|Barbara Requa - "A Dance Educator Extraordinaire"|
The PSCCA Arts Festival is an annual display of intercontinental performing arts with the Jamaica Dance Umbrella specifically providing a platform honouring the work of dancers and dance artistes while providing a platform for prominent dance collectives from across the island, the Caribbean as well as other regions including North and South America to showcase their talents. In celebrating 5 years as Jamaica’s premier dance festival the organisers hosted their first dance focused panel discussion – ‘DANCE DIALOGUES: MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH DANCE’.
The panel dubbed "Dance Dialogues" was presented under the patronage of the Embassy of France in Jamaica and produced in partnership with the Kingston Book Festival (Book Industry Association of Jamaica).
Perhaps the highlight of the afternoon, after a very vibrant and necessary discussion on the evolution of dance in Jamaica, Barbados, the Caribbean and its Diaspora, the JDU team honoured Mrs. Barbara Requa, the consummate artiste who has devoted her life's work to creating an enabling environment for the evolution of the Jamaican dance scene for generations to come.
The Panel featured Barbara Requa, Dr. L'Antoinette Stines, Monica Dasilva, Maria Hitchins, Aisha Comissiong, and Khama Phillips who spoke of moments when they fell in love with dance and how this love has evolved. Dr. Stines animatedly shared about standing at the gate of dance studios clandestinely learning ballet as a little girl because she knew her mother couldn't afford to pay for classes but she really wanted to dance and could do it "better than the girls in the studio."
Monica DaSilva, who has been documenting Jamaican Dance for over 25 years, spoke of the lackluster Jamaican market for dance photography. A few audience members chimed in with suggestions, comments and comparisons to other markets.
Maria Hitchins encouraged more scholarship on topics such as the Jamaican dancehall culture. This discussion evolved alongside a discussion on the "language of dance" and how this "language" can be applicable to the wider audience. Also discussed was the responsibility of journalists who cover dance. It was the general consensus that dancers needed to be greater stakeholders in the process as they understood the language of dance and could communicate it effectively.
Aisha Comissiong and Khama Phillips widened the perspective of the discussions by sharing their stories relevant to the dance culture in Barbados and underscored the need for greater development in the application of contemporary infusion of home-grown dance techniques.
The discussions were hard hitting and very relevant to the evolution of the dance space in the Caribbean. The involvement of the "Book Industry" as stakeholders was apt for the occasion as there is a dearth of Caribbean publications focused on dance.