A Carifesta Dance of Shame Explanation

Which country that you know of, would host CARIFESTA, and would organize a major international Dance exposition as the central event of the Festival, but would refuse to include a single one of their local or national dance groups in the said Dance exposition?

Well, if you guessed that the country is none other than Barbados you would have guessed right!

David Comissiong – A Carifesta Dance of Shame!

Citizen Advocate David Comissiong shocked Barbadians with the revelation last week the opening signal dance event at Carifesta to be hosted by Barbados from August 17 to 27, 2017 will feature no local dancers. In the interest of being fair to the other players in this matter BU sought clarification.

There is an Advisory Committee which consist of Barbadian dance professionals from the NCF, BCC, and Dancin’ Africa that recommended the decision to exclude local acts.

Why was this decision made?

There is a strong though regrettable view that Barbados does not have the calibre of professional dance groups to match those coming from the other islands.  The main consideration is the size and professional setup of the dance markets of the other islands AND the breath of experience by the dancers from those other islands gained from touring and performing on a more frequent basis.

Dance groups in Barbados are non professional if we use NIFCA to assess status including the vaunted Dancin’ Africa and Aisha Comissiong. BU mentions these names because they represent the cream of the leadership and talent of local dancing. BU was informed that although local dancers like Aisha Comissiong, Suzanne Watts, Keisha Amory have been recipients of NIFCA scholarships AND studied overseas- not to mention Keisha Dowridge and Maisha Jordan who are graduates of the BCC programme- they have never entered the professional category.

The Carifesta program is littered with several events where local dancers will perform or collaborate with acts from other islands.There is therefore the opportunity to showcase local dance talent. The signal dance event at Carifesta is meant to imply professional excellence.

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34 Comments on “A Carifesta Dance of Shame Explanation”

  1. aishaday0 July 17, 2017 at 10:00 PM #

    The same Aisha Comissiong that has been asked to be on the very same stage with the Jamaican company….?? That one?? The same company I’ve danced and trained with for 6 years. Me dem talking? Just checking…

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  2. aishaday0 July 17, 2017 at 10:09 PM #

    As the “cream of leadership and talent of local dancing” (aka non-professional and definitely substandard by any professional level according to those at the helm) … Bless yuh for the compliments though very loaded they may be – do tell where will I be showcased if any at all at Carifesta for Barbados? Absolutely no where! And I’ll be the first to state that I have already pinpointed the glaring lies in this article.

    Like

  3. Gabriel July 17, 2017 at 10:16 PM #

    If the JA Lashley knew long ago that Barbados would be hosting Carifesta and he had any integrity he would have ensured among the plans for the event items which would showcase Barbados, including dance.You don’t wake up a month before a major cultural event and ask for the plans.

    Like

  4. David Comissiong July 17, 2017 at 10:45 PM #

    If BU is correct in confirming that this decision not to include any Barbadian dance group in the most prestigious Dance event that will be staged at CARIFESTA was made on the advice of the NCF and the Barbados Community College’s dance programme, this only compounds the injury and insult, and demonstrates how deeply rooted the inferiority complex is. ( For the record, BU is wrong when it asserts that the leadership of Dancin Africa was party to any such backward and disgusting advice. Somebody is clearly spreading misinformation and trying to muddy the waters)

    I am the father of Aisha Comissiong and I therefore make it my business to attend most of the national dance programmes in Barbados. Furthermore, when my daughter was studying and dancing in Jamaica, I would often travel to Jamaica to take in the major dance programmes that she was involved in. I have also had the privilege of witnessing a numbers of dance programmes in Cuba, Haiti, Trinidad, Guadeloupe, and several other Caribbean countries.

    Based on my direct experience of Dance in Barbados and the Caribbean I have absolutely no qualms in asserting that Barbados possesses a core of talented dancers and choreographers that can measure up to the dancers and choreographers of Trinidad, Jamaica, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Haiti– the five Caribbean countries from which dance groups have been selected to perform at the prestigious Garfield Sobers Gymnasium event. And I know that my daughter shares this opinion with me.

    It should be borne in mind that Aisha Comissiong is a member of the Jamaican dance group– L’Acadco — that has been selected to perform at the prestigious Gymnasium event, and therefore she will be on stage at that event. So her “professional” qualifications have been established. And she will tell you– as she has already done in an earlier BU post– that there are Barbadian dance groups that belong on that stage and that can hold their own with the five selected Caribbean groups.

    At the end of the day though, it really comes down to a basic issue of self respect. Can you think of any other Caribbean country that would stage a prestigious Art event and invite groups from five other Caribbean countries, while at the same time determining that none of its own groups are to be included?

    And this is a show that will be financed by the Barbadian taxpayer and patronized predominantly by a Barbadian audience??? Are we Bajans for real???

    DAVID COMISSIONG

    Like

  5. GRochester1 July 17, 2017 at 11:16 PM #

    This diatribe is interesting to say the very least. Very well packaged to appease the querying mind of any average Joe who has been sitting on the sidelines while all the shots have been fired. But there is a very different taste left in the mouth of anyone a little closer to the “drama”.

    Let’s break it down, shall we?

    “In the interest of being fair to the other players in this matter BU sought clarification.” – Valiant, though futile given the inaccuracy of the information cited.

    “There is an Advisory Committee which consist of Barbadian dance professionals from the NCF, BCC, and Dancin’ Africa that recommended the decision to exclude local acts.” – Is there an advisory committee? Best believe it. Did each of the individual representative members of this committee in fact say “no” to putting local acts onstage? NO. A fact that was attested to by the artistic director himself. Meaning that if there were a chance that one of the members of this committee could in fact sway the decision to leave Barbadians dancers off the stage, he/she was casually denied the opportunity to do so or make a case for the Barbadian dancers.

    “There is a strong though regrettable view that Barbados does not have the calibre of professional dance groups to match those coming from the other islands.” – Can you believe it? Held by the very people who have the power to make the difference!

    “The main consideration is the size and professional setup of the dance markets of the other islands AND the breath of experience by the dancers from those other islands gained from touring and performing on a more frequent basis.” – LOL. Why do I laugh? Because though there are no actual performing or touring companies here by definition, we have enough dancers who individually have attained such experience on their own. Why is it that in the consideration of whether or not we have groups that are “good enough” to “hold their own” on the stage with these foreign acts, there has seemingly been no initiative to pull together the same individual dancers, even if on a temporary business? How do you bring the largest regional platform to your home and not put up the best curtains in the house, leaving the windows bare?

    “Dance groups in Barbados are non professional if we use NIFCA to assess status including the vaunted Dancin’ Africa and Aisha Comissiong. BU mentions these names because they represent the cream of the leadership and talent of local dancing. BU was informed that although local dancers like Aisha Comissiong, Suzanne Watts, Keisha Amory have been recipients of NIFCA scholarships AND studied overseas- not to mention Keisha Dowridge and Maisha Jordan who are graduates of the BCC programme- they have never entered the professional category.” – This paragraph is a whole heap of Ad Hominem FOLLY. Why? Is Dancin Africa the only dance group in Barbados that has attained any level of excellence or accolades worth showcasing? Why is it that the only names called are ALL FEMALE choreographers or dancers with that group? Or are there only 5 dancers in the whole of Barbados who have pursued studies or travelled overseas to study? Maybe that’s why we can’t get onstage….hmmm. This paragraph may SEEM factual but it is a pointed smokescreen attack on an individual who has unfortunately been singled out in this whole back and forth between the “powers that be” and the disgruntled dance community. This paragraph is the reason this whole piece of writing lacks value, transparency and intergrity.

    “The Carifesta program is littered with several events where local dancers will perform or collaborate with acts from other islands. There is therefore the opportunity to showcase local dance talent.” – Really? This is news! Is this the official word?

    “The signal dance event at Carifesta is meant to imply professional excellence.” – Says who? By what set of rules? When researched CARIFESTA – Caribbean Festival of Art. It doesn’t say Caribbean Festival of Professional Art and then some non-professional, if you’re interested. How do we find it fair to separate ourselves from the rest of the Caribbean ON OUR VERY OWN SOIL? How do you willingly tell your guests “I have nothing to show.” It is outrageous – euphemism used here. And for the life of me and the sake of my peers, please highlight the paragraph in the rulebook where it says that the signal night is reserved for professional excellence only.

    P.S.

    Get ya facts straight.

    Like

  6. David July 17, 2017 at 11:50 PM #

    @David Comissiong

    Isn’t Jennifer Sealy a member of the Advisory Committee?

    Like

  7. David July 17, 2017 at 11:57 PM #

    @Aisha Comissiong

    BU can only share what we were able to find out. Whether Barbados as a dance country is on par with the other countries we will defer to others.

    Like

  8. David Comissiong July 18, 2017 at 12:01 AM #

    What I am saying is that she never gave any such ridiculous advice. Why would she? Truth be told, the Barbadian dance group that has most earned the right to be on that stage is Jennifer Sealy’s Dancing Africa group.

    Like

  9. David July 18, 2017 at 12:05 AM #

    To be clear, you are saying that Jennifer Sealy whi is a member of the Advisory Committee dissented when this committee recommended that Barbados not be involved in the signal dance event? If she was a dissenting voice why not withdraw?

    Like

  10. David Comissiong July 18, 2017 at 12:08 AM #

    You know David, the Jamaican dancers that we are in contact with are just as shocked as we are that Barbados would stage such a show and refuse to include one of their own groups. There is no right thinking person that would approve of this.

    And so it is up to us to ensure that those in authority hear our voices and correct this outrage.

    Like

  11. David July 18, 2017 at 12:09 AM #

    @Gabriel

    Is it fair to suggest that Lashley is involved in that level of planning? Of interest to BU is that the decison to host Carifesta was made in 2015. We should have planned better to avoid this embarrassment.

    Like

  12. David July 18, 2017 at 12:10 AM #

    @DC

    Let us hope the noise raised even at this eleventh hour will provoke some tweaking.

    Like

  13. aishaday0 July 18, 2017 at 2:14 AM #

    Hey David,

    I am very close to Jennifer Sealy and I can guarantee you that she was not present when that meeting was had, and EVERYONE knows this including those at the helm, those above and all other powers that be. She is VERY upset by this article but has chosen to stay away from the internet discussion. Instead she has assured the dancers of her group that (in my own words) “nuttin nuh guh suh!” In fact she also went so far as to point out that she was NOT appointed said role as a member of Dancin’ Africa but rather: “First thing DA is not represented there. I represent DANCE as someone who has lead representations regionally and internationally…” and therefore to suggest that she was representing Dancin’ Africa on the committee and in the same breath that she would assert that her own group which is known for 25 years of excellence is not worthy is a very malicious and incorrect statement (from whoever fed you this information).

    Like

  14. David July 18, 2017 at 5:48 AM #

    @Aisha

    As far as BU is aware the members of the Advisory Committee on dance – Alicia Payne-Hurley, Shama Harding and Jennifer Sealy.

    Like

  15. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger July 18, 2017 at 6:46 AM #

    That’s a halfassed trifling excuse….how woukd the Barbados dancers ever become “professional world class”…..if they are not continually exposed to being throen into the sky and allowed the freedom to soar.

    That’s the same, petty, small time mentality used on Barbados’ scholars, geniuses, inventors, creatives..

    The other islands did not wake up one morning to be quality world class professionals, it did nit and never happend overnight, after years of exposure and practice they reached their zenith.

    But the titled idiots are much too mentally lazy to think that far.

    That exposes the problem with people at the fore front of pushing progress on the island, they are mentally lazy and stagnate progress for bajans…..then complain the artistes are not ready yet….jackasses.

    Like

  16. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger July 18, 2017 at 6:50 AM #

    Iam surprised at Jennifer, she has been involved in dance from school days….that is nit 2 mornings ago, she knows the island’s dancers have had exposure and if they are not yet ready to PRACTICE their art on the world stage to become truly professional enough or on Barbados’ tiny stage for others to enjoy, they never will be..,,,

    Like

  17. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger July 18, 2017 at 6:51 AM #

    Jennifer has always been quiet, but on this she should kick up a much bigger fuss…..

    Like

  18. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger July 18, 2017 at 7:07 AM #

    I say that because she is being maliciously disrespected by others on that halfassed Committee, most of them were probably not even born yet when Jennifer was in school uniform going to practice dance on evenings….in the 70s.

    But that is how they operate, disrespect those who know better.

    Do not let them get away with this.

    Like

  19. Bush Tea July 18, 2017 at 7:55 AM #

    This nonsense is par for the course in Barbados.

    Is this not EXACTLY what Sir Cave did…in naming his sports field at Cave Hill after a Jamaican hero?
    Here is THE man being paid to produce Barbadian super-stars, making the decision that his work has been bare shiite over the many years – so he is forced to name the only sports complex in Barbados (PAID FOR BY TAXPAYERS) after a Jamaican (admittedly a great one).

    ….and no one fired his black ass.

    Now we have the people responsible for the development of this art form – making the decision that they have failed miserably over the years – certainly as compared to other Caribbean islands, and expecting to continue spending tax payers money as usual…

    Bushie would fire ALL their black asses – starting with Lil Short Hitler….

    Talk about brass bowlery….

    Like

  20. Hants July 18, 2017 at 8:59 AM #

    A BARBADOS dance group MUST be on stage August 24th.

    A pride that makes no wanton boast
    Of what it has withstood
    That binds our hearts from coast to coast
    The pride of nationhood!

    Like

  21. David July 18, 2017 at 9:09 AM #

    @Hants

    Bear in mind we are targeting the signal dance event.

    Like

  22. aishaday0 July 18, 2017 at 11:14 AM #

    David, being on the committee means absolutely NOTHING if you are not given the chance to actually advise on anything. The other two have been placed in charge of events and Jennifer has not. Take what you want from that. I’m leaving this alone.

    Like

  23. Gabriel July 18, 2017 at 11:31 AM #

    David
    Bushie has made the point.Any serious Minister, which Lashley is not,worth his or her salt,knowing the regional and international reach of Carifesta,would have had all his advisers come together early o’clock,and draft, then subsequently fine tune those events.This limp di..k lilliputian is in over his head.

    Like

  24. bajans July 18, 2017 at 4:00 PM #

    I’m ashamed to be Bajan. This is how amateurs become professional….by performing with professionals in an international arena. This opens their eyes to different standards and finesse so that they can improve their art form. Without exposure they will never grow. I have seen some groups in Barbados and they are good. I, once or twice, saw performances by kids from the Israel Lovell foundation and they all had the talent.

    I have seen Cubans, Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Kenyans, Tanzanians and many others. Each has something different to offer. When I go to these shows, I go to enjoy the arts not judge and mark. Barbados should have entered at least two dance groups as the host.

    There is a young Barbadian, Ms. Nichols, who graduated from Ryerson and has been dancing for Disney in the Lion King. I am sure there are others.

    Poor Barbados.

    Like

  25. Tell me Why July 18, 2017 at 4:25 PM #

    I made my comment earlier regarding our dancers not participating during the Dance Exposition. This is pure nonsense whoever made such a foolish decision. Who are the dumberts who make up the Advisory Committee. Is it the second rated committee who were appointed to fill the void of the seasoned creative NCF staffers who are engaged in the Kadooment activities? Was the decision to leave out our star performers who grace Frank Collymore Hall to sell-out crowds made by these newbees and the ministry staff? Was the full-time creative specialists within the NCF contacted before this insult to our dancers? Would dialogue prevail before August or the stubborn behaviour continue? This is sickening.

    Like

  26. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger July 18, 2017 at 5:37 PM #

    Yeah….Bushman….I always wondered why the thing was not named after Ryan Brathwaite, hopefully the little track behind the Lazaretto is named after Brathwaite. ……..as an olympian.

    …..while Bolt rocks and is well loved, a bajan youth would be more likely and given incentive to want to win 2 or 3 olympic golds to Brathwaite’s one gold….just because Brathwaite is bajan…..just to show he or she can do better.

    ….same way a Jamaican youth would have major incentive to break Bolt’s record and do a triple, triple, triple….to Bolt’s triple, triple….because he is Jamaican….and super star quality.

    Even with the cursed degrees, these titked idiots still have no appreciation for their own.

    Just look how they are disrespecting a gem like Jennifer Sealy….

    …these fly by night nobodies.

    Like

  27. Yatinkiteasy July 18, 2017 at 6:53 PM #

    This is just not acceptable , justifiable or decent . It is actually insulting that the host country is not permitted to showcase its own talented dance group . Mr Lashley is dropping the ball! I say boycot the damn thing .. don’t go to the show or shows . Let there be many empty seats . Bajans can not continue to be so complacent.

    Like

  28. Bush Tea July 18, 2017 at 7:22 PM #

    @ Aishadayo
    David, being on the committee means absolutely NOTHING
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    You are preaching at the converted dear…
    Everyone who works for this short man knows his modus operandi of micro management.

    It is a clear sign of small-mindedness that appears to be endemic in the DLP ..that all these shiite ministers must have the final word …in even the minutest of details…

    This WHOLE fiasco is probably all tied to the imagined political affiliations of those dancers who would likely be highlighted, should a local act be allowed on stage in Lashley’s big do…

    This place is the very antithesis of a meritocracy ..run by the very antithesis of wisdom.

    Like

  29. Kevin July 18, 2017 at 8:07 PM #

    I thought the Pinelands Creative Workshop performing at Carifesta.

    Like

  30. David July 18, 2017 at 8:15 PM #

    @Kevin

    You must read and understand.

    Like

  31. Retribution-things that make me go hum! July 19, 2017 at 6:21 PM #

    Isn’t this why the masses are ask not to strike and be reminded of Crop over and CARIFESTA?

    Like

  32. Retribution-things that make me go hum! July 19, 2017 at 6:24 PM #

    Aisha and the likes should ask themselves why the real macoys in Dance( Woodvines, Trotman, stay away from the politics of it all.

    Like

  33. Retribution-things that make me go hum! July 19, 2017 at 6:29 PM #

    Could have never happen if Danny Hinds was the Dance officer but hum! Keep my mouth shut bozie.

    Like

  34. aishaday0 July 19, 2017 at 7:09 PM #

    That being said, Pinelands will be putting on their OWN shows. They have made this very clear to me – nothing Government assisted.

    Like

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