Much ado about dance
Dance, dance and more dance was the topic during the International Diaspora Arts Festival that started last month and ended last week at the University of the West Indies.
Getting its own four-day forum, the Inaugural Season of Dance was part of that event and a series of workshops and productions were held.
With many visiting dancers and teachers of dance at the event, talks were given on J’Ouvert, Improvisation, Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brasilian dance.
Dancer and choreographer Yulanda Knights is studying for a masters of arts in Dance education and is also the director of Dance at the Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts.
She spoke on choreography and how too many bodies are being asked to learn different genres of dance:?“This makes the choreographies become stale . . . . If you train in everything you cannot specialise in one thing.”
She spoke of how semantics are jeopardising the legacies passed down from the forefathers.
“Our ancestors have worked hard to create dance for our types of bodies. If you combine all you lose pieces of it and it beomes whitewashed, watered down and abstracted.
Barbadian dancer and teacher Ian Douglas spoke about the “loss” of the drum and its relationship with the Bajan body.
“We have to revist and correct many things. The uniquness of the Bajan body is understood by the our culture to get where we want to go in terms of dance.”
Wukking Up, a subject of a PhD dissertation by dancer John Hunte, was also spoken of and three songs in particular were attached to the topic – Gabby’s Jack, Culture and Wuk Up.
Over the course of the four days, productions on different genres of dance were presented and local groups got a chance to show their routines.