Dance choreographer, teacher, scholar Gregor Breedy dies

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Gregor Breedy raises his hand in the air after being announced as the winner of the Best Choreographer award for his work with the North West Laventille Cultural Movement in 2017. –

Master choreographer Gregor Breedy died on Monday at the age of 57.

His niece Kerryann Sealey said he had been ailing with cancer for some time and it overtook him quickly.

Breedy started dancing in 1990 at the Trinidad East Indian Dance Company, under Rajkumar Krishna Persad, before being asked to join the Barataria Best Village Group by Felix Harrington.

While with Barataria, he was also taught by Peter London and Emelda Lynch-Griffith. His dance tutelage also includes individuals such as Patricia Roe, Dr Carol La Chapelle, Astor Johnson, Noble Douglas, Henry Daniel, Nicole Wesley, Sonja Dumas, Cyril St Lewis, Billy Ann Balay, Suzette Sherman, David Earle, James Kudelka, Raymond Ross and Andre Ettienne.

He studied at the Toronto Dance Theatre and worked with the Gina Lori Riley professional Dance Company in Windsor, Ontario, from 1992 to 1995. He won the Best Male Choreographer award in the Prime Minister’s Best Village Competition 11 times, and was adjudged Best Male Dancer three times. He also won awards for his work with La Reine Rive and received a Gayelle Independence Award in 2009, among other achievements

In 2014, Breedy obtained his BFA with Honors specialising in dance at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). He then attained his Master’s in Carnival Studies under the guidance of Dr Hollis Liverpool and Dr Rudolph Ottley. He was pursuing his PhD at UTT under the supervision of Dr Hollis Liverpool and Professor Valerie Stoute at the time of his death.

Having taught at various pre, primary and secondary schools throughout TT, he worked with Heather Henderson Gordon’s La Danse Caraibe and Andre Etienne’s Performing Arts Company, taught at the School for the Blind and has conducted many outreach programs with Necessary Arts School led by Naima Thompson and actress Penelope Spencer.

Dance professor and choreographer Kieron Sargeant said when he left San Fernando to dance in Port of Spain, he joined the Barataria Community Council because of Breedy’s work there.

“I used to admire the strange dances they used to do like rat and bat and La Diablesse and soucouyant, and I was always inspired by Gregor’s work in Best Village. The way he used to choreograph was very fascinating. I grew up watching him and I used to adapt his work because it inspired me so much.

“We were always competitive in dance competitions, but I always had a lot of respect for him because I thought he had a lot to share. He was a person who used to tell you straight out when you’re doing nonsense, and some of his criticism you had to take it because it came from an honest place.”

Sargeant said Breedy was very knowledgeable and knew his work.

“He will definitely be missed. It’s a pity that our universities don’t hire local people with the knowledge of our culture to teach the younger ones. Gregor went with a library of knowledge that can now no longer be passed on to the younger generation.”

Spencer said the loss of yet another creative person was hard to bear. In a post on her Facebook page, she said, “Today is extremely sad. To have lost another creative again pains my heart!!

“Gregor Breedy’s relationship with myself and Necessary Arts has been a great one. He led our dancers to many hip hop victories, he taught classes with us, he was a friend and advisor, an institution where dance and folk was concerned. He was one of our best! So so sorry my friend, you will be missed!”

Veteran dancer and choreographer Heather Henderson-Gordon expressed condolences to Breedy’s family but said she was angry and upset to hear the news of his passing, as he had been awaiting a surgical appointment since January which kept getting rescheduled.

The Coco Dance Festival, in a post on its Facebook page, said Breedy was involved in dance for over four decades.

“We say goodbye to one of the most prolific and influential choreographers on the TT folk dance scene. Gregor Breedy choreographed and performed in modern and contemporary styles. At the time of his passing on May 30, he was writing his PhD on limbo at UTT. Thank you, Gregor, for your amazing contribution to folk dance forms in TT, and for your irascible character, your quick wit, your capacity for big infectious laughter and above all, your dedication to your craft.”

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