Caribbean music drives new fitness classes in Edmonton

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Growing up in one of the few black families in Morinville, south of Edmonton, Cherelle George says it was her parents’ strong sense of Trinidadian identity that made her fall in love with music and dance.
In particular, she grew up with Soca, the music known for its loud and fast drumbeats that emerged in the Caribbean in the 1970s.
Now, she’s blending it with fitness, and working spread it across Edmonton.
“I’m a dancer and a teacher and I’m trying to educate people through movement how inclusive the (Caribbean) islands are,” George told Metro.
George is the founder of SocaFIT, a Caribbean-inspired fitness program that uses cardio and body weights.
For the last four years she’s taught her classes at Marr-Mac Dance and Theatre, and has been a guest dance instructor. There are also Soca influenced dance classes at Desert Rose Dance Studio.
George’s classes tap into what she said is the growing popularity for Caribbean dance culture.
“When Ed Sheeran is singing on a dancehall beat, you know the demand is there for Caribbean music and movement,” she said.
She said social media has highlighted the popularity of Caribbean carnivals, fuelling demand for music and dance classes based on Soca music. She added there’s always an increase in interest following Edmonton’s annual three-day Cariwest festival held in August.
“It’s popular now. More mainstream,” George said.
As a first generation Canadian with Trinidadian roots, she said it’s also an important link to her history.
“I was putting all this energy in other forms of dance and everything else and there was disconnect to my culture,” she said.
When her Trinidadian friends started to have kids it became clear there weren’t many classes and or activities being offered in the city that showcased Caribbean culture, she said.
As a result, she’s recently added a SocaFIT kids class.
“I want this to keep growing,” she said. “I want Soca in schools.”

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