Stu­dents Ex­posed to Full Folk Ex­pe­ri­ence

The Star (St. Lucia) - - CULTURE - ---Clau­dia Elei­box

Ien­tered the Na­tional Cul­tural Cen­tre on Tues­day to a full house of joy­ous shrieks, clap­ping and snip­pets of the en­tire crowd singing “Woy Tin­day”. The Schools' Folk Fes­ti­val reemerged since it last oc­curred around 2009 af­ter only two out­ings, one in Pi­aye the other at the then Marigot Se­condary School. “We had to stop it,” said or­gan­iser Ja­son Joseph this week. “The main rea­son was the lack of fund­ing. Through Events Com­pany of Saint Lucia and the Folk Re­search Cen­tre I was able to bring it back this year on a small scale.”

The aim was for a bet­ter than ever come­back. There was a fo­cus on en­ter­tain­ing the stu­dents while ed­u­cat­ing them about folk cul­ture. In Joseph's vi­son, he meant for it to be ex­po­sure to all the el­e­ments span­ning mas­quer­ade, sto­ry­telling, some mod­el­ling of the tra­di­tional wear, Kwéyòl songs and dances. Usu­ally stu­dents ex­pe­ri­ence only a few as­pects of folk cul­ture in the class­room and learn just one song or dance by the time cre­ole month swings around. This time ev­ery par­tic­i­pat­ing school per­formed its own tai­lored num­ber which con­trib­uted to hav­ing some of ev­ery­thing. The stu­dents were also af­forded op­por­tu­ni­ties to ask ques­tions about any new con­cept, and en­cour­aged to speak Kwéyòl through­out the show.

“It also helped the teach­ers who had to do re­search for the per­for­mances,” Joseph said. “Some were not fa­mil­iar with cer­tain as­pects of the folk cul­ture.”

A work­shop was held for mu­sic and theatre arts teach­ers from all over the is­land two weeks prior to the Schools' Folk Fes­ti­val. They ex­plored the sounds and el­e­ments of folk mu­sic and fes­ti­vals par­tic­i­pat­ing in prac­ti­cal ex­er­cises to re­in­force in­for­ma­tion and to learn new de­tails to re­lay to their stu­dents.

“The point of it was so that they can go back to their schools with solid ma­te­rial,” said the or­gan­iser.

A mu­sic teacher at the Babon­neau Pri­mary School, Mrs. Small-Biro, found the ex­pe­ri­ence es­pe­cially in­for­ma­tive. “I learned some of the drum­ming pat­terns, which were quite dif­fi­cult, and I had to try to per­fect my tim­ing with the shak-shak so I could prop­erly teach my stu­dents. Even 'Mary Ansente', al­though I'd heard the song be­fore, I didn't re­al­ize there was so much to it.”

The fes­ti­val started at 10 a.m. and went on un­til lunch time. I per­son­ally en­joyed 'Cock Chante' as ren­dered by the St. Aloy­sius R.C. Boys' Pri­mary School, fea­tur­ing a sax­o­phon­ist on the melody and eight lit­tle drum­mers keep­ing the beat. Through­out the show the young au­di­ence, gig­gling self-con­sciously at some of the Kweyol phrases, sang along to pop­u­lar folk songs, and even got up and danced, de­spite their teach­ers' urges to re­main seated—un­der­stand­ably!

Stu­dents learned how to wear their na­tional dresses the cor­rect way in prepa­ra­tion for the Schools’ Folk Fes­ti­val.

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