"ADAD Asks"...Carolene Hinds
In each Hotfoot newsletter, ADAD interviews an experienced dance professional with connections to the APD / Black dance sector and ask them 10 direct questions.
This edition, we meet Carolene Hinds
- As a choreographer when and where were you at your creative zenith?
I feel that winning the Sainsbury's Award for Arts Education in 1991 was a real turning point for me as a choreographer and dancer. The Jiving Lindy Hoppers (JLH) were to stage a comparative Authentic Jazz Dance(AJD)/Ballet series of lecture demonstrations with the major ballet companies. JLH was able to commission Bill Louther to choreograph and rehearse a new show for us called 'Harvest Moon Ball'. The work had a narrative form and would capture the era of the annual dance held in Madison Square Garden. This was a career significant project in that it allowed me to work with an artist who had an amazing history. Bill was a major contributor to the UK contemporary dance scene with his involvement with London Contemporary Dance Theatre. His special combination of dance disciplines gave me an insight into how various forms could compliment one another whilst maintaining their individual beauty. I worked as Bill’s assistant so learning first hand the importance of precision and clarity in movement and the powerful meanings that could be conveyed. As a dancer I was being stretched and as a choreographer I was given space to experiment and see how other styles related to the AJD tradition. The whole project influenced me profoundly.
Other choreographic projects that followed, plus the show 'Flying Home' performed as part of the New York, Lincoln Centre 'Out of doors' festival at Damrosch Park was particularly noteworthy as a fusion of African (Francis Angol), Irish (Ciara Gill), Tap (Diane Walker) and jazz (JLH) dance to the music of the Celtic band Sin E. Lasting relationships were forged with artists here in the UK and USA.
More recently when I was choreographer for the musical ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ at The Crucible in Sheffield, I had to work in my most challenging project to date. I was pregnant at the time and extremely in tune with the intricacies of my movement and how I used my body.
The question is do we ever reach our creative zenith? I would like to think that the best is yet to come!
- How do you see the dance scene in the UK? Do we produce the type of dancers you enjoy working with?
The dance scene in the UK is still so divided. We need to move closer to a dance community that nurtures a mutual respect for each other’s dance forms and a unity to celebrate the differences.
When thinking about performers, in order to use dancers who are competent in the authentic jazz dance technique I use, I have had to devise an in-house training programme with Warren Hayes. Part of that development has involved research on the historical, social and cultural context of the AJD led by Terry Monaghan.
- Are there still steps to take for Jazz dance and all its styles to be better understood by audiences and venues?
It feels like a huge leap still needs to be taken in order to educate audiences and venues. The art form is not fully appreciated or ever given the status of other techniques and dance styles. We need to be building relationships with the schools, colleges and universities in order to start to encourage respect for all APD forms in terms of the academic content of the courses they offer. Increasingly venues do take on APD shows but it still appears to be in order to fulfil specific criteria or to tick a box on a funding application form.
- Have you ever sensed a kind of glass ceiling in your career?
Right now, progress in my career has shifted onto a different plane. Having invested so much time and energy on jazz dance I have no intention of walking away from my art form, but I feel I have a lot of experience that could go unutilised but for an organisation such as ADAD. In some ways, it feels like I’ve had to start over again. The support systems are not in place for continued professional development (CPD) in African Peoples Dance forms, especially for someone at my stage of their career. So I hope my knowledge will benefit the APD sector by me acting as an ADAD advocate and it gives me the opportunity to continue to communicate my insights to a multifaceted dance community. Vocational training needs and CPD are progressing through Dance UK and ADAD. Am I really the target participant? Plus for me as an ADAD steering committee member, I am not eligible for ADAD schemes. Where do I get my development needs met?
- What steps can still be made with the APD sector itself to build resources and practitioners?
We have to continue to strive to make inroads in terms of influencing the academic content of educational establishments teaching dance and the performing arts. It is also about encouraging activity from people and organisations such as ADAD, and State Of Emergency and then also to nurture relationships with organisations such as Dance UK. Invest in people. Find a way to implement change and set up support systems that embrace continued professional development.
We need to record our history in order to enlighten the future and we must aim to highlight all those who have made a contribution to dance in the UK. Therefore an archive that is accessible to everyone is critical.
- What is your present interpretation of African Peoples Dance (APD)/Black Dance?
It’s a story of under funding leading to mistrust and a lack of unity. The energy of the many voices out there needs to be harnessed in order to be clearly heard and together to progress to the next level. Longevity in a company is an achievement; never the less relevance to the sector is fundamental and would assist a changing public’s misconception of the many APD forms.
- Is the APD / Black dance sector relevant to the overall British dance scene and why?
The true extent of the contribution that the APD sector has made is underplayed. The struggles within the APD sector actually reflect a host of social and political problems within the country that need to be addressed before the genre can move confidently into the future.
- Career path. Are you at the point in your professional evolution you hoped to be right now?
Yes. When I started out I never imagined that I would be in a position to inspire, mentor and make history. Teaching a dance form that is so versatile has been my privilege. I now feel ready to investigate a few of my hitherto unexplored dreams. For example, having worked with different communities in so many countries, it would be amazing to create a youth dance company made up of a representation of this global experience. I would like to spend more time writing my poetry.
- What keeps you focused and motivated?
Firstly, I believe that things will change and I enjoy the constant challenge of trying to gain recognition for this vibrant sector of the dance community. The APD community is rich in history and captures a wealth of knowledge that needs be shared. Working with people who have the same goals is a great motivator. Also as a mother I feel it is important that my son, as a part of the ‘next generation’ has access to these dance forms that could so easily disappear if the necessary support systems are not set up.
- What advice or 'words of wisdom' could you offer to those people working in the APD / Black dance arena?
Respect yourself and others will learn to do the same. Don't forget where you have come from and pay tribute to those who have gone before.
Reward comes in many guises be sure to recognise and take advantage of it at every opportunity.
Carolene is the Artistic Director of the Jiving Lindy Hoppers. She has appeared on Michael Barrymore's ‘My Kind of People’, and danced in and/or presented in BBC's 'Playdays', S4C's 'Dressed To Thrill’, Nickelodeon's 'Boogie Box', 'The Generation Game', and choreographed for the rapper Ice-T's 'Baad Ass TV,' 'Talking Telephone Numbers' and featured in various TV and magazine fashion features.
In 1991 she was Assistant Choreographer for the award-winning musical 'Carmen Jones', under the direction of Simon Callow, at the Old Vic, choreographing the show's highly acclaimed number ‘Beat Out That Rhythm on the Drum’.