A busy first year for NIA

The last month has been one of the busiest ever for the National Institute of Arts (NIA), culminating in their recent end of year performances which highlighted the artistic dexterity of the organization.
The school just completed a series of guest performances for different organizations across the island, as a part of its goal to bring the arts closer to the community of St. Maarten/St. Martin.
“This has been a very busy time for us, planning for our end of year presentation, but also fulfilling requests to participate in a slew of activities around the island. At NIA we are very community oriented and so whenever we are approached to participate in events we do our utmost to bring a quality performance to those audiences,” Clara Reyes, Co-director of NIA, said.
In the past weeks NIA has performed at several programs including the Ms. Elegant Mothers of the Year pageant, the Soroptimist International Cultural Evening at the West Indies Mall, the opening of the Rotary Peace Monument at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library and the opening ceremony of the 12th annual St. Martin Book Fair at the Princess Juliana Airport.
“At each event we tailor our performances to suit the occasion, but we also try to really reach the audiences each time and open their minds more to the arts. At each performance we attempt to create a space where people can imagine their own artistry and see NIA as a vehicle with which to engage with it. It remains our aim and commitment to take the arts and the community’s perceptions of it to new levels, especially quality wise; so to promote quality trainings in artistry. We always hope that people are also curious enough to investigate their own artistry and to come to NIA in order to develop it,” Arlene Halley, Co-director of NIA, said.
After that event was the St. Martin Book Fair and Reyes said that NIA was proud to have been offered the opportunity to work with such an organization.
“This was the first time that NIA worked with the St. Martin Book Fair and we were really looking forward to it. The St. Martin Book Fair has become one of the premiere events on the island, particularly in the literary world. So it is great to expand NIA’s reach. NIA intends to become an all-encompassing arts institute so it was great to broaden our range of arts excellence by participating in this year’s Book Fair opening. This event, over the years, has become a prestigious event and for us it was a platform from which to reach and greet our island’s intellectuals and perhaps stimulate their artistry,” Reyes said.
The most recent presentation, prior to the end of year showcases, was a performance for Rotary Club of St. Maarten.
“NIA was invited to create something new, a special piece incorporating the multicultural aspects of our island. This piece, titled ‘Come into the Light’, was another signature show piece, and again was a collaboration between all NIA choreographers. It included Taiko drumming, international dance segments and local aspects as well. It drew upon the different nationalities found on the island and was really an intercultural world dance,” Halley said.
NIA is the only institution which has the Taiko drums in the entire Caribbean and there are plans to offer a workshop or classes for this south Asian instrument soon.
The institution wrapped up its inaugural year with an End of Year Performance Showcase entitled “A Step Beyond” on June 12, 13, and 14. Each evening was followed up, but after parties catering to the adults and children in attendance.
“At NIA we are really working hard to foster a sense of family and a feeling of belonging. So we wanted to take the opportunity allow people to stay beyond the performances, linger and speak with each other. It must be said that everyone looked like they were really having a great time and so this is definitely something that we will do again in the future. For the after parties we were able to have great St. Maarten/St. Martin artists, Bobo Claxton joined by Norwin and Alain Boirard as our Dj, come and set the tone for the evenings. We definitely plan to repeat the Frozen after party in the new school year for our youngest students,” Reyes said.
For more information about NIA and their upcoming school year starting in August 2014, please contact the school at 543-0600 or ni****@ou*****.com or pass by the John Larmonie Center on Longwall Road, Philipsburg.