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The Bahamas has a rich legacy of cultural icons known internationally and abroad for being pioneers in their field - from Sidney Poitier to Tony McKay to Paul Meeres. Yet many Bahamians know little about these figures who built them a rich heritage. Lack of tribute to such giants have allowed their stories to slip away, but with a new initiative by Doongalik Studios, their impact is being brought back into our cultural consciousness.
Thanks to the initiative by a core committee of people - Jackson Burnside, Pam Burnside, Orchid Burnside, Charles Carter and Fred Ferguson - last year, Doongalik Studios hosted the exhibition "Remembering Youngie and Exuma".
Under the curatorship of Orchid Burnside who drove most of the research based on her training at the Smithsonian Museum, the exhibition collected countless items of memorabilia about Bahamian music icons Tony McKay and Joseph Spence to piece together the important stories and impact these figures had on our cultural landscape - both at home and abroad.
"I want people to recognize how talented we are and realize just how much information is here about our Bahamian stars and heroes, and that we really need to appreciate it," explains Orchid. "They need to see these people made a difference here and abroad, so there is no excuse for them to do it too."
Now named "The Jackson Burnside Annual Conversations on Culture" after Jackson's passing earlier this year, the exhibitions continue to examine primarily performers as forgotten heroes to inform and inspire Bahamians today about their history and potential.
"We said we definitely needed to continue this legacy because Jackson was so excited about it all," says Pam. "Jackson was very concerned about educating especially young people about all of this cultural treasure we have in this country that we know nothing about, and so the youngsters now are claiming foreign icons when we have some right here."
Indeed, it's where the sentiment for the phrase for the conversations, "See what you're looking at", comes from - telling the stories of our own greats right here at home.
Storytelling is indeed a large part of the "Annual Conversations" - last year for "Youngie and Exuma", it became apparent that even though Orchid led the curation and information gathering from many foreign sources, many people in the community had memorabilia and their own stories to add. To that effect, they hosted a series of lectures dedicated to the community sharing their interactions with the two singers.
"People were really moved by it and wanted every night to be lecture night," says Orchid. "They asked us when there would be more. So when we wrapped we didn't want it to die - we made a list of forgotten heroes whose lives we wanted to make into an exhibition to celebrate."
This year, keeping in the tradition to focus on performers, especially those who made waves abroad, the committee - with the added help of Dr. Keith Wisdom - chose to focus on three giants of Bahamian dance. The current exhibition, "The Spirit of the Dance", synthesizes countless pieces of memorabilia from the lives and legacies of Shirley Hall-Bass, Paul Meeres and Hubert Farrington who not only made waves internationally but also formed a culture of dance at home through teaching many generations of Bahamians.
"Shirley Hall-Bass - though she's not a Bahamian - taught me and my mother, so that's already two generations of Bahamians who have been influenced by her," says Orchid.
"Hubert Farrington taught a ton of Bahamians. Paul Meeres too, and brought Peanuts Taylor, Chippy Chipman, The Count--they all came up in his theater and learned how to be performers," she explains. "So Bahamian entertainment kind of came out of all these people."
Indeed, when the exhibition opened earlier this month, Bahamians of all generations came together to celebrate the memories of these three irreplaceable figures. Such a gathering is already a tribute to their legacies, however just as last year, the community came together once more to contribute their own pieces of memorabilia to the exhibition.
"That was the great thing, because even though I was technically the curator of the show, it's like the whole community is the curator," says Orchid.
It means that "The Spirit of the Dance" will continue to change and grow as more information is collected and synthesized, the gathering itself another testament to the effect of these three dancers on the creative and wider community.
The great thing about The Jackson Burnside Annual Conversations on Culture is that any exhibition they hold will continue beyond their time on Doongalik's walls, for the committee plans to digitize and store all information they receive at the Jackson L. Burnside Research and Design Library, which is slated to open early next year.
It is Orchid, though, who is leading the way in this initiative. Her time hunting and synthesizing memorabilia from many international sources has shown her how important it is to have such information all in one place at home where Bahamians can access easily to learn more about these cultural icons.
"When these people make it big outside of The Bahamas as they often do, other people take notice and they build collections, not us," she points out.
"In a way it's kind of disheartening that we don't even have here a copy of pictures of our heroes. We have to go elsewhere to find them, but at least it's a consolation that the information still exists."
True to its inaugural effort, this Annual Conversation will launch its community conversations and lectures in January, bringing together ex-students and current legends in their own right to speak to the memories of Hall-Bass, Meeres and Farrington and their greatness. They will also be showing three documentaries--one on each dancer--in the New Year.
Indeed, viewers are encouraged to revisit the exhibition as it will continue to grow and change with new memorabilia, books and film. As it is free and open to the public, there is no excuse not to pay a visit and your respects to those who blazed a path for us at home and abroad.
"There is so much more than what you can put up on a wall, so much more to the story," says Orchid.
"We don't charge so people can participate in their own culture because it doesn't just belong here, it belongs to all of us."
"The Spirit of Dance" is on display at Doongalik Studios on Village Road from Mondays to Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will close in mid-February. For more information about the show and news about upcoming lectures, visit www.doongalik.com.
They came for the sheer joy of the music and movement. They came for the spotlight and self-expression through the discipline and freedom of the dance. But more than that they came for a cause -- to help children much like themselves, children who need and desire what all children should have, but for reasons beyond their control, do not have all the same advantages.
BOB's recent "Love that Child Dance and Music Showcase" drew an enthusiastic crowd to the Rainforest Theatre to support fundraising efforts on behalf of the Ranfurly Home for Children, The Elizabeth Estates Home for Children and The Children's Emergency Hostel.
The musical extravaganza of "Children Helping Children" featured performances by seven local dance schools, guest appearances from the Philadelphia 76ers Pre-pro Dance Team, Power Surge and Beat Addicts and lively vocals from Funky D, Damien Davis and the Meridian School Choir.
From the first number to the last dance finale, from ballet to jazz, and tap dancing to hip hop, the performers put on an unforgettable show for an appreciative audience.
BOB representatives said they were very pleased with the turnout for this year's show.
"This was the fourth time we've facilitated this benefit and this year was even better than last year," said Dominique Thompson, BOB marketing manager. "The children put on a fantastic show and we were delighted with the level of support from the public and corporate Bahamas."
All proceeds from "Love that Child" will go to assist with the needs of three children's homes in Nassau. A portion will provide partial funding for a training program to upgrade skills of caregivers at the Children's Emergency Hostel.
Sunday 23rd June 2013 7:00 PM
EURHYTHMICS DANCE STUDIO'S 19th Annual Production "Neon Music" 7:00pm June 23rd,2013 Rainforest Theatre, Crystal Palace Casino EURHYTHMICS DANCE STUDIO, The Bahamas' #1 Premier Dance Studio, under the direction of Gabriella Szabo, the Eurhythmics Dance Studio proudly presents its 19th Annual Dance Production: "NEON MUSIC" on Sunday, June 23rd at 7pm at the Rainforest Theatre, Crystal Palace Casino, Nassau. It will be a show filled with lots of surprises and exciting dance numbers that you DON'T want to miss. Conceived and Choreographed by: Ms. Gabriella Szabo Directed by: Gabriella Szabo and Mario Wright Star Performers: Students of the Eurhythmics Dance Studio. Features: 16 NEW Original pieces 2 Signature pieces 5 Favorite Dance Highlights from "Rock You Body." Funky D and Friends HD Dance Crew (Winners of Sprite's Dance Splash) The Show Stopping Performance will be held Sunday the 23rd of June 2013 at The Rain Forest Theater. Doors open at 6:00pm Showtime at 7:00pm Tickets: $25.00 (Available at The Studio, Rosetta Street) Students $15.00 (Balcony Only) Phone: 436-0303, 535-0956, 394-1822
NEW YORK - In an homage to the "Queen of Soul" music Aretha Franklin, a
celebrated troupe will celebrate the diva's music through modern dance.
Vissi Dance Theater will present their novel interpretations of the
music legend's classics at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center (JPAC) in
Jamaica, Queens on Saturday, September 17, 2011.
choreography will be featured at the second annual "Making Moves Dance
Festival" which will introduce audiences to a diverse group of
performers, including the NEVILLE Dance Theatre, Yoo & Dancers, and
Incorporating dance moves into The College of The Bahamas Concert Choir performances is vital to the overall success of their presentation, and after an intense dance workshop with a New York based Bahamian dancer they are now sure to have the right moves...
- Genre : Action, Comedy
- Rating : T - 15yrs and Older
Street dancer Thomas Uncles is from the wrong side of the tracks, but his bond with the beautiful Megan White might help the duo realize their dreams as the enter in the mother of all dance battles. |...
Grand Bahama - It's definitely that time of year; the glitz, the
glamour, the makeup and the costumes! The students of the Bahamas Dance
Theatre have spent the last few months preparing themselves and building
up their moment to shine on stage this Saturday and Sunday at the
The Show, which is entitled, "The BDT Awards"
marks the 17th anniversary of the Bahamas Dance Theatre. "Our annual
dance recital is the culmination to which our season ends and our
students look forward to it each year," says Jullion Collie, Artistic
Director and producer of The BDT Awards.