If you re­move the 'd' from drum, what do you have?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The first in­au­gu­ral An­tigua and Bar­buda In­ter­na­tional Folk Dance and Mu­sic Fes­ti­val was held in An­tigua & Bar­buda from June 25 to July 2, 2018. It is not the first time An­tigua & Bar­buda has taken the lead in the arts, or even in cel­e­brat­ing folk dance. Al­though, with the loom­ing threat of civil un­rest in Bar­buda, this fes­ti­val saw many vic­to­ries, as chal­lenges did not thwart the plans of the de­part­ment of cul­ture.

The Sen­a­tor within the Min­istry of Sports, Cul­ture and Na­tional Fes­ti­vals in An­tigua and Bar­buda, hon­ourable Daryll Mathew con­fessed, “I ap­pre­ci­ate the art; I am not artis­tic.” The min­is­ter lent a dili­gent ear to the pro­posal of a re­gional dance theatre com­pany, aris­ing from this first in­au­gu­ral ren­con­tre, clar­i­fy­ing and for­ti­fy­ing the need for a higher qual­ity prod­uct for the tourism sec­tor as well.

The can­dour and vi­sion of the min­istry was fur­ther em­pha­sized by the per­ma­nent sec­re­tary within the An­tigua, Bar­buda Min­istry of Sports, Cul­ture and Fes­ti­val events Mrs. Sarah Stu­art-Joseph and Ms San­dra Joseph. The PS made it her duty to at­tend ev­ery event re­lat­ing to the fes­ti­val, re­mark­ing on the ar­eas for im­prove­ment, but laud­ing the ex­cel­lence, artistry and pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the tech­ni­cal and artis­tic dis­plays. Richard Am­brose of Saint Lu­cia came up for high note in his use of pro­jected video and his dra­maturgy in dance at that meet­ing.

The di­rec­tion of cul­ture is a se­ri­ous af­fair in An­tigua & Bar­buda. The Di­rec­tor of Cul­ture, Mr. Vaughn Wal­ter M.B.E., him­self an avid theatre en­thu­si­ast, not only staged a play, but or­ches­trated that the co-or­di­na­tion of the fes­ti­val and ameni­ties met with un­par­al­leled sup­port for the dance fes­ti­val. His un­ex­pected ap­pear­ance at the open­ing cer­e­mony (hav­ing mo­ments be­fore, ar­rived from a Car­ifesta 2021 plan­ning meet­ing) lent words of strength, sup­port and an al­most bat­tle cry sig­nalling the glory and ur­gency of arts de­vel­op­ment within the re­gion. He re­as­sured his sub­or­di­nates of his com­mit­ment to serve the arts: ” I have a heart for cul­ture.”

But it is es­sen­tially Mr. Roy Gil­bert Lau­dat, Di­rec­tor of Events within the cul­tural di­vi­sion, who con­vinced the over­seas tu­tors to come to An­tigua & Bar­buda for this in­au­gu­ral fes­ti­val. Mr. Lau­dat’s years of ex­pe­ri­ence, knowl­edge and work in the arts has taken him all over the world and, though it is a daunt­ing task, he has not waivered in mo­ti­vat­ing his staff, coun­try­men, young artistes and oth­ers in the re­gion, help­ing them re­al­ize that there is much to gain in ‘per­fect­ing one’s craft’. His in­vi­ta­tions ex­tended as far south as Trinidad and Tobago, and as far north as Toronto, Canada.

The in­tox­i­ca­tion of the dance, the mu­sic, the drum whet the en­tire fes­ti­val. But one last­ing im­pres­sion will be that of the chore­og­ra­phy earthed by Dr. Ian Dou­glas and a band of dancers. Lo­cal dancers of An­tigua, Bar­buda and tu­tors in­clud­ing Karen Brookes of Pas­sion de danse and Tavia Hunte of Shiva dance acad­emy, along with Thyanna Se­bastien of Elite dancers and some young dancers who par­tic­i­pated in the work­shop, pre­sented a life-like story.

Look out Caribbean be­cause the ‘Eth­nic Folk Arts ensem­ble’ strips bare, re­mov­ing the ‘d’, ex­tract­ing the rum, the essence of Caribbean aes­thet­ics, lay­ing it bare, chal­leng­ing the au­di­ence through so­phis­ti­cated tableaux and con­tem­po­rary vo­cab­u­lary set in tra­di­tional mus­ings.

Their next stop is Saint Lu­cia.

Left to right: Al­li­son Trun­zer, Dr. Ian Dou­glas, Sen­a­tor Daryll Mathew, Gil­bert Lau­dat, and Richard Am­brose who par­tic­i­pated in the first In­ter­na­tional Folk Dance and Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

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