Death of dance choreographer, teacher and scholar Gregor Breedy
Master choreographer Gregor Breedy died Monday at the age of 57.
His niece Kerryann Sealey said he had been suffering from cancer for some time and quickly outgrew it.
Breedy started dancing in 1990 with the Trinidad East Indian Dance Company, under Rajkumar Krishna Persad, before being invited to join the Barataria Best Village Group by Felix Harrington.
While with Barataria he was also taught by Peter London and Emelda Lynch-Griffith. Her dance tutelage also includes people such as Patricia Roe, Dr Carol La Chapelle, Astor Johnson, Noble Douglas, Henry Daniel, Nicole Wesley, Sonja Dumas, Cyril St Lewis, Billy Ann Balay, Suzette Sherman, David Earle, James Kudelka, Raymond Ross and André Etienne.
He studied at the Toronto Dance Theater and worked with the professional dance company Gina Lori Riley in Windsor, Ontario from 1992 to 1995. He won Best Male Choreographer in the Prime Minister’s Best Village competition 11 times. and was named Best Male Dancer. thrice. He has also won awards for his work with La Reine Rive and received a Gayelle Independence Award in 2009, among other accomplishments.
In 2014, Breedy received her BFA with honors in dance from the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). He went on to obtain his Masters in Carnival Studies under Dr Hollis Liverpool and Dr Rudolph Ottley. He was pursuing his PhD at UTT under Dr Hollis Liverpool and Professor Valerie Stoute at the time of his death.
After teaching in various pre, primary and secondary schools across TT, he worked with Heather Henderson Gordon’s La Danse Caraibe and André Etienne’s Performing Arts Company, taught at schools for the blind and led numerous outreach programs with the Necessary Arts School run by Naima Thompson. and actress Penelope Spencer.
Dance teacher and choreographer Kieron Sargeant said that upon leaving San Fernando to dance in Port of Spain, he joined the Barataria community council because of Breedy’s work there.
“I admired the weird dances they did like the Rat and the Bat and The Devil and the Saucer, and I’ve always been inspired by Gregor’s work in Best Village. His way of choreographing was very fascinating. I grew up watching him and used to adapt his work because he inspired me so much.
“We were always competitive in dance competitions, but I always had a lot of respect for him because I thought he had a lot to share. He was a person who used to tell you straight up when you were doing stupid things, and some of his criticisms, you had to accept them because they came from an honest place.
Sargeant said Breedy was very competent and knew his job.
“He will definitely be missed. It’s a shame that our universities don’t hire local people who know our culture to teach the younger ones. Gregor left with a library of knowledge that can no longer be passed on to the younger generation.
Spencer said the loss of another creative person was hard to bear. In a post on her Facebook page, she said: “Today is extremely sad. It hurts my heart to lose yet another creative!!
“Gregor Breedy’s relationship with myself and Necessary Arts has been great. He led our dancers to many hip hop victories, he taught classes with us, he was a friend and advisor, an institution in dance and folk. He was one of our best! So sorry my friend, we will miss you!
Veteran dancer and choreographer Heather Henderson-Gordon expressed her condolences to Breedy’s family, but said she was angry and upset to hear the news of his passing, as he had been waiting for a surgery appointment since January, which kept getting postponed.
The Coco Dance Festival, in a post on its Facebook page, said Breedy has been involved in dance for more than four decades.
“We say farewell to one of the most prolific and influential choreographers on the TT folk dance scene. Gregor Breedy choreographed and performed in modern and contemporary styles. At the time of his death on May 30, he was writing his dissertation on Limbo at UTT. Thank you, Gregor, for your incredible contribution to folk dance forms in TT, and for your irascible character, quick wit, ability to have big contagious laughs, and above all, your dedication to your job.