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Sade Ellis Sambaing With The Stars

By Gizelle Morris Sunday, July 13 2014

Trinidad and Tobago’s national football team may be out of the action at the 2014 World Cup but local dancer Sade Ellis is flying the flag high having made her mark on the event performing alongside three Latin super stars.

Ellis, 28, is one of three Samba dancers who were selected to perform alongside Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez and Brazilian musician Claudia Leitte in the music video for FIFA’s official World Cup theme song We Are One (Ole Ola).

The video, which opens with clips of Brazil’s past World Cup matches, shows Ellis displaying her Samba skills dressed in Brazil’s team colours.

While the song, which according to reports by the Associated Press and other international news agencies, has been roundly criticised by Brazilians, who believe it is a poor representation of Brazil’s rich musical heritage, the video is upbeat, celebratory and full of the colour and energy the South American nation is known for.

Ironically, Ellis credits the Brazilians she met while in the United States with opening the door which led to the opportunity to appear in the music video.

After completing her degree in Computer Drafting at the Florida Technical College in Orlando, Ellis moved to Los Angeles to take up dancing. It was while learning to dance that she met several Brazilians who, impressed with her natural talent, invited Ellis to join a Samba group.

“If if weren’t for the Brazilians,” Ellis said, “I would not have stayed in the (United) States so long; The Brazilians took me in like family.” She explained that in the US dancing is like a competition, where everyone is pulling at each other to clamber to the top, but the Brazilian dance community offered support and a welcome refuge from the harsh competition.

Ellis’ reputation in the Brazilian dance community grew as she topped Samba competitions and performed at Brazilian Carnival events in the United States. When the opportunity came to audition for the music video she left Los Angeles for Miami and tried her luck. It was a whole day of auditions with dancers from all over the United States, but in the end, the soft-spoken Trini girl with the hot Samba moves came out on top.

Her Samba skills even caught the attention of iconic Brazilian songstress Leitte who complimented her while filming the music video.

“Claudia started speaking to me in Portuguese, thinking I am Brazilian. I told her I am from Trinidad and she told my Samba was so good she thought I was Brazilian,” said Ellis who described the moment as a special highlight in memorable day.

The shoot, far from being glamorous, lasted from 7am to 6pm and for much of that time she was being jostled from behind by the crowd of extras who wanted to be closer to action, while dancing in stiletto heels. She was even stepped on by Pitbull, who apologised.

“People were pushing to be in front of the cameras and to be closer to the stars and I felt uncomfortable being in front of people who wanted to be on stage,” said Ellis who recalled that the pressure of the crowd eased when the lead dancers, along with the singers, were relocated atop a platform above the crowd.

What the pop stars and many of the professional dancers on set would not have known, or perhaps believed, was that Ellis had only been dancing for two years.

“I had no background in dance, the most I did was some gymnastics for a few months because I wanted to try it out,” she revealed.

Ellis described dancing as her lifelong dream and passion, but dance schools in the United States were too expensive for her to even consider. It was only after she completed her degree that she began taking dance classes and everything else that followed was a case of having the right attitude, being in the right place at the right time and among the right people.

“I was not part of one dance group, but many,” Ellis said of her time as a dancer in the US. Now back home after six years in the US and living her dream of performing on stage, the dancer is looking forward to travelling and further developing her technique.

“If I go back the US, it will be because of an opportunity. While I was there I realised that the States is not the only place that has what I want and I am looking forward to visiting Brazil and Australia, so instead of going back to what I know, I want to try out different things,” she explained.

In the interim, Ellis is teaching and looking forward to establishing a dance studio. Her next workshop will be at an event hosted on August 9, at Sforzata Panyard in Curepe by local capoeira group Capoeira Camara. The event, which will be patterned after a Brazilian Samba street festival, is being touted by the organizers as Trinidad and Tobago’s first Samba workshop to include capoeira.

For more information or to purchase tickets for A Brazilian Street Samba Festival to see Ellis in action contact Azula at 336-5227, Velho at 784-2428 or email trinicapoeira@hotmail.com

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