biographies

Michael Manswell - (Artistic Director)

Michael
                        ManswellDancer, Singer, Choreographer, Teaching Artist, Artistic Director, Michael Manswell began his artistic life as a storyteller at arts festivals winning many prizes and awards. He studied music with Lindy-Anne Bodden-Ritch and at Brooklyn College with Tom Cultice. As a singer he has toured Europe, the UK, and the Caribbean and has performed as a soloist in many productions of opera and oratorio including Dido & Aeneas, Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Fledermaus, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Messiah, Missa Criola and Missa Luba. He studied dance at the Trinidad Dance Theater with Eugene Joseph training in Modern, Ballet, Jazz, Ballroom, and Folkloric styles. Michael worked with Geoffrey Holder on “Dougla II” and “La Valse des Bakas” for TDT and toured with the company in the USA and the Caribbean. A prolific choreographer he has crated many works currently in the repertoire of Something Positive as well as “Once Upon This Island” (Packer Collegiate Inst.), and “Belle” (Brooklyn College). An orisha devotee in the Yoruba religion (Trinidad & Tobago) Mr. Manswell presents lectures and workshops in dance, music, and the traditional religious practice and has worked closely with the Interfaith Center and the Caribbean Cultural Center in their programs. Mr. Manswell was named one of “Brooklyn's Black Men of Distinction 2000” and “Brooklyn's Black Dance Kings 2010”. He is currently teaching for Something Positive Inc., the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL), the Brooklyn Arts Council, the Caribbean Cultural Center and is an Adjunct Professor of Dance at Lehman College (CUNY).

Cynthia Salandy - (Deputy Artistic Director)

Cynthia
                        Salandy

Dancer, Designer, Visual Teaching Artist, Cynthia began her artistic life as a dancer in her native land, Trinidad & Tobago. Trained in Modern, Ballet, Jazz & Folkloric styles, “Cinti” as she is affectionately known, was and still is the consummate performer. Featured in many productions including Ms. World Trinidad & Tobago, Carnival presentations, television and theatrical performances, she brings to the design world a clear understanding of the needs of the performer. As a visual artist and designer herself, exceptional technical training and expertise has equipped her with the ability to both create and produce.

 Twenty plus years of work experience with Carnival and theatrical presentations for children and adults have imbued her with a plethora of creative energy and ideas. Coordinating and organizing these productions successfully gives her the unique ability to contribute meaningfully to a wide range of artistic endeavors. She has created costumes that have either won pageants and/or received special commendations from judges for their “exceptional design and expert craftsmanship.” She also has a history of outstanding and selfless public and community service.

For the past 21 years she has served as Artistic Advisor, Costume Designer, Teaching Assistant, Performer and presently Deputy Director of Something Positive. Currently she continues her selfless endeavors with a nonprofit company, Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), a Real Estate purchase program, which focuses on servicing that section of the population who suffered through the Mortgage crisis, counseling them through home ownership. She has travelled across North America changing lives and revitalizing neighborhoods through this purchase program.

Shaun M. Rasmussen - (Associate Artistic Director)

Shaun M.
                          Rasmussen

Shaun M. Rasmussen was born in Brooklyn, New York and is of Trinidadian and Danish descent. Shaun has a Bachelors Degree in International Criminal Justice and a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership. Shaun began working with Something Positive in 1998, training with Cheryl Byron and Michael Manswell, and became an official member of the company in 2003. In 2007, he was appointed Associate Director of Something Positive. As a member of Something Positive, Shaun has toured with company both Nationally and Internationally, and performed at venues including Queens Park Savannah in Trinidad, El Teatro Melico Salazar in Costa Rica and Lincoln Center, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 92nd Street Y, and the African Burial Ground National Monument.

 In addition to his work with Something Positive, Shaun has worked with Dance Troupe of the West Indies based in Connecticut; Balance Dance Theater, under the direction of Obediah Wright; and Bahamian Dance Theatre Company in Nassau, Bahamas. Shaun has appeared in international print ad campaigns for Coskel University clothing and international commercials for Smirnoff. Sharing the vision of the founder of Something Positive, Cheryl Byron; Shaun believes that “youth are our finest investment,” and has also worked in the area of education and youth development for more than 10 years.

Jamal George - (treasurer)

Jamal GeorgeBorn in the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Jamal Jerry George began exploring the world of performing arts at the tender age of nine. Jamal became a prolific storyteller, participating in storytelling competitions and entertaining audiences across Trinidad and Tobago. He was the winner of the National Library School’s Storytelling Competition for three consecutive years before entering Bishop’s High School in 2001. It was in 2001 that Jamal began singing calypso and soon became a household name in his country. He has performed at a number of events ranging from opening The Mighty Sparrow’s annual concert to Nelson Mandela’s visit to Trinidad and Tobago. Always determined to go the extra mile to achieve a sense of all-roundedness, Jamal started training as a dancer at the Tobago Academy of Performing Arts in 2003. He remained a member of the junior performing company until graduating high school in 2006.

After successfully completing high school as an honors student, he worked in television and radio production before migrating to the United States. At age 16, Jamal began studying Liberal Arts at the University of North Carolina. In 2008, he relocated to New York City to continue his studies at the City College of New York and now holds a BA in Media and Communication Arts with a specialization in Advertising and Public Relations. Jamal belongs to the Golden Key International Honors Society and is also a City College Kaye Scholar. Jamal joined Something Positive Dance Company in 2009.

 

 

 

 

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