December Artist of the Month – Betina Georges

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Betina Georges has always known that Dance is the life force that runs through her veins. As a little girl she would dance in front of a mirror by herself when no one was looking and it would make her feel alive. She had to dance in secret because she knew that her parents didn’t approve. She started dancing with some of her friends and would even sneak off to rehearsals with them, but if her parents found out, they would come and pull her out of the rehearsal and take her home to be punished for wasting her time with such a worthless pastime. They would tell her that she’s abusing her body for nothing. Eventually she started meeting other older individuals who danced professionally and proved to her that dancing could truly be a realistic pursuit for her. Henry Fritzner and Yonel Charles became mentors of hers early on and she joined their folk dance troupe, Gran Lakou. It was through Gran Lakou that she was trained in the different styles of folk dance and how it can be used as a tool for storytelling and cultural preservation.

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Now at the age of 27 Betina is a mother herself to a six-year-old daughter named Sankofa. Sankofa loves to dance too and Betina is making sure that she encourages her to follow whatever passions she feels in her heart. Betina prefers to dance in the folk style of her country because it is a source of pride for her as a Haitian and by carrying on such a long held tradition, she hopes to keep that same pride alive for her fellow Haitians as well. One of her favorite parts of being a dancer is the community of other dancers in the Jacmel area that have become a new family to her and are always there to lift one another up. At SAJ she says that she has found even greater connection to that community and that provides strength to her dancing.

Even though there is little support for dancers such as Betina in Haiti, she continues to press on using her talents to share her country’s culture and sustain its traditions. She hopes that the work she is able to do as a dancer not only brings joy to those that watch her perform, but also proves the value of dance to a society that often disregards the worth of such creative expressions. Betina is confident, though, of dance and art as an essential part of the fabric of their identity as Haitian people. She hopes to elevate the public perception of dance so that more young people may believe in the power of the arts in general. Despite the obstacles, she encourages more young people to get involved in dance. She says, “Dance is something you do because you love it and for no other reason. If it’s within you, then you have to allow that urge within your soul to guide you.” She’s seen in her own life that if you maintain positive and keep working towards your goals, dance can help you get there. You just can’t give up.

(Click the image below to view a video of Betina dancing the traditional Makawon)

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