How Barbadian Cultural Forms Are Appreciated, Presented, and Assessed at NIFCA PART 3
The problematique that continues to privilege formal techniques and ballroom/latin forms over masquerade and street dances that reflect our African-heritage is our colonial legacy in the concert dance tradition. However, we keep ignoring the Afro-centric cultural forms that exist right here. We still have not sufficiently deconstructed landship, traditional masquerade practices, and, wukking up. We have not made sense of the layers of cultural and spiritual crossings that occur in Spiritual Baptists. There are stages for re-assessment, re-education, re-focussing, re-centering, research and representations that need to be addressed. If this is the “rescuing” that Grant and PCW seek to engage in then I am in total support of the tone of his argument, if not fully engaging the language he uses.
Using movement research as a point of departure, initiatives to determine re-assessment criteria for Caribbean Cultural Forms should be devised.
Preliminary findings of the Jamaica Cultural Development’s Commission syllabus for the Performing Arts Festival reveals objective-based criteria to better recognize and award demonstrations of Jamaican and Caribbean cultural forms that may stimulate a similar investigation and formal recognition here in Barbados. Some of these criteria for assessing indigenous cultural forms include recognizing: “figures, dancing to time/beat, movements & steps, uniformity & style, stage & projection, costuming, dance stance, traditional content, development and relevance of form/theme/mood, role playing, musicianship (rhythm & tempo), stage presence, staging & presentation, plaiting technique & originality (in the case of the Maypole for instance) and form & structure (in the case of Ring Games) among others”.
Rebounding from conversations about what is Culture and Identity as it relates to Barbadian experiences examining traditional practices through this lens may offer the means to develop processes of learning, recognizing and privileging Barbadian cultural forms in ways that the current NIFCA judging process does not fully address. Ironically the language of dance is subjected to several interpretations and shifts based on current trends. The desire for dance to be static is romantic. It is better to reference and recognize its aspects and shifts. Different to Grant, I believe what we experience in Barbados is the multiple realities and re-presentations of Barbadian experiences in its tradition and in the contemporary. Hence while the Afro-centric traditional narratives are under-represented, it would be unfortunate to table NIFCA as absurd, un-Barbadian or a ‘farce’.
Culture Clinic is a weekly column crafted by Dr. John Hunte. Photography by Adrian Richards.