott-Pascall has choreographed is one composed and sung by Gomez.
“That is a big honour,’’ Gomez admitted. “It makes me feel special.’’
The anniversary gala of DCPC, whose motto is “preserving through dance, the cultural diversity of the Caribbean’’, included performances by group members, as well as from the Frontline Drummers of Trinidad and Tobago.
Among the recipients of special awards were Gomez; Anthony Ishmael; Walter Elliott; Amah Harris; Wendy Jones; Jodi Murphy; Montano St Jules; Stacy-Ann Vassell; Deborah Chang Kit-Minott; and Dr Rita Cox.
Cox – an author, storyteller and retired librarian – said she has been following Dance Caribe since its inception three decades ago.
“I’m very, very proud of them,’’ she said. “They brought a gift to this country and to their own Caribbean people. I’ve seen them grow from strength to strength; I’ve seen the expertise, the high standards, and they can represent us in any part of the world in a competitive way, because of their high standards, their creativity and their absolute beauty.’’