Caribbean Dance and Musical Theatre

Teacher: Jill Coon, theatre

School: Brooklyn High School of the Arts

Project Goal(s): Dance Caribbean Collective provides master classes to BHSA’s musical theater students as they prepare for their musical Once on this Island. The artists at DCC are also from the Caribbean so they bring cultural insights to our young people. 

Description of Activities


BHSA works with DCC for 20 sessions:  2 of the sessions are for workshops to introduce students to Caribbean dance and access what they already know about it in order to add on to it in the following 18 sessions where DCC dancers and choreographers provide in class instruction and guidance for the choreography they create for Once on This Island.  The DCC dancers help theater teachers identify student dance captains who run dance rehearsals in class when DCC is not in class.  These students become class leaders while deepening their understanding of dance, ensemble and storytelling.  In addition, the DCC residency provides professional development for the teacher as a musical theater choreographer.  When DCC dancers are not in class, the teacher can choreograph pieces that are authentic and help to tell the story. 

ETA funds were used for teaching artist fees.

Arts Partner(s)

Dance Caribbean Collective



"Our residency with Dance Caribbean Collective built the capacity of our 40 musical theater students in our musical theater class and company for "Once on this Island" to successfully tell a story through dance. They learned many key moves from Caribbean dance and were able to turnkey that learning into building their own choreography. "Once on this Island" had around 350 audience members over the run of the show. Many audience comments were about the amazing choreography. The students' prided themselves on being able to fully embrace their characters and their story telling through movement and dance."

"Dance Caribbean Collective and the way they easily worked with our school was a complete joy. I would work with them again. Azriel was a strict and nurturing teacher. Her ability to meet students where they are and then take them to the next level was inspiring. She also pushed them to new heights...they did things they never thought they could do as an ensemble."