Goussy Cèlestin | Haitian Folk Dance & Jazz
My name is Goussy (pronounced Goo-Cee, with the accent on the 2nd syllable) and I am a musician, dancer, and composer. I love to dance, sing, play piano and write songs. I started teaching myself to play piano at 4 years old, mimicking the melodies I heard TV on the piano that was at my dance school. I began formal piano lessons when I was 6 years old and I have been playing ever since. The dance school that I went to as a little girl taught modern dance, ballet, and my favorite – traditional Haitian Folkloric dance. I loved this style of dance the most because the rhythmic drumming made me naturally want to move. It was like hearing your heartbeat outside yourself and needing to connect with it, like a magnet.
I have been performing in front of people for a long time, starting when I used to give piano recitals as a child. I believe this experience helped me to feel comfortable being in front of people. When I was a teenager I was attracted to being in a jazz band because of the fact that the musicians in the group are able to work together but there is still room for self-expression, providing artists with a space to improvise and share their individual voices.
What I love most about teaching is sharing my culture whilst collaborating and encouraging everyone to work together, much like in a jazz band. A unique and important part of this collaborative energy, is the individual voice is important and I make sure to incorporate elements of both the collective and the individual in my teaching, whether I am giving a dance class or a music class.
What students and teachers say about Goussy:
“My name is MD Hossen from Class 2-202. We worked with Ms. Goussy and learned the Haitian dance called Ibo Lele. This dance celebrates our ancestors or the ones that came before us. In this residency with City Lore, we learned how to sing the song Ibo Lele while bounding to the beat by clapping your hands and following the rhythm.”
— MD Hossen, Class 2-202, P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights, Queens
“My name is Bianca Isabella Rojas from Class 2-202. In this residency, I rally liked clapping to the beat and listening to the music. It made me feel that my ancestors were there with me having fun.
— Bianca Rojas, Class 2-202, P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights, Queens