Passion for dancing

There was a time Kemar Bennet hated dancing. His introduction to the art was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

As a young boy Bennet’s preferred chess –– a strategy game that challenged his mind but didn’t necessarily tax his body –– and was a member of a chess club.

But he got kicked out of the club, and, as a form of discipline, he was forced to take up ballroom dancing. Needless to say, he hated it.

“The first few months started as a punishment. I was forced to take Ballroom classes . . . it was horrible.”
“The first few months started as a punishment. I was forced to take Ballroom classes . . . it was horrible.”

“The first few months started as a punishment. I was forced to take Ballroom classes . . . it was horrible,” the former Lodge School student told Barbados TODAY.

That was 11 years ago. However, in the ensuing year, what was punishment has become his passion and it wasn’t long before he would travel to Trinidad with the his dance group, Livy and Betty Alleyne Dance Centre.

“That trip opened my eyes to the fact that there’s a lot of opportunity, and dance is something I enjoy doing,” he said.

Bennet added that the support from his instructors helped to grow his love for dancing.

“Uncle Livy always used to scream at me about having good technique, Aunty Betty yelled about practising always. They built the foundation that got me to be as disciplined as I am . . . wanting to grow and work hard.

“I started to take dancing more seriously and started to branch out and look for other things outside of Barbados and see where it can go,” he said.

Bennet, now a professional dance instructor who resides in Boston, Massachusetts. USA, returned to the school recently, where he made a special appearance at the 2015 Legends of the Floor amateur ballroom and Latin dance competition.

Accompanying him was his partner, Ivana Strancaric of Croatia. The two took part in a contest in Boston last year, but, with the competition behind them, determined that they would be better together.

Keymar Bennett’s partner Ivana Strancaric.
Keymar Bennett’s partner Ivana Strancaric.

“It is just a calming, exciting partnership. There is just never real moments of frustration” he said,  adding that there’s always room for humour.

“Always a moment to laugh . . . . makes a difference as we’re working so hard, that we can actually enjoy [dancing] at the same time.”

The physical demands that dancing places on the body can sometimes be enervating, and Strancaric admitted that there were times when rehearshing was a chore.

“It gets . . . .Uhhh I don’t want to do it and then somehow when you start to dance your energy just grows and we do our thing,” said Strancaric, who like Bennet, is a professional dance instructor at the Fred Astaire Franchise Dance Studios in Southbury, Connecticut, USA.

Meantime, Bennet has urged Barbadians to support young dancers, calling on his compatriots to “realize that they actually love it and they enjoy it”.

“The only way they can progress is if they have the funding and the emotional support to keep [dancing],” Bennet said.

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