Destiny Chukunyere’s team has defended its decision to have foreign dancers accompany the singer at the Eurovision Song Contest after local artists and dancers expressed their outrage at the decision.
“The team for the Eurovision Song Contest is made up of a Maltese team – hair, make-up, costume design, stylist, vocal coach, dance coach, PR, marketing and management, as well as Sacha Jean Baptiste and Sony Music,” a spokesperson for Destiny said.
The 18-year-old singer will be performing her song, Je Me Casse, in Rotterdam, in May, after last year’s festival was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Last week, eurovoix news announced the names of the four dancers who are to join her on stage. Kim Pastor, Milena Jacuniak, Pauline Edderborn and Jennifer Pacaanas all come from the company Jean Baptiste Group, which is run by Sacha Jean-Baptiste, Destiny’s Eurovision 2021 stage director.
“The selection of Sacha Jean Baptiste as artist director and choreographer meant that her team would accompany our artist on stage,” Destiny’s spokesperson said.
Following the announcement, a number of dancers expressed their disappointment and pointed out that local dancers continue to be sidelined and ignored. Some claimed local performers are not given the same opportunity to audition for international shows.
We were good enough to create the music video, choreograph and perform in it
“I was disappointed when I heard the news at first but we are trying our best to move forward for the future generation of dancers and artists,” Daphne Gatt, one of the directors of Kinetic Dance Academy, said.
Gatt, along with Clayton Mifsud, choreographed Destiny’s Je Ma Casse Eurovision music video, which featured local dancers.
“We were good enough to create the music video, choreograph and perform in it but sad to see that foreign dancers were selected to represent Malta,” Gatt wrote on Facebook.
Gatt and Mifsud said that the choice of foreign dancers has caused tension and arguments among dancers, with some also criticising and differentiating between who is a professional dancer or not.
“Now is the time to stand together and move forward as a community but we are seeing dancers pointing fingers at one another, which should not be the case,” Gatt said.
Mifsud added: “We want to ensure that the arts and dance sector is taken more seriously.
“Projects like putting together a music video is not a hobby of ours but our job and should be taken more seriously.”
Both Mifsud and Gatt also wanted to clarify that they did not want to criticise Destiny and knew she had no say in the production team.
Kim Elloole, a professional dancer and full-time teacher, said that this is something that happens often in the dance and art sector.
“I think that, in the current situation, this hit home because at a time when we should be supporting the local agenda, it seems as though we are ready to do so only with words and not by providing concrete and paid work,” she said.
Elloole’s biggest concern is the impact this will have on younger, aspiring performers.
“They might look at the local industry, for lack of better words, as not being good enough,” she said.