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Preservation of culture and heritage in Dominica By Rhesa Lawrence

Situated in the middle of the Lesser Antilles Dominica is a very culture and heritage rich island. When cultures are changing more and more due integration and climate change which cause disastrous hurricanes as times progress; it leads me to question 'What programs are put in place to preserve our cultural practices such as dance and language?' The Dominican culture includes dance, art and language . The first cultural center to be established on the island to date is the Old Mill Cultural Center. The Old Mill currently is the home to an art gallery, the Division of Culture and a dance studio.

Dance

Waitukubuli Dance Theatre Company

The first National Dance company created was the Waitukubuli Dance Theatre company. They have been performing both folk dance, modern and folk theatrical pieces since the 1980's. That is just about 40 years of not only modeling the youth but also adults so that they may portray our culture with their bodies.One of the original member is Mr. Raymond Lawrence who is currently the cheif cultural officer and the owner of the Waitukubuli Dance Theatre Company.

From Left to Right: depiction of a Papi show wedding, African Heritage and finally a scene from our Kalinago heritage all shown through dance

Siboulie Massacre Cultural Group

Cultural groups like this one focus more on our folk dances such as the belle, quadrille, heel-and- toes and the other. According to one of their members 'to fully master the art they are taught where all of these dances come from and how they were created.' They also try to learn the different forms of folk dances from around the island for example when they learned the three styles of flirtation portrayed by the different cultural districts around the island. This Cultural Group consist of both an junior and senior section so that the children can learn at their pace and the adults continue to learn more folk dances. The Siboulie Massacre Cultural Group has even perform at cultural events and other events

Paix Bouche Cultural Group

Is a well known and very active cultural group. With just about 36 years of portraying and teach people the Dominican culture just like the previous cultural group they to focus on our folk dances and portray them at cultural events and other competitions.

Depiction of the Belle dance

Language

Siboulie Massacre and the Paix Bouche Cultural Groups

A huge aspect of these cultural groups are their chants and these chants and songs are always sang in patois; the island native dialect. They both have to learn the original folk songs and belle songs and sometimes they create their own songs like the Siboulie Masscare Cultural Group who after Maria made two new songs 'Domnichen ah nous danse bele' and 'Pa fait coleh'. it is trough these songs that they are able to learn our patois. as new comers come in and younger children become more interest with our culture, these groups have now began to write out the various folk song so that they can be learned faster. While there is no school who currently carry a patois speaking courses; being active cultural groups and other programs like these is a way of learning our language through fun activities like singing.

Paix Bouche cultural group singing a song in Kweyol at THe Cultural Gala in 2014

Art

Traveling around the island various murals can be observed these murals are apart of our culture in the sense that they don't only tell a story from our history but some them also portray our cultural practices and and language

Old Mill Cultural Centre

The Gallery at the Old Mill is home to professional and amateur local artist alike. Some of the Art are simple portraits of our nature while others bring to life present issues going on around the country. Finally the last type of paintings are a clear depiction of our culture and our folklore stories.

Waitukubuli Art Association

Vibrant, colourful painting have been popping up all around the island. A group of young artist led By Lowell Royer has taken it upon themselves to showcase our language, culture and other aspects of our island in prime spots around the country. The most popular one is the ' Sa Ka Fete' painting on the Dame Eugenia Boulevard near the Cruise ship Birth. The phrase in the painting is the Kweyole translation of 'Whats happening?' . They have also done an 'Apres Bondie C'est La Ter' painting; this phrase is also our islands motto which means 'After God is the Earth'. This painting is situated on the near the Woodbridge Bay Port.

Kalinago Territory

The native inhabitants of the island has their own way of making their art in the form of straw weaving. Driving through the kalinago Territory it is hard to miss the road side stall with beautiful straw creations such as baskets and hand held fans. This group of people pass on their ways from one generation to the next by showing their young ones how it is done. However, there are a few workshops held to show a larger group on how to make straw creations.

Left; a Kalinago woman in the process of making a straw basket. Right: another Kalinago woman standing my her beautiful creations
Created By
Rhesa Lawrence
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