Meet arts advocate, Denyse Baboolal.
Profession: Choreographer and Director of Jayadevi Arts, Inc.
For dance master and cultural activist Denyse Baboolal, rhythm hums everywhere, even as a little girl leaping around her childhood home.
“I was always dancing to strange things as a child,” jokes Denyse. “Spoons hitting the sides of the pots, or noise from the washing machine. My grandmother finally sent me off to dance school.”
But the childhood fancy soon became a serious discipline, as Denyse trained in numerous classical Indian styles under prestigious New York dance masters. But it was the late great Gora Singh, “my guru in classical Kathak,” that shaped her life’s passion.
“He said I had a very unique way of dancing, and as a Trini I needed to explore chutney as a serious art form,” remembers Denyse. “I was questioning my grandparents about their ancestry and researching the various styles that made up chutney, finally created my own form.”
As the founder of dance institute and nonprofit foundation, Jayadevi Arts, Denyse brings rhythm to a new wave of dancers, performing around the world while innovating traditions.
“The true artistic beauty and techniques of Chutney has become very watered down,” notes Denyse. “I try to preserve the traditional Bhojpuri way and the hot and spicy way for some occasions.”
But Denyse’s art advocacy also extends far beyond dance, as director of South Florida’s first Indo-Caribbean Holi, Hosay and Kitchrie festivals, the last which premiered the first ever Indo-Caribbean musical dance drama. And in 2016, Jayadevi will premiere the “Ganges Meets the Niles” showcase, a artistic exchange of Indo and Afro-Haitian Caribbean styles.