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Dance fest changes

From left to right: Dance coordinator Tyrone Trotman, Chief Community Development officer, Sandra Greenidge, Minister Steven Blackett, PS Bruce Alleyne.

A 100 per cent increase in prize money is in store for the winners of the 2012/2013 Community Dance Fest.

The increase was revealed yesterday at the launch of the festival by Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steven Blackett, at the Community Development Department in the Warrens Office Complex.

The first prize winner will now receive $5,000; second place $4,000, and third $3,000.

Also new is a change in venue, with the 7,000 plus spectators expected being accommodated at the historic Kensington Oval instead of the Wildey Sports Complex which he said the numbers had outgrown. The first preliminary for the contest is scheduled for October 19 and the national final on January 1, 2013. Blackett noted that the costs of the tickets for the final will remain the same.

Chief Community Development Officer, Sandra Greenidge said that since its establishment in 2006, the Community Dance Fest was one of the most anticipated contests on the cultural calendar. She said with this year’s festival predicted to be the biggest and most memorable, the time was right for change.

“There has been questions about whether the festival has plateaued or not — it hasn’t plateaued, but we recognise that we really have to respond to the demand of the young people and their supporters and give them something additional to scream about.

“We are expecting increased numbers in terms of participants; although they have been some increase in the number of schools participating over the last four years it is the actual number of individuals who form the groups that is significantly increasing. This also means that cash prizes, which have not increased since 2006, have to be shared among a larger number of persons,” she said.

Moreover, the CDD is encouraged by the passion and enthusiasm by participants which she added was evenly matched by the talent of the young people and their creativity.

Blackett said the festival was designed to use the medium of dance as a vehicle for achieving social integration, social cohesion and behaviour change especially among youth. This year they have taken this cohesion a step further by inviting the more senior members of the community to become involved. The best Line Dance, Couples Dance, Ballroom Dance and the beast dance from one other approved genre or fusion genres will earn an opportunity to perform at the final.

“In recent years the festival has evolved to become an income earner for many participants in addition to being an added source of income for many others involved in the technical and other aspects of the production.

“The response from young men and women is very encouraging and gives us much hope for the development of valuable peer leaders within communities and schools where these leaders are much needed. The support that they receive from their parents, guardians and communities is also amazing and speaks highly to the capacity of the dance festival for bridging inter-generational gaps while building community cohesion and integration.

“It also speaks to the confidence placed in my ministry and the Community Development Department to successfully execute an activity which seeks in a wholesome way to provide a fun and friendly alternative to every day tensions and wrangling.

“The Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development is committed to its mission to alleviate poverty and the associated social ills by implementing a range of strategies that empower communities and organisations that help create a renewed focus on the norms and the values that we cherish. These norms and values are needed to propel us forward to new horizons of prosperity and excellence,” he said.

Registration for the festival is still opened and more information can be obtained from the CDD. (KC)

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