Dance fraternity mourns dancer, educator ‘Aunty Thora’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Thora Dumbell. –

THE performing arts fraternity is mourning iconic dance educator Thora Dumbell, fondly called “Aunty Thora,” who died at age 98.

She died on November 4.

Dumbell was the founder of Thora Dumbell’s School of Dance and was heavily involved in the performing arts over the years.

She also got the Hummingbird Medal (Gold) in 1978 for community service.

A Facebook post by the Little Carib Theatre and Folk House said, “Thora Dumbell, affectionately known as ‘Aunty Thora’ to her generations of students, has passed away at the age of 98. She founded her dance school in 1950 and continued classes until the 2000s.

“She leaves behind a legacy of commitment to dance education. May she rest in peace.”

Fellow dancer, choreographer and dance educator Nancy Herrera told Newsday that Dumbell was the most “people person” she had ever known.

“She walked into a room, she lit up the room, she made everybody feel special, she listened to them and she made them laugh.

“She was full of life and energy and passion.”

Herrera said Dumbell was a “very close family friend,” and while she was called Aunty Thora by many, “she was like my actual aunt that I’d call aunty Thora.

“(For her, the performing arts) was about involvement and enjoyment,” she said, noting that Dumbell held many seasonal events for Carnival, Christmas and Easter.

“Now, in the 21st century that may not sound appealing, but for people form that era that was a huge childhood memory.”

She said Dumbell not only highlighted the importance of dance, but costuming and theatre.

“She was very special.”

Asked how she felt about Dumbell’s passing, Herrera said, “For me it’s a sadness because that’s a generation that has gone.

“For me, she was eternal…She was aunty Thora, she would forever live.

“It’s very nostalgic because it’s like looking backwards in time to a quieter, calmer, different Trinidad.”

Herrera said while Dumbell had a small physique, “When she walked into the theatre, you knew that she was there.

“She was a big light, a big personality in a little body.”

Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalised.