Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10.
Fitness instructor, Artistic Director at ContempoCaribe and Founding Executive Director of Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE
Candace Thompson ’08 was born to dance.
Thompson, a Trinidad and Tobago native, discovered her love of dance at a young age. “I’ve been dancing since I was five years old,” she said. “It wasn’t until I was 15 though, that I decided I wanted to pursue dance as a career.”
She enrolled at Adelphi in the fall of 2005 and majored in dance with a minor in Spanish. “I chose Adelphi because it was close to New York City and it was a small, intimate campus,” she said. “Adelphi also offered me the opportunity to study languages, which is my second love.” Thompson then said, “My family sacrificed a lot for me to go to Adelphi. So did my friends. I think it’s really important to recognize the people in your life who made it all possible.”
When she arrived at Adelphi, Thompson already had extensive training in dance. In Trinidad and Tobago, she had received instruction in modern dance and ballet under the tutelage of Heather Henderson-Gordon, one of the country’s leading dance choreographers.
While at Adelphi, Thompson received the Ruth St. Denis Award from the dance department. The prestigious award, which is named after a pioneer of dance and the founder of Adelphi’s dance department, is given to one of the University’s most exceptional dance students.
Among Thompson’s fondest memories of Adelphi were events hosted by International Student Services (ISS) and Dance Adelphi, an event that takes place twice a year (in the spring and fall) that showcases the talent of Adelphi’s dancers and features pieces by some of the most renowned choreographers in the world.
Two of Thompson’s favorite professors at Adelphi were Professor Pollard and Professor Augustyn. “My professors believed in me,” Thompson said. “I was always able to approach them. They gave me guidance and after graduation they gave me recommendations.”
Thompson graduated from Adelphi in 2008 after only three years at the University. One of the recommendations Thompson received from Professor Pollard was to INSPIRIT, a dance company that was founded with the sole purpose of bringing together and showcasing emerging African-American female artists and choreographers. After auditioning, Thompson became a member of the dance company and spent the next four years training and performing with the supremely talented group of dancers. During that time, Thompson also became a certified fitness professional, specializing in personal training and group fitness. She has taught fitness classes in gyms and homes across the tristate area including several classes at Adelphi.
In 2014, Thompson made the bold decision to start her own dance projects: ContempoCaribe and Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE. As the artistic director at ContempoCaribe, Thompson choreographs performances that reflect and embody a variety of experiences within the Caribbean community. In her role as the founding executive director of Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE, she oversees a collaborative group that creates platforms for artists who are developing work from a Caribbean perspective. “We want to tell our own stories and be authentic,” she said. “It’s important to us and the people in our community. A lot of it is the desire to see ourselves in ways we believe we really are.”
Thompson is always seeking new avenues to hone her artistic skills. In addition to her roles as the artistic director at ContempoCaribe and founding executive director of Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE, she is currently performing with Areytos Performance Works, Elle NYTT, Renegade Performance Group and Sydnie L. Mosley Dances. She is also a part of the Dancing While Black Fellowship Cohort, an artist-led initiative that supports the diverse work of black dance artists by cultivating platforms for process, performance, dialogue and documentation.
She credits Adelphi with preparing her for her career. “Had I gone to another school, things would have been very different,” she said. “At Adelphi I received attention when I needed it but I also learned how to be responsible.”
Her advice to current students is, “You don’t realize how lucky you are to have this time to learn and grow. You will never get that time back. Learn to use your free time wisely. Learn about the field of work you want to enter. You might think you know it all; you don’t. Be open to new opportunities and experiences.”