Friday, September 30, 2016 ♦ 8:30 PM
4545 N Lincoln Ave · The Myron R. Szold Music & Dance Hall · 773.728.6000
The Global Dance Party series offers an exciting opportunity to experiment with dance styles from around the globe. Each evening will feature a dance class followed by two hours of music from live bands or DJs in our Myron R. Szold Music & Dance Hall.
Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, “Fred Baker started dancing at the age of six in area tourist resorts. Using his natural ability dancing jitterbug, or ska as it is called in Jamaica, he embarked on a tour of the West Indies at the age of 10. On returning to Jamaica, Baker received his first professional dance training from Mr. Alan Ivanhoe, of the National Dance Theatre of Jamaica. After leaving Jamaica for New York, he studied under Madam Ashkin, Neville Black, Mr. Boscoe Holder, and immersed himself in Jazz, Ballet, Dunham, and Graham technique classes.
After a decade of touring Europe, Baker returned home to Jamaica and recognizing the need to create and maintain an authentic West Indian Dance company in his native hometown of Montego Bay, he took the challenge. In 1971, “Mr. Baker” founded and served as artistic director and choreographer of the Western Jamaica Folk Dance Theater Co. which later evolved into the West Indian Folk Dance Company to be more inclusive of other Caribbean Nationals. With the support of the honorable Rex Nettleford, Vice Chancellor of the University of West Indies in Kingston, the company operated for seven years, training to become an accredited institution. WIFDC eventually migrated to Chicago as part of a cultural exchange program in 1978, sponsored by the Jamaican government, and has become an integral part of the West Side Chicago community of Austin.
“Mr. Baker” has trained thousands of dancers and musicians, many of whom have gone on to professional careers in the arts, and he remains a vital part of the Chicago cultural arts education community -- maintaining his own professional dance company as well as training youth in the Chicago public schools via After School Matters and the Columbia College Community Arts Partnership, recently honored by Mrs. Obama and the White House for its impact on youth through high quality after school arts instruction.