Juan-Pablo Alba Dennis (2011-2012 Dai Ailian Foundation Scholarship Award Recipient) has been on stage since the age of 8 and dancing tap, jazz, ballet and modern in Trinidad and Tobago where male dancers are in the minority since age 11. He has continuously been cast as lead roles in Musical Theater productions in Trinidad such as West Side Story, The Wizard of Oz and Jesus Christ Superstar. He has loaned his talents to his home country singing and dancing for delegates during state visits, most recently for the first lady of China and in Trinidad and Tobago. Juan-Pablo has done training at The Caribbean School of Dancing, Ballet Hispanico-NYC, the Beijing Dance Academy-Beijing China(BDA-Completing a certificate program in choreography) and is currently training at The Ailey School-NYC toward his BFA in dance. He is recognized as a young upcoming choreographer and dancer in Trinidad and has had the opportunity to represent the BDA in London for the inaugural ceremony of the Confucius institute of performance and dance. Under his belt, Juan-Pablo has completed the ISTD (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance) Tap dance syllabus with honors as well as having most recently completed his RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) advanced 2 ballet examination with the same distinction. Juan-Pablo has not only excelled in dance but also in music festivals in Trinidad where he has been awarded the title of over all champion, junior champion and north zone finalist in various categories from choral to solo work. Currently he has been involved in a series of fundraising concerts to fund his education and hopes to turn the “For The Love Of Dance” series into a foundation for other young artists that hope to pursue their crafts professionally in years to come. He is also an off and on Choreographer for the Metamorphosis Dance Company
Symara Williams is the 2013-2014 Dai Ailian Foundation Scholarship Award Recipient. She was primarily trained in Classical Ballet. Her training started with the Oregon Ballet Theater and moved to The Portland Ballet. She spent one summer in San Francisco training with the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. After graduating high school she moved to Trinidad and Tobago to really understand the side of her that she loved the most. There she became involved with the Astor Johnson Repertory Dance Theater, Caribbean School of Dancing, and Noble Douglas. She fell in love with the environment and considers it the best time of her life. It was in Trinidad she was granted the amazing opportunity of going to Beijing, China to study dance. She studied for one year under the Dai Ailian Foundation scholarship and returned for a second year on a full-tuition scholarship from the Beijing Dance Academy. The experience was mind blowing. She was taught by members of the Martha Graham Company, former dancers of Cunningham and beautiful artists from all over the world. She toured with Zhang Yu Fung performing a piece called “Lotus” and was given many opportunities to work with incredible artists. After finishing her two years she was admitted into SUNY Purchase were she is now currently studying and will be a graduate of the 2019 class. Her end goal is to graduate, make a dance company to her name, choreograph freely, and live happily.
Afiya Huggins is the 2014/2015 DAF scholarship recipient. In 2014 she graduated from the University of the West Indies with a B.Sc. Psychology and B.A. Dance (Hons). Afiya has been dancing for the past fourteen years, beginning with local Trinidadian folk and then moving onto modern dance. Throughout the years she has been apart of major local performances such as at CHOGM and HGCC. Afiya belongs to the I.B.I.S T&T Performers, The Little Carib Dance Theater and has also worked with the Astor Johnson Repertory Dance Theater. Through these she has had training in modern dance (Horton technique) and folk dance. Afiya also aspires to be a choreographer and as such has been apart of COCO the (Contemporary Choreographers’ Collective) where she presented pieces in 2012 and 2013, also being presented with COCO’s 2013 Choreographers’ Award. At The Beijing Dance Academy Afiya had the great opportunity to be taught by Ying Xin a member of The Martha Graham Dance Company, she also traveled to Nanjing, China representing BDA. Afiya considers her time in Beijing life changing as she fell in love with the rich culture of the Chinese people. While there she also had the opportunity to share Trinidad and Tobago’s culture by teaching a folk workshop for the Living Nepal’s Charity drive. Afiya believes her time in Beijing has added immensely to her life experience as well, and has broadened the scopes of her dance world, being exposed to new techniques and amazing artistes. Afiya intends to continue dancing and performing and exploring her choreographic side.
Simeon Peters (2015-2016 Dai Ailian Foundation Scholarship Award Recipient).Commencing his dance life at the latter stage of his adolescent life, Simeon’s initial career path was law. Studying the typical subjects in high school to prepare him for this, only to alter that decision after being asked to do a performance with his school’s dance troupe. Simeon was under the tutelage of Leon, Aaliyah Brewster (Latin), Judy Samuel-Boatswain, Kieron Sergeant, and Terry David. Through these teachers Simeon was able to quickly grasp the comprehension of what was required of him to become a professional in the performing arts community. He began to equip himself with knowledge of the history of our native folk dances and the ability to share that knowledge with others through his body as a vessel. He has performed in various countries, toured various places including over 10 states in America and numerous Caribbean islands. Simeon has collaborated with countless companies such as Metamorphosis, National Dance Association, and Wasafoli just to name a few. He received multiple awards such as the Sanfest Performing Arts Festival (Best Male Dance& Best Overall Performer) , Secondary School National Dance festival (Best Male Dancer, Best Duet & Best Choreography), Dance-Sport Latin competition and many others. Currently Simeon is a part of two leading companies in Trinidad and Tobago, The North-West Laventille Cultural Movement who are 12 time national Limbo Champions and the Highly proclaimed West African company Wasafoli. He is currently pursuing his BFA in Performing Arts Specializing in dance at the UTT Academy of the Performing Arts , now at 23 years Simeon’s long term dream is to open a dance therapeutic center to aid those who are in need. His philosophy is “He who wants it would work hard enough to receive it.”