Rushell Malcolm following her passion

By Aaliyah Cunningham
Observer writer

Friday, June 07, 2019

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Hailing from Montego Bay, Rushell Malcolm is balancing a legal career and her passion for dance.

“I've just been moving ever since I was born, according to my parents... I'd practice in my playroom at home on my makeshift stage and put on performances for my family at major events, like Christmas dinners,” the 24-year-old told the Jamaica Observer's Splash.

“I found it to be something arbitrary at the time and later realised that it was a talent or gift, and I've just been striving to hone my craft to become better at it each day,” she continued.

Malcolm trains with the Kingston City Ballet. So far, she has been featured in productions such as Jamaica Dance Umbrella, and the Your View Awards.

A past student of Montego Bay High School, Malcolm capitalised on dance training there. She joined the dance troupe and went on to win several medals in Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) dance competitions.

“I didn't have YouTube or anything else as a guide but I'll just hear music and instantly know what to do, but then my high school English/dance teacher had dance training herself and she basically taught me contemporary,” Malcolm explained.

Last year she branched out into acting, playing the voice of a 50-year-old African woman in AGWE, an animated film directed by Ina Sotirov and produced by Tanya Batson-Savage.

“I auditioned for the role when I saw it being advertised. During the entire training session, though it was just voice acting, I felt this kind of letting go. It was just therapeutic to be surrounded by all the aspects of film and having to evoke just as much emotion as the character I played. It's exciting to know I can adequately fit in different roles,” she said.

Inspired by dancer/scholar Rex Nettleford and playwright/actress Dahlia Harris, Malcolm aspires to go beyond the arts. She pursued a career in law at The University of the West Indies and the Norman Manley Law School where she met assignment deadlines, made it to rehearsals and completed humanitarian duties.

“I realised in the early stages of my tenure at the Faculty of Law that I wanted to contribute more to my community and country overall. As a result, I made it my duty to team up with my colleagues and using available resources to extend a helping hand to my community,” she said.

Malcolm has participated in several humanitarian projects. They include Eve For Life which provides rehabilitation for sexually-abused victims in Montego Bay; dance intensives with girls in her hometown, who may not have access to formal training, and a mentorship programme in central Kingston that teaches dance, acting and singing.

Currently, she works with actors and directors to educate and empower artistes about their legal rights, mainly in intellectual property and contracts.

She advises young creatives who find it difficult to strike a balance between arts and academics to devise a work structure that allows them to manage their time wisely.

“There was a period when I stopped dancing because I felt it was necessary in order to become an attorney. It was when I decided that I no longer wanted to sit on my talent that I became happier. It was from that 'ah ha' moment that I genuinely started to enjoy the mental gymnastics that law contributed to my development; the physical and creative challenge of dance and then appreciating how they can coexist to manifest into something bigger than myself,” Malcolm explained.

Once established, she hopes to help develop the arts in Montego Bay.

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