The West Indian Dance Theater Company
The West Indian Dance Theater Company shares with audiences traditional and contemporary Afro-Caribbean folk and Island dance, music and song. We are comprised of musicians, singers and dancers. Our musicians come together with Conga drums and other handheld percussion along with folk singers to produce a vibrant section of lively and spiritual music which accompanies the dancers throughout a typical performance.
Dancers are the center of the performance delivering a colorful array of dances that tell stories of island life and spiritual roots of the Caribbean islands. We can provide an interactive section during a performance of a "mini dance class on stage," the limbo game that ends in the crowing of a King and Queen; and/or call and response singing of the delightful folk songs. (The aforementioned roots music section is also available as a stand alone section, typically for mini-sets for event ambiance).
Mr. Alfred Baker - Artistic Director/Founder
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. Our community is constantly enriched by his great teaching, performance, singing, drumming and historic storytelling gifts and dedication to preserving Afro-Caribbean traditions