Successful Youth Village

The curtain has come down on the CARIFESTA Youth Village and it has been hailed as a success. Over its four-day course, the Barbados Community College was transformed as local and regional artistes gathered to share their talents.

Students engaged in a drama workshop

The youth village has been a part of the CARIFESTA celebration since 2008; this year’s event, sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank, exposed young people from ages 6-35 to various workshops and panel discussions.

Barbados TODAY caught up with a number of exhibitors, including regionally acclaimed local dancer Gene Carson who was facilitating the Landship Dance Project. He said the project involves something new he has been creating in dance.

“I’ve been working on it since 2002. I began my work with the students here at Community College….It’s a mixture of Barbados Land Ship manoeuvres and aspects of Caribbean dance that I have learnt about over the years especially from Jamaica and Trinidad,” Carson said.

In conceptualizing the project, Carson said his first thoughts were to make the form traditional but he then settled on a mixture of modern and traditional. “I’m working on developing it some more but you can see the Landship fusion coming out,” he said.

Carson is no stranger to CARIFESTA. “ I’ve been doing CARIFESTA since 1976. I always enjoy the CARIFESTA. It is always a chance to see what other Caribbean islands do, realizing that there is a similarity in our dances and our forms,” he said.

When a Barbados TODAY team visited on Wednesday, Carson was going through a few of the manoeuvres with some members of the St Lucian delegation.

Chriselda Branford, the director of the St Lucian delegation, told Barbados TODAY: “The kids are happy. This morning when I said ‘let’s do something else’,  they know they are going back to drama. I just wish it was longer because if it was on tomorrow, we could have come again.”

“Anything that has to do with youth development, we are interested. When we heard about the Youth Village, I thought it was necessary to bring them and since then I am satisfied with what I have learnt,” she added. 

Meanwhile, over in the Liberal Arts auditorium, well-known comedians Chrispen Hackett and Simon Alleyne, better known as Rum and Koke, facilitated a hands-on workshop called ‘Edutainment’.

The duo said that they came to share a bit of their knowledge about theatre. “We have been in it for a number of years and what good is knowledge if you can’t pass it on and share it with somebody else so that was one of our main things,” Hackett said.

“It was more a practical exercise as well because it’s okay to have a workshop with young people but you have to be more engaging, so we did a couple of exercises. It was about sharing with the different islands and they sharing with us their experience in the theatre,” Alleyne stated.

The pair said they bridged the cultural gap with icebreakers and the participants responded well.  “You have to be very free and comfortable within your own skin . Some of the themes were a little shy but eventually we got them out of that shell and we got them out their box.”

The day ended with an integrated showcase and cultural entrepreneurs’ exhibition. Shakeil Jones, dance choreographer with the Trinidad delegation to CARIFESTA, spoke about his country’s involvement in the village.

“We brought to CARIFESTA a cadre of performances likewise a bit of our architecture… we want to showcase what we do in Trinidad, to share with the Caribbean community how well we take pride in our culture and festivities,” Jones said.

Jones said this was his second CARIFESTA, having attended the previous one in Suriname. “It was a good experience. We have seen what the other islands have to offer. It is always a good thing to see how the Caribbean can come together and exist in a space whereby we are able to share culture and learn from each other in different ways,” he said.

Commenting on the low turn-out at some events so far, Jones said his delegation wasn’t too disappointed.  “There may have been a low turn out but the ones that are there are very much interested and I feel that a little more can be done in terms of marketing and getting the word out there,” he stated.

He believes that with better promotion, the regional festival can grow. “CARIFESTA is a learning experience about the region and understanding who we are as a people, where we come from and where we intend to be and going forward, they need to strategically plan for where they are going to market it so people can know what is happening so that they can get involved.”

Source: by Kobie Broomes

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