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EASY MAGAZINE: Lisa – always dancing to the beat


SHERIA BRATHWAITE

EASY MAGAZINE: Lisa – always dancing to the beat

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There is another side to Lisa Brome that many people don’t know.

While she is very comfortable before the camera reading your nightly news, she is not the average news anchor. She is a proud country girl who loves to move her body to the beat of drums and any other musical instrument with a rukatuk rhythm or booming bass.

She became very passionate about dance as a little girl growing up in Coach Hill, St John.

“I have a big extended family. My brother and I were really close and we used to run around barefoot with our cousins every evening after school. Every day my uncle played music from Trinidad and Tobago and Antigua so I grew up knowing music from Sparrow and King Short Shirt. I do not know exactly where my love for music came from but I just know that I always loved dancing to music. 

“Recently my cousin reminded me of what my grandmother used to say about me: ‘Lisa just got to hear two tots knock and she gone’. And that is how it is literally with me even up to this day. So long as I hear a rhythm I am ready.” 

Lisa says hearing a rhythm is so innate to her that she unconsciously dances at work.

“When I am at work and hear someone printing a lot of stuff I listen closely. When I pick up the pattern I would start bouncing without realising until someone asks me what I am doing.”

Her first taste of dance came from watching the Pinelands group on TV.

“After seeing them perform I really wanted to join a dance group. I remember asking my mum about joining Pinelands and she said, ‘You are not going to do it’. But I did not give up on dancing. When I attended Metropolitan High School my best friend at the time asked me what extracurricular activities I wanted to join but the only thing that stood out to me was the dance society. 

“At first it was difficult learning dance techniques because I did not know anything about ballet or modern. I was lost and had no clue of what I was doing but I was eager to learn.

Lisa is a member of the 30-year-old Danse Nationale Afrique group founded by Cavil Best.

“When we perform it is like magic, and our specialty is African dancing. When the drums start and the girls start to fly and move to the beat it is a sight to see. We perform at several hotels in the island, on cruise ships and we went on tours overseas. As recent as 2008 we represented Barbados in Spain.

“I must admit that African dancing is a lot of fun, mostly because it is upbeat and you have to move your waist. As we would say in Bajan parlance I love a piece of wukking up. It is something natural and intrinsic to us because African blood flows through our veins.”

Danse Nationale Afrique performs on the local circuit and is extremely busy during the tourist season.

One of the famous Bajan characters is a Mother Sally, known for her large derriere and buxom breasts. The dance group does various dance pieces that incorporate acts such as limbo dancing and the Mother Sally. Brome is at her best as Mother Sally. She likes the costume with the extra padding and the exaggerated wuk up movements that come with the piece.

“Sometimes I finish work at 8 and have an 8:30 p.m. performance. I get to the event at 8:25 and have five minutes to put on costume and make-up . . . .It is a rush, but I love it”, she said, while admitying a love for Coca-Cola and Hills corncurls.

Before Brome became a journalist she aspired to be a lawyer. She enjoyed reading books and keeping abreast of current affairs. She could argue her views strongly and if she was wrong she did not back down.

“Pretty much all of my life I wanted to be a lawyer. I used to talk a lot and argue with my friends so I figured I should have been a lawyer because of that but it did not happen. I ended up in the media and started out at the Barbados Advocate after graduating from the University of the West Indies with a degree in history. After that I moved to Starcom Network for about three years.

“The transition from print to broadcast was not difficult. I got used to it and I found that reading helped. It was just a matter of catching on the basics because I didn’t do mass communication. I didn’t have any formal training in journalism so I had to learn everything on the job. But I am always willing to learn, I like to absorb things. But Starcom was a big shift in terms of learning how to operate the equipment but I have to say my editor at the time, Eric Nurse, was the absolute best full stop, I don’t think anybody would dispute it. 

“Within a very quick time I realised I could have asked for advice. Before you went out on assignments he made sure you came into his office to talk about your assignment and what angles you can get out of it. He discussed everything with you and made the transition easy. Soon I was able to develop my own newscast. Although he has passed away now his memory still lives with me. I am proud to be one of his students.”

The former Louis Lynch student gained the attention of the head of news at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Richard Cox. However, Brome felt she had to learn more about broadcast journalism and she was not ready to leave her ‘beloved tutor’ Eric. But Richard kept on calling so she decided to begin a new chapter in the Pine, Wildey.

“CBC was not the same as Starcom. There was no Eric to guide me in the right direction but I was able to apply what he taught me to this new environment,” she said.

“I would go out on assignments, get the stories and write something for both radio and TV. Although I was allocated to radio I had to concentrate on writing for both mediums. Before I was asked to present the news on television, TV was the furthest thing from my mind. 

“I felt that you had to have a certain look to be on TV and I am not a girlie girl so dressing up and wearing make-up is not really my thing. Don’t get me wrong: I still like to look nice but as long as my clothes are clean and they fit well I am happy. I do not have to wear the latest fashion. And if I have to wear make-up when I go out I wear it as minimum as possible. I guess that is the tomboy part in me that creeps out.

“I tell people all the time that I am a news reporter first and an anchor second. That is just the cherry on top when it comes to my job which may put me in the public’s eye but there are jobs out there that I hold in high regard and consider to be just as important as mine. If policemen and firefighters do not work, the island would be in turmoil and the job of a garbage collector is very important. They clean our surroundings and protect us from many diseases.

“So in this business you cannot think you are more than anyone. CBC at any time can say, ‘Lisa, thank you for the good work that you have done but we have decided to use someone in place of you? If that happens, then what? That is why it is important to be humble and choose your friends wisely . . . .That is why my circle is as big as a dot.” (SB)

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