Cultural Voice eZine

Friday, 30 November 2012

Remembering Maestro Eduardo Rivero-Walker, Former Artistic Director of Cuba's Leading Modern Dance Company

Article published in the Jamaica Gleaner

The passing of Eduardo Rivero-Walker, the adopted Jamaican dancer, legendary Afro-centric modern dance choreographer and artistic director of Cuba's leading modern dance company Compañía Teatro Dela Danza Del Caribe de Santiago, has left the dance community in shock.

Rivero-Walker's passing has also left a void among members of the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica (NDTC) and the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble.

In fact, the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble's 19th Season of Dance - which is scheduled to run at the Little Theatre from November this weekend - will be paying tribute to Rivero-Walker's work as choreographer and teacher.
"His passing has given heightened significance to his entrusting to us his choreographic work Toromato," said Dr MoniKa Lawrence, artistic director and founder of the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble. Lawrence worked closely with Rivero-Walker - first as a dancer with the NDTC, and subsequently with the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble, where he taught."Eduardo is a cultural icon," declared Dr Lawrence.

"His rich legacy in the arts will unquestionably live on. We owe a debt of gratitude for his varied contribution to the arts in Jamaica. He will surely be missed by the world of dance theatre," she said.

Rivero-Walker also gained the respect of founder of NDTC and dance icon, the late Rex Nettleford.

In fact, it was Nettleford who "discovered" him and his Yoruban-based technique while on a visit to Cuba in the 1970s. So impressed was Nettleford that he invited Rivero-Walker to visit Jamaica in 1978 as a guest choreo-grapher with the NDTC.


That visit to the island led to a fruitful collaboration and a long-term creative exchange between both companies: Compañía Teatro Dela Danza Del Caribe de Santiago, NDTC - and Edna Manley School of Dance.

Rivero-Walker was renowned for incorporating the Yoruban-based technique, which celebrated the beauty and virility of the African body, as well as the lifestyle of the Yoruban people, into his dances.

This technique is summed up in his seminal piece Sulkari, which he created while a principal dancer and choreographer for Danza Nacional de Cuba. He bequeathed that piece to the NDTC in 1979-80.
Sulkari celebrates fertility and the continuity of man as inspired by details of African sculptures and artefact, as well as the movement of the Yoruba people of Dahomey, Africa.

In fact, Sulkari enjoyed a remount in the recently concluded NDTC Jamaica 50 Season of Dance.

In addition to Sulkari,Rivero-Walker also passed on to the NDTC hisOkontomi and Romance, while NDTC shared with the Compañía del Caribe Nacional de Santiago (Rivero-Walker's first company) Nettleford'sThe Crossing; Carson Cumberbatch's Cry of the Spirit and Bert Rose's Steal Away.

Barry Moncrieffe, artistic director of NDTC, remembers Rivero-Walker, whose mother was Jamaican, "not only as a teacher, dancer and choreographer, but also as a close friend".

The bonds between NDTC and Rivero-Walker's dance company were further strengthened when two lead dancers of Compañía Teatro Dela Danza Del Caribe de Santigao -Arsenio Andrade-Calderon and Abeldo 'Toki' Gonzalez-Fonseca - joined the NDTC in 1995 and served for many years as principal dancers.

Gonzalez-Fonseca, who currently serves as ballet master for the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble, describes Rivero-Walker as an inspirational mentor and teacher who was proud of his African roots and Cuban nationalism.

"In Cuba, Eduardo is to dance what Rex Nettleford is to dance in Jamaica. His legend and legacy will live on through his dances and his teaching," he said.

Rivero-Walker died of lung cancer in Santiago, Cuba, on November 2. He was 77 years old.


Monday, 12 November 2012

From Calcutta to Melbourne, Dr. Michele Lobo Tackles Shifting Identities

Born in Calcutta, India, Dr. Michele Lobo migrated to Australia in the year of the Sydney Olympics, 2000, after quite a random conversation with her Brother-in- Law who lived in Australia at the time. She describes the Christmas scene, with family and friends in Eastern India: “There was lots of food, drinks, and merriment,” typical of celebrations at that time of the year for her family. Her brother-in law called from Australia and said that he was watching TV, a shocking revelation  for an Indian at Christmas Time. On further prodding, he explained, that it was because of the lack of family members nearby to celebrate with and asked “why don’t you guys move here?” The rest, as we say, is history!

Dr. Lobo is a 2012 recipient of the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (Decra), and an Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University, in Melbourne, Australia.

Dr. Lobo describes Calcutta as very busy, colourful, crowded with endless hustle, bustle and buzz. She describes the inequality that has become synonymous with the social structure of the city and tells us that this is part of the reason that she has become so passionate about issues of social justice. She tells CV that she had been well-settled in India, lecturing at that university and the decision to move to Melbourne, Australia, with her husband was simply taking a chance at something different. Dr. Lobo’s family in India was classified as Anglo-Indian, and she longed to be seen as simply Indian, The Anglo designation evolved from her Christian, westernised, upbringing which separated her culturally from the mainstream Indian traditional lifestyle.

Once arriving in Melbourne, she at once became simply “Indian.” She smiles as saying that it’s a fight to become simply “Australian” as being Australian really has a connotation of White Anglo-Australian. This discussion forms the backdrop for Dr. Lobo’s studies and work, who has looked extensively on how whiteness is a privilege and how it regulates everyday life. She shares that based on her findings even with the diversity that is striking in Australia, “Anglo is privileged.” She has found it intriguing that in her interactions with the aboriginal Australians that they are so warm and welcoming. 

Dr. Lobo has been greatly inspired by feminist writers and researchers. Paramount among ideologies that intrigues her is the work on otherness, the body, reconstituting how the world can be different. She makes reference to Emmanuel Levinas, Michel Foucault, and as an inspiration for her PhD thesis Judith Butler. 

Dr. Lobo speaks Hindi, Bengali, English and a bit of German and admits that though her children learned these languages while infants in India, they have not practiced, as the lessons are only offered on the weekends outside of regular school hours. During this time they are much more intent of playing cricket. 

Dr. Lobo’s motto is “In giving, you receive” which is how she sees life - as a collective effort rather than an individual one. She takes time every year to attend at least one day of the Australian Open in January with her family.

Posted with Thumnails on her door at Deakin's Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation reads the following: 

“I can’t help but dream of the kind of criticism that would try not to judge but to bring an oeuvre, a book, a sentence, an idea to life; it would light fires, watch grass grow, listen to the wind, and catch the sea foam in the breeze and scatter it. It would multiply not judgements but signs of existence. It would summon them, drag them from their sleep. Perhaps it would invent them sometimes – all the better. All the better. … It would not be sovereign or dressed in red. It would bear the lightening of possible storms.”

(Michel Foucault, 1997)

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

'Dia de los Muertos' - The Embassy of Mexico in Jamaica Celebrates the Day of the Dead

As practised by the indigenous communities of Mexico, el Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) commemorated the transitory return to Earth of deceasedrelatives and loves ones.

The festivals take place eachyear at the end of October to the beginning of November. This period also marks the completion of the annual cycle of cultuvation of maize, the country's predominant food crop. Families facilitate the return of the souls to Earth by laying flower petals, candles and offerings along the path leading from the cemetry to their homes. The deceased's favourite dishes are prepared and placed around the home shrine and the tomb alongside flowers and typical handicrafts such as paper cutouts. Great care is taken with all aspects of the preparations for it is believed that the dead are capable of bringing prosperity or misfortune upon their families depending on how satisfactorily the rituals are executed.

The Day of the Dead celebrations holds great significance in the life of Mexico's indigenous communities. The fusion of pre Hispanic religious rites and Catholic feasts brings togeher two universes, one marked by indigenous belief systems, the other by worldviews introduced by the Europeans in the sixteenth century. Due to its importance to the preservation of cultural identity, The Indigenoud Festival Dedicated to the Dead was proclaimed by UNESCO in 2003, "Masterpiece of the Oral and intangible Heritage of Humanity".

The Mexican Embassy in Jamaica celebrated this event on October 30th 2012 in Kingston, with other Ambassadors showing great support including Ambassadors from Brazil, Dominican Republic, the European Union, Cuba, Belgium, among others.

The Ambassador of Mexico to Jamaica
H.E. Gerardo Lozano Arredondo in conversation
with a guest. More pictures from the event are available at

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Deadline Approaching!! 2012 Intercultural Innovation Award

Sustainable Cultural Diversity: 2012 Intercultural Innovation Award Launched
Now accepting applications. Over 400 participants in 2011.

NEW YORK/MUNICH —The BMW Group and the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) are inviting organizations to apply for the Intercultural Innovation Award. Grassroots initiatives that are promoting intercultural understanding and cooperation in new and sustainable ways shall be recognized.

The Intercultural Innovation Award is a partnership between the BMW Group and the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), a special project of the UN Secretary-General.

Both BMW Group and the UNAOC favor projects that are sustainable, make a long lasting impact and have the potential to benefit the widest possible audience. An international jury of scholars and experts from different regions of the world will assess this year’s applications to ensure that winning projects are innovative and impactful. Five top winners will be announced at an awards ceremony that will take place at the 5th Forum of the UNAOC in Vienna, Austria in February 2013.

In addition to a monetary prize winners will benefit from support and consulting services from the UNAOC and the BMW Group over the course of a year. The help provided is individualized to the specific needs of winners, and includes outreach and communications support, fundraising, or networking with funders and sponsors.

In 2011, the award received more than 400 applications from 70 countries. This year, the UNAOC and the BMW Group want to expand their commitment to support innovative grassroots projects from all over the world. In an effort to reach out to the global community, application guidelines are available in 10 languages including Arabic, Chinese, Kiswahili or Hebrew and can be found in

Deadline for submissions is October 10th, 2012.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Take a Stroll Along Gungo Walk

If you're in Jamaica next weekend, the 1st September 2012, be sure to check out the Gungo Walk Festival. It'll showcase two stages with performances from Acmatic, Roslyn, SEZi, Black as Cole, Stone Dub, Suzanne Couch, Charmaine Limonius, Sky Grass, Pentatwuch, Mystikal Revolution and One Drop Routz. They'll also have "Armchair Rebelution" with Michael Sean Harris, Tessanne Chin and Di Blueprint.  An official Jamaica 50 event, the Gungo Walk Festival is a new, annual music and arts festival which will be held on the 1st September 2012 in association with Edna Manley College of the Performing Arts (EMC).

You may also take a stroll down to our Magazine... check it out:

Linked to Culture... Cultural Voice explores...

Welcome to the second issue of Cultural Voice eZine
 The  Cultural  Voice eZine  team extends congratulations  to  countries worldwide celebrating 50 years of independence during  2012. Countries including those in the English-speaking Caribbean  such as Jamaica  and  Trinidad  & Tobago; the middle  East and African region such as Algeria  and Rwanda;  and Samoa, a country in the pacific.
 We are looking forward to unearthing the cultural wonders worldwide. Follow  us on Twitter  and  facebook for  updates. We  note that sports is often not included  in discussions of culture but we believe that the platform created for cultural expression should  be harnessed as we seek to create greater economic development through the creative industries.

Click here to read August's Issue

Friday, 17 August 2012

Have Printed Books Been Relegated to Ancient History?

While in London on a trek to discover the artistic creations heralded as cornerstones of the Cultural Olympiad, a celebration of all things Artistic, I stumbled into a pile of books!

It was a relatively overcast day, with  temperatures above average in the city hosting the 2012 Olympics. People paraded in greens, blues, yellows and reds, waving country flags indicating the patriotism that is especially poignant during any Olympics games. Dressed in the colours Green, Gold, and Black, I paraded along the Southbank enjoying the smells from hot dog stands and picnic areas donned with Mojitos. A guide suggested a visit to the Southbank Centre.

On entering people buzzed with excitement seemingly in 'culture paradise' with the 10s of choices for artistic stimulation. I turned a corner and in the midst of the revere there they were, these books!

A group of visitors approached the display, made funny faces, and walked with flashing hands, signalling their boredom with the concept. I decided however, that this pile of books, 250,000 to be exact, designed in the form of a labyrinth by Brazillian artists Gualter Pupo and Marcos Saboya was actually quite intriguing. I journeyed in.

The Labyrinth of books was a part of the exhibition titled aMAZEme.  The design was made to be interactive, allowing anyone to borrow books from the structure and return them when finished. The books new and used were randomly stacked, and this allowed coincidence in material choice. This arrangement presented a stark contrast to the organisation characteristic of a traditional library space and was more in keeping with how we now access information in many of our online social spaces.

Books in printed form, are in many ways a dying phenomenon with the emergence of online publications and tools such as the Kindle which allow you to access your library once you are connected to the internet, anytime anyplace. In many ways books are making the transition from everyday use to studies of history and material for museums. Is this the future? I wondered.  

People were mulling around, lounging, flipping through pages and I wondered if the artist had considered encouraging his visitors to add books from their own libraries to this collection.

aMAZEme will be on display until August 25th at The Southbank Centre in London, England as a part of the many artworks and installations at this year’s London Olympics.

Friday, 27 July 2012


Forgotten Diaries Blogger Arevik Hayrapetyan shares w/CV her experience at the International Youth Camp Dialogue 2012

From 11-July 15, “Forgotten Diaries” was represented in the International Youth Camp Dialogue 2012, organized by Youth Department of the Council of Europe. This event gathered at one place more than 100 volunteers, youth activists and youth leaders. They all came from different national, cultural, religious backgrounds; they represented different organizations and had different interests and walks of life. But what was really common for all the participants was that each of them, without any exception, does strongly believe in the importance of intercultural dialogue for the better world we want to create.
From the very start of our Camp what the essence of  real Intercultural Dialogue was present. The presence of so many cultures and nationalities, people with different ways of thinking was not at all a reason for any kind of clashes or disputes. On the contrary it was a vivid example on how people can live and coexist together happily and learn from each other so many wonderful things. These four unforgettable days made me realize what Intercultural Dialogue is all about. I am happy to share my insights with you.

Intercultural dialogue is…
When you meet a person from another country and try to remember how to greet him/her on their own language or say something which is typical to their country or culture, thus making them feel really happy about it.

When people from different nationalities dine around one table and at the beginning they communicate through one common language, but after a few minutes the table transforms into a unique language center where each tries to learn as many languages as possible. The same was during our meals in “Dialogue” camp and of course the first multilingual expression was “I LOVE YOU” in more than 10 languages.
When you take part in a cultural evening and present your own culture, people from other nationalities and cultures surround you and give you dozens of questions about your country and culture, then you go to the representatives of other cultures and strive to get to knwo as many new things as possible and take photos so that later on show your friends and make them part of intercultural dialogue.
When on the stage plays guitar, western music follows eastern one and national dances hit the ground.
Of course, this list can be continued, but I would like to finish my article with the conclusion that I came to while writing this very artcile: ”Intercultural dialogue occurs when ... cultures speak for peace”.

Find more examples of intercultural dialogue @

Friday, 20 July 2012

Have you been to the ATM Cave in Belize! Kevin Callopy has!

1) In your travels where is the most special destination you've been to and why?
The Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave in Belize: It is a cave two (2) km under ground full of several thousand year old intact Mayan artifacts and the entrance is almost mystical
2) What is your opinion of world peace?
"Politics and oil will prevent us from ever achieving world piece, governments are too greedy to cooperate"
3) What is your favourite drink?
" A 2006 chateauneuf du pape"
 4) If there was anything you could change about the world what would it be and why?
"Changing the world is a bold statement, why push for fantasy items we cannot achieve, rather lets focus on the things we have the ability to impact"

Monday, 2 July 2012

Congratulations Turkey! New UNESCO Heritage Site 'Çatalhöyük'


As the World Heritage List celebrates its 40th birthday this year, Turkey joins the party adding its eleventh location to the list; Çatalhöyük.

Çatalhöyük is a large Neolithic and Chalcolithic site in Konya, in Southern Turkey. Its history goes back to 7400 BC, and it is the largest and is said to be the best-preserved Neolithic site to be discovered hitherto. The site was first excavated in 1958. It is composed entirely of residential buildings and held an estimated population of 10.000.

In the UNESCO Resolution, accepted by its 21 experts from various countries, it is expressed that Çatalhöyük fulfilled the basic requirements set by the Treaty of World Heritage, it preserved its authenticity and entirety and had a “global outstanding quality”.

The site was nominated for the list by the Turkish Ministry of Culture, and the resolution won raves in Turkey from many parts of society. On the other hand, UNESCO experts declared that a void was filled in the list with this latest extension.
I believe this is very good news as well. Turkey has a lot of under-rated historical sites in within its boundaries and their recognition is important for their preservation. In most cases excavations begin and lead to nowhere, and some artifacts found get lost or stolen. It is not very likely that such things will happen with the provision of UNESCO. With its diverse array of historical sites, Turkey deserves to be dug up more carefully.

Contributed by our partners:

Blogger: Merisa Sahin

Friday, 29 June 2012

Speaking Beyond Stereotypes!

Derefe Chevannes

How many times you heard folks referring to Africa, not as a continent but a country? It’s, “are you African?” rather than “are you from Kenya? Or, Uganda? Or, the Congo, even?”     

Or, how many images do we see daily with starving kids with big bellies lying in the dirt waiting to die? Or, how many times do we see lions, giraffes or hippos being the image of the African animal? Also, let’s talk honestly about images of corrupt politicians and bankrupted, poor nations that seem to represent all countries on the continent. How many times have we heard those narratives? And, it’s not that they are untrue, but that they are NOT representative of Africa’s vast diversity.

This is the problem winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, Binyavanga Wainaina is having.The 41 year old Kenyan journalist and author has been in the news of late, with his published piece entitled, How to Write About Africa. Wainaina speaks to this issue when he says, “In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or, it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book.”
Wainaine expatiates about the ignorance and God-complex that often embody the Western writer who believes his particular account of the African ‘dilemma’ is not only accurate but also vital to the development of the continent.
Wainaina is asking us to use other colours to paint Africa, because things are just not black and white. And, I think that’s fair. He laments the prolific display of negative images about Africa and its people as helpless victims who are to be pitied and are emasculated of any sense of self-determination.
So, the next time, when you discuss Africa, for heaven’s name, be specific. And, when you talk about Africa, try to mention things other than “starving Children [with] flies on their eyelids and pot bellies.” Now tell me, what else can you say about the continent of Africa that most people don’t know? What, dare I ask, are some of its redeeming qualities?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Anush Hayrapetyan, Embracing History to Create Cultural Harmony...A hero for youth around the world!

Here are a few things you may not have known about Anush Hayrapetan, Manager of a project of youth action for change promoting intercultural dialogue and one of Cultural Voice's partners.
Anush Hayrapetan: Founder, Forgotten Diaries

Nationality: Armenian

Anush has won the following awards:
  • Hero of Millennium 2011, 2nd World Summit for Youth Volunteering
  • EUNIC 2010 European youth competition winner,category “Democracy and Politeia”
  • World Youth Summit Award 2010, category “Pursue truth” (Forgotten Diaries project related)
  • Intercultural Innovation award 2010, Marketplace of Ideas of the UNAOC 3rd forum, (Forgotten Diaries project related)
  • World Aware Education Award 2009, North-South Centre of Council of Europe (Forgotten Diaries project related)

Favourite City: "My favorite city is Riga, the capital of Latvia. I lived there for almost a year and love it for its unusual charm, warm people and relaxing atmosphere."

 If Anush could choose to be any other nationality she would be: "I am proud to be of Armenian nationality and if there would be a passport definition of global national/citizen, i'd definitely like to attain it."

Views on World Peace: "World peace is attainable if each of us, the world's inhabitants, thinks globally while acting locally."

Cultural Icon:" Charles Aznavour, a French Armenian singer"

On Overcoming History: "History cannot be ignored. It's always existing and reminding. Meanwhile, life continues and progress shouldn't be compromised with history."

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Should Kurdish be an elective course in Turkey?

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan announced Kurdish indeed will be taught as an elective course, putting an end to all the rumors about the issue 2 days ago in his party’s group assembly in the Parliament.

Kurdish had been taught in universities since 2009, however with this step there is a chance to learn it at a younger age in school. In the assembly, RTE said “For decades, Turkey has witnessed times where minorities dominated majorities with its non-democratic decisions and their suppressive implementation. Those who have been ostracized for years are becoming equal citizens and this should not be misinterpreted. What we are witnessing in Turkey right now is a process of normalization and normalization only.” He added that Kurdish will be taught on condition that a certain number is reached.

Kurds make up around a fifth of Turkey’s population. Some see this move as a privilege given to a minority, some as a natural right, some as a reaction too little too late. I had mentioned in my previous articles that most BDP members are not satisfied with the decision, however some beg to differ. Leyla Zana, one of the most famous and influential Kurdish politicians in Turkey, declared her support to the decision; while Gokhan Gunaydin, Vice President of CHP (the main opposition party) declared it a “natural process.”

Zana, who saw the move as a step forward, also talked about the Kurdish issue stating “I believe Erdogan can solve this. i have lost neither faith nor hope in him doing so, and I do not want to either.”

 Shared via. our project partners forgotten diaries

Author: Merisa Sahin

Merisa is from Istanbul, Turkey. She is currently studying Political Science & International Relations in Bogazici University. She is very much interested in Human Rights and wishes to build a career in that field.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Caribbean Americans to be honoured in South Florida

MIAMI - In the first event of its kind, ICABA Media Holdings, LLC, (ICABA) will celebrate some of South Florida's most accomplished professionals and entrepreneurs with heritage spanning 14 different Caribbean nations. One hundred corporate executives, educators, entrepreneurs, entertainers and community leaders will be honored at the ICABA Salutes South Florida's 100 Most Accomplished Caribbean Americans program, Friday, June 29, 2012, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts: 201 Southwest 5th Avenue in Ft. Lauderdale.

The black-tie event will begin in the Amaturo Theater at 7:30 p.m. with the recognition program and be followed by a reception and traditional Caribbean fete. The signature ICABA coffee table book showcasing their diverse accomplishments will be unveiled at the event and include the honorees' bios, features and advertorials from a noted list of corporate sponsors.

Web_rudolph_moise"As our nation's gateway to the Caribbean, South Florida has long-been a cultivator of successful migrants and talented natives," said Jerome Hutchinson, Jr., president & CEO of ICABA Media Holdings. "The contribution Caribbean-Americans have made to our region is extraordinary, and I am thrilled that ICABA will be the first entity to celebrate their excellence in such a unified way."
"The Caribbean-American community is an important demographic," shared Marlon Hill, Esq., managing partner at delancyhill, P.A., who wrote the foreword for the event's  publication. "Our culinary, musical and religious traditions are undeniably present in every aspect of life in South Florida. It is timely that we share our community's accomplishments and celebrate their entrepreneurial spirit."

The Salute will also include official recognitions from the White House, offices of Florida Governor Rick Scott, Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings, U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, along with Miami-Dade and Broward County Mayors. The list of honorees spans multiple professional categories including health care, law, media and spiritual leaders. Notables include Pauline Grant, chief executive officer at North Broward Medical Center (Jamaica), Dr. Rudolph Moise, medical director at Comprehensive Health Center, LLC (Haiti), Yolanda Cash Jackson, shareholder at Becker & Poliakoff (Bahamas), Joseph Bernadel (US. Army, Ret. Major), founder of Toussaint L’Ouverture High School (Haiti), Garth Reeves, founder of the Miami Times (Bahamas), and Bishop Henry Fernandez, founder and senior pastor of The Faith Center (Jamaica).

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Pictures From Paradise: A new book featuring Caribbean emerging photographers

The cosy bookstore Bookophilia, located in Kingston, Jamaica provided the ideal location for the launch of the book 'Pictures From Paradise' on Saturday, June 9, 2012. The book features works of photographers from around the Caribbean and introduces inspiring emerging talent. The evening consisted of great discussion, the signing of books and mingling.

'Pictures From Paradise' captures everyday Caribbean life. Published by Robert & Christopher Publishers, a publishing house in Trinidad & Tobago, the art book is edited by Melaine Archerand Mariel Brown and features a critical essay by O’Neil Lawrence, assistant curator of the National Gallery of Jamaica, 230 images from 18 artists. The book artists are: Gerard Gaskin, Abigail Hadeed, Alex Smailes, Rodell Warner, EwanAtkinson, Marvin Bartley, Terry Boddie, Holly Bynoe, James Cooper, Renee Cox, Gerard Hanson, Nadia Huggins, Marlon James, Roshini Kempadoo, O’Neil Lawrence, Ebony Patterson, Radcliffe Roye and Stacey Tyrell and are either based in the Caribbean or have ties to the region.

Perhaps what’s most refreshing about 'Pictures From Paradise' is the welcomed departure from the contrived idyllic images of Caribbean landscape that often bombard tourism billboards and commercials.The techniques employed by the photographers engage the reader's many senses and forces us to rethink what is "Caribbean".

 Pics from the event:

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Signs of the Times - El Général - Cultural Influencer

We're going to be exposing you to what's happening with some of your fav Cultural Icons from around the Globe... 50 Icons, in celebration of Jamaica's 50th year since independence... but don't worry the focus is still Global :)

CULTURAL ICON # 50: 'El Général'

He is a Tunisian born rapper who is not afriad to speak out. Now with a permanent place in history... we're anxious to see where this goes.

'When I became a rapper, I wasn't looking for love. I was looking to rap for the good of the people.'

He took to facebook and the 22 year old Hamada Ben Amor performed the tune “President, Your People Are Dying,”. In the clip originally in Arabic, the rapper speaks firmly and directly to now-former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali about the unemployment and hunger ravaging the country while Ben Ali’s family lived in excess. This was a brave step for the young rapper, and became fundamental to many of the movements that evolved last year. Throughout the world inequality remains a sticking point with less to be desired governance practices widespread...

He has put out another song since that time "Ode to Arab Revolution"and was featured on Time 100's most influential people in the world.

History tells us that good music time and time again can be good for social change as well! Musicians have privilages and responsibilities as the influencers of lives!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

UNESCO celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the 1972 World Heritage Convention: Caribbean Training Course Launched

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the World Heritage Convention launched the Caribbean Training Course in the Preparation of Nomination Dossiers for World Heritage. The Training Course which is being held from the 5th -15th June in Kingston, Jamaica serves to build the capacity of cultural agents from across the Caribbean in the preservation of Cultural Heritage.

The morning started with a welcome by Dr. Kwame Boafo, Director and UNESCO Representative, UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean, followed by an address by Mr. Ron Van Oers, Programme Specialist, Special Projects Unit, UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
His Excellency Ambassador Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica, the Bahamas and Belize gave background to the long history of the Japanese with UNESCO, stating that UNESCO was one of the first international organisations that Japan joined after World War II and that being a member of UNESCO empowered the rebuilding process. The Government of Japan, in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the 1972 World Heritage Convention has pledged US$1Million to ACP Countries towards to preservation of Cultural Heritage Sites.  

The Hon. Lisa Hanna, Minister of Youth and Culture, and Chairperson of the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO officially opened the Training Course and said that she supported the efforts of UNESCO in working to increase world heritage. Mr. Everton Hannam, Secretary-General, Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO thanked all the partner organisations for making this development possible and for their continued support.  For the Official Launch of the Poster featuring the English & Dutch-speaking Caribbean World Heritage sites, the officials present all signed as a symbol of commitment.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Dance Theatre Harlem Hits the Stage in Kingston, Jamaica

The effortless transitions, the visually stimulating scenes and the strength of well-toned bodies were poignant features of Dance Theatre Harlem’s performance on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 12:00pm. The show, presented by The Embassy of the United States of America, had the theme “Celebrating the ties that bind 50 years of friendship”.  That message was clear onstage and off. Fate smiled and landed me in a seat just beside the Artistic Director of Dance Theatre of Harlem, Virginia Johnson, and Founding Member of Dance Theatre Harlem, Jamaican Patsy Ricketts. Patsy Ricketts also danced on Jamaica’s Stage as a Principal Dancer of the National Dance Theatre Company for many years.

When Johnson sat beside Ricketts it was like a reunion of sisters, that sense of shared history was undeniable.  They laughed through hellos and spoke admiringly of their first interactions with Arthur Mitchell the Co-Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of DTH.  It was schoolgirl giggles as Rickets asked Johnson her Zodiac Sign, and they recalled that this was a critical determinant if you could make the DTH cut with ‘Arthur’ or not. “Arthur was Aries”, and reluctant to work other ‘fire’ signs.
I leaned over and asked Rickets how this all began. She shared that while studying at the Graham School of Arts for two years on two consecutive scholarships Derek Williams a member of the National Dance Theatre Company knew that Arthur Mitchell, having just left the National Ballet was forming a new company. Open to exploring new techniques and styles Rickets was interested in auditioning.


The audition, she shared, was in a church building in Harlem. According to Rickets “Arthur Mitchell was taking people off the streets” and he told her “your feet are dreadful, but we’ll work on it, I like your spirit”. She started working as an apprentice in 1969-1970, after becoming a full member.
We paused as Keith Saunders, Director of the Ensemble, introduced the company and the curtains opened with a ballet titled ‘Six Piano Pieces’ choreographed by David Fernandez, performed by the dancers, to live accompaniment by piano soloist Melody Fader. Mayuko Shoka, Ashley Murphy and Rene Bharath Kim were the three dancers whose personalities stood out during this piece. Ricketts remarked as it ended that Shoka reminded her of ‘Virginia’ in her days with the company.

The audience was thrilled by the duet which followed titled ‘Episode’, choreographed by Peter Pucci, and performed by Lordes Rodriguez and Fredrick Davis. The two characters, decked in red and black, worked created illusions of oneness throughout the piece incorporating acrobatic references with striking effect. New Bach choreographed by resident choreographer Robert Garland followed, and showcased breathtaking transitions and tableau’s and gave a good sense of the style and variations that categorized DTH over the years.

During intermission Ricketts shared that she once inspired Mitchell to do a ballet, which incorporated African Dance into the classical form on Pointe. She explains how it happened telling us that one day in studio she was playing around and Mitchell saw her doing the African in her pointe shoes and was fascinated especially since Ricketts had always resisted and found it difficult to tackle traditional pointe work.

 We began talking about the culture of dance, and she highlighted that one of the big limitations was that there was a perception that dance was not something to make a living out of, citing how difficult it is for a child in society to say, “I don’t want to go to medical school but to dance instead”. This is directly linked to the lack of hours of committed dance time for many dancers who practice in after-work hours 2 to 3 times a week. Ricketts stressed that dance training needed to be 6 hours a day to gain levels of excellence. She cited Cuba as a good example of how the arts have  facilitated and the culture is facilitative to the maintenance of high standards. 

The curtains opened once more and this time on stage we see silhouettes on four men on stage, a lone female in a short red costume is visible. It was the highlight of the afternoon. The piece, titled ‘In the Mirror of her mind’, choreographed by Christopher Huggins to benefit dancers responding to HIV/AIDS featured Ashley Murphy, Alexandra Jacob Wilson, Fredrick Davis, Jehbreal Jackson and David Kim and was emotionally riveting. The audience members gasping as they experienced raw emotions signaling the battle which the characters on stage were all confronted with. 
The show was strong from beginning to end and a piece titled ‘Return’ a very lively ‘neo-classical urban funky’ piece also by Richard Garland ended the afternoons offerings. The score was a mix of the legends of funk James Brown and Aretha Franklin.  
The audience stood and clapped in appreciation of the great DTH production. We said our goodbyes though the connections, images, and discussions linger, indelibly inked in the subconscious until we meet again. Such is the nature of cultural exchange, once you’ve experienced something new, you yourself become changed.