Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 21st 2016 Contents B39
August 21, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
23, was born and
bred in rustic
Marac Village in
parents, Michael and Pamela, noticed
her gift as a dancer, she was just five.
"Dancing has always been my pas-
sion and still is. Every single time I
am given the opportunity to perform,
my goal is to dance from my heart;
let the audience feel what I feel
whether it is joy, pain, fear or hope.
I grew up dancing in church and I
would often ask God to teach and
inspire me as it pertains to dance,"
The self-taught dancer graces the
stage any chance she gets, while pur-
suing a bachelor s degree in physical
education at the University of T&T
(UTT), Corinth Campus.
Her father is a fisherman and mom,
a housewife. They successfully raised
seven children, miles away from the
nearest city in southern Trinidad.
Aguilleira, the baby of the bunch,
believes it was growing up around the
family s positive influences that shaped
her character. From Merissa, 30, cap-
tain of the T&T women s cricket team
and former captain of the WI women s
cricket team Aguilleira, learnt
resilience, as she followed her sister s
career on television. Her eldest sibling,
Tricia, taught her the joy of service
to others as a community activist; the
humility she learnt from looking at
her brother, Sheldon, a pastor.
Determination, she learnt from see-
ing the way her elder sister, Petra,
balances her life as a mother of four
and manager at her job. Darron, she
said, taught her strength even in the
face of adversity, and Jeselle, a designer
and singer, showed her how to be her
own teacher. This, she said, is just
what she had to do, as distance and
finances did not permit her parents
to send her to dance classes.
Nevertheless, in primary school,
she was much requested at village
events and by age ten she was an
active dancer in the Best Village dance
group. She continued trailblazing into
secondary school and showed others
how to successfully balance academics
and extra curricular activities.
At Moruga Secondary, Aguilleira
was awarded several credits. She was
named Best Physical Education Stu-
dent in 2005, the school s sports-
woman of 2008 and 2009, as well
as Most Outstanding Female Sports-
woman 2011. She also took home the
Principal s Award in 2009 and was
named Most Disciplined Student two
years later. She represented her com-
munity at the La Reine Rive Pageant
and made it to the finals. That bug,
she joked, bit her good that year.
Her creativity would turn another
direction when she enrolled at UTT
to pursue her second love, physical
Aguilleira secured a partial track
and field scholarship in 2012
and become the 2013 UTT Cheer
Extreme Dance instructor. She is also
an avid footballer and cricketer, evi-
dent in her stint as a member of the
U-15 Women s Cricket Team; in
2007 she travelled to Argentina to
compete in a women s cricket tour-
Giving up her passion to nurture
her profession, she said, had been no
easy decision. "It was always a bit
difficult to balance the both and the
distance in terms of travelling from
Moruga to San Fernando to attend
school or dance class, it was stressful,
but the joy of dancing was worth it.
Dancing is one of my hiding places;
for me it helps relieve stress.
"However, when school became
more strenuous I eventually stopped
(dancing) because I felt school was
more important at that time. It is sad
that I stopped dancing for close to
two years," she said.
This decision, however, did not stop
her from immediately falling in love
with another genre of dance when
introduced by fellow UTT student,
The two quickly became Latin
dance partners and soon enough,
Aguilleira was once again living out
her passion. They would go on to per-
form at their campus Spanish Day
festivities, win her village talent show
and place third at the Spanish Dance
category at Best Village. In 2014,
Aguilleira would join the Terry David
Performing Theatre as well as make
the finals of the South Central Island
Production Talent Quest.
"I do have plans to rejoin a dance
group and continue to grow as a
dancer, work towards developing my
very own dance group in Moruga
where I can contribute to the devel-
opment of culture and the arts in my
community. But what I really want
to do is make the T&T national dance
team and represent my country in
ballroom dancing," she said.
The T&T Grassroots Film Festival
provides an opportunity for local
filmmakers and the public to be
exposed to each other. Garland
Holder, co-founder of the Digital
Film Institute (DFI) and the organiser
of the festival, said it is targeted at
young and emerging filmmakers
who have made a film with little to
no budget and don t have a platform
to show it.
He said the festival was formed
to complement the other film fes-
tivals already in existence in T&T.
Holder said his festival takes the
approach that all are welcome. "We
don t care what level of film you
have, we want to appreciate you and
give you a platform for the fact that
you went out there and made a film,
that you had a story to tell and you
have a voice that needs to be heard.
"We just want to create that plat-
form where you can come and inter-
act with the public and get feedback,
support and recognition for the
accomplishment of making a film.
The way we structure it is for the
filmmaker to come and show their
films and then have a five minute
question-and- answer session with
He urged members of the public
to come out and encourage the film-
makers, as it s a free opportunity to
see local films.
"It doesn t really hurt anybody to
come out and watch what is being
shown on the screen. We want to
create a space and platform where
people know they could take their
families on a Saturday evening and
be entertained for nothing. It really
just costs you time to come here for
an hour or two and watch some
emerging filmmakers try and make
their mark, and who knows? We
might discover some amazing talent
in the process."
He said DFI hopes one day to make
this initiative a full festival, with
sponsorship. "We re just doing this
out of the passion and desire to see
film in Trinidad grow. I think that s
the key thing that I want people to
understand: We re doing it in spite
of a lack of funds."
About 20 people turned out to the
first screening on August 13, where
three films were shown. The next
screening will be on August 27, and
will feature Inside Out the Mad
House, written and directed
by Azard Daniel; The Misadventures
of Brian and Sachin, written and
directed by Nicholas Clarke; and
Stonerz, written and directed
by Lyder Obiora Smith Holder com-
mended the people who are working
to put on the TTGFF.
"They really are troupers, you call
on them and they come out and give
of themselves wholeheartedly."
He also thanked Albert Laveau of
the Trinidad Theatre Workshop,
where the festival is being held, for
donating the space.
The festival began on August 13
and continues every other Saturday
until December 3. Holder is calling
on local and regional filmmakers to
submit their films for screening, and
emphasised that no one would be
"We welcome any quality, any
length, any topic. We don t care
where the filmmaker comes from,
and we welcome all the films we can
get to have this ongoing annually.
"There are a lot of people curious
about local films and don t even
believe that we can make good films
in T&T, so I m saying give it a try,
come and see what is out here."
Free Grassroots film fest welcomes all films
Garland Holder of the Grassroots Film Festival. PHOTO COURTESY IAN LEWIS
Find Trinidad and Tobago Grassroots
Film Festival on Facebook.
Self-taught dancer Melissa Aguilleira is also a serious student of
Links Archive August 20th 2016 August 22nd 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page