Riverside Angels’ unique dance routines led to int’l recognition

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Riverside Angels dancing in Qatar 2022

A budding team that started with 12 dancers between the ages of six and seven has later been reduced to a core of four who have undoubtedly grown to huge fame within Guyana by captivating scores of people with their performances.

Several of their members moved on after taking up family responsibilities, but the team remains alive today because of the dedication of four sisters – Elizabeth David, Reahna Baird, Leahna Emmanuel, and Inezi Emmanuel – whose talents have led to the group being recognised on the global stage.

The Riverside Angels enthusiastically perform at various small community events, and at Guyana’s Republic celebrations. With most of their dancers living in communities on the West Bank Demerara, the group has chosen a name that best represents its geographic location. However, with numbers dwindling, leader of the group, Pearla Larson, who is also the mother of the four girls, continued to nurture the remaining talents. Her commitment to dance and her daughters’ enthusiasm did not go unnoticed. They continue to perform at school and church events, Mashramani competitions, and at other programmes.

During one of those performances, an observer was impressed by the girls’ talent and approached Larson, encouraging her to introduce the group to larger, more prestigious events, including those hosted by Government. Hesitant at first, Larson finally decided to embrace the opportunity, marking the beginning of a new chapter for the Riverside Angels.Soon after, the all-girl group started to perform at Government events, and that was the turning point in their careers.

The high point of their careers came when they were invited to perform at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. This invitation was a testament to their hard work and exceptional talent. For Larson and her troupe of devoted dancers, this was more than just a performance; it was the realization of a childhood dream. Larson recalls how, as little girls, they would watch the World Cup on television, dreaming of one day witnessing it in person. The invitation to perform at the World Cup was a dream come true, and an overwhelming experience for the entire family.

“Every year, the girls would watch television and would be so engulfed in the performances. One day, the opportunity came for them to do what they love on that world stage,” Larson shared.

Larson also expressed that, despite the dance group’s success, it still faces challenges.“Sourcing fresh and suitable cultural Amerindian music for their performances remains a struggle. Additionally, one significant hurdle is expanding the group; finding new members is difficult due to societal and parental concerns about committing to a dance group,” she explained.

According to Larson, entities would ask the girls to perform routines to one type of music, but it is quite difficult to find songs that are relative to the cultural tribes of the Amerindian people.

“The challenges right now are the music – the Amerindian music, and the Amerindian songs. That’s the hardest I would find, so sometimes I use the flute or other instruments during the girls’ performances,” she revealed. “The Guyanese Amerindian songs that they have in the country right now have been circulating for a very long time,” she relayed.

However, these challenges have not dampened their determination. The leader envisions a future in which the Riverside Angels continue to grow and evolve, bringing new dancers into the fold and expanding their repertoire.

Her goal is to ensure that the group not only survives, but thrives while simultaneously continuing to represent their cultural heritage on both local and international stages.“I really want to see this dance group grow in numbers, so that other people can experience what it’s like to make their dreams come true and showcase their country on a large scale,” she expressed.

As they look to the future, the Riverside Angels remain committed to their craft, overcoming challenges and embracing new opportunities. Only recently, the group performed at the welcoming ceremony at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport for the men’s ICC T20 teams. Their story is a powerful reminder of the impact of dedication, family, and cultural pride.

The Riverside Angels are not just a dance group, but a symbol of perseverance and the enduring power of dreams.