3. JANUKA’s contribution to the Festival

We were disappointed to have missed the press conference and our 1st performance at L’Apalooza on Day 1 of the festival, due to our delay in getting to Martinique.

1: The Panel discussion – 2nd night – Solemn experience

Dressed in our Bandana costumes we travelled at sunset to a place called Genot Exilie for the panel discussion about Quadrille in the diaspora. The panel comprised of group leaders from the 4 International groups. Beverley, our group coordinator, was well prepared to represent our group.

The Mayor of Francois and other dignitaries asked several questions in French, translated into English, about the continuation and impact of quadrille in our respective diaspora communities.

“In responses to the variety of questions asked, it transpired that we had a lot in common, especially our passion and determination to promote our sub-cultures in our own unique way”

Because of the late start, the discussion continued well into the night, resulting in dispersal of the audience. This was a solemn experience.

  • Panel discussion with group leaders

2: Our 1st dance performance – 2nd night – Exceptional

Our 1st dance took place at Genot Exilie on the 2nd night of the Festival following the group leaders’ panel discussion. We were the 2nd of the 2 dance groups to perform that night.

Dressed in our bandana costume, we sat and waited patiently in the warm tropical evening with excitement and readiness.

Because the discussion was running late, we started our performance well into the night (after 11pm), to a dwindling audience. Despite being hot, weary and still “jet lagged” we did our best to showcase a shortened version of one of the many dance routines we had prepared.

“This was an exceptional experience”

  • Dancing after Panel discussion

3: Dancing workshops in schools – Day 3 – Engaging and inspiring experience

We loved the time we spent at the 2 schools – Ecole Elementaire Emmanuel Bruno and Anne Marc, performing for the children, as well as supporting a few children as they danced with us.

The morning workshop at the Emmanuel Bruno primary school was inspiring. We were impressed with the children’s behaviour, enthusiasm, interest, eagerness to learn and to participate in dance. They danced with such ease, rhythm and style.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the number of children who were engaged with Quadrille dancing, some to a significant degree…. “I loved watching them”

  • Visit to Schools - Januka

4: Dancing in Sainte–Anne – Day 4 – Fulfilling experience

One particular highlight and an unforgettable event for us was the night we danced under the stars in Sainte-Anne, a town at the southern tip of the island. We travelled by coach, about an hour’s drive from our Bungalow. It was early evening so we were able to take in the scenery – peaceful, lush and green, pretty houses surrounded by tropical greenery and hardly any traffic or people in sight.

When we arrived the evening’s entertainment was already underway. The town square had been decorated with bunting and balloons. A raised platform in the middle of the square was provided for the dancers with small tables and chairs dotted around for the audience.

“It was with anticipation and excitement that I gazed at the eager and welcoming crowd as they watched the local dancers…There was an air of festival – lively, and a relaxed crowd eating, drinking and having a good time. The moonlight was enhanced by the electric light bulbs strung from poles, twinkling in the night sky”

Our group was warmly welcomed, presented with food and drink while we waited our turn to dance. From the upstairs balcony of the Mayor’s office, the setting looked magical. One could look down and across the town square to the Marina and take in the aquamarine sea, small boats bobbing in the harbour, people dressed in vibrant clothes mingling, laughing and enjoying the evening’s entertainment.

We danced the Ballroom Style and Camp Style quadrille we had prepared to our recorded music. Our performance went smoothly, and the locals were full of praise regarding the uniqueness of our music, dance and costume.

We went back to the Mayor’s office for more refreshments and a photo opportunity with the Mayor and the other local groups that performed.

“From my point of view, our performance that evening was without doubt one of our best. We wanted to please our audience and leave them something to remember us by. They also left me memories that give a warm glow whenever I reflect on that time”

We were a very happy group on the coach en route back to our lodgings. Someone started singing and before long we were singing all the Jamaican folks songs that we could remember. This was quite hilarious at times especially when we couldn’t quite remember some of the words and just made them up….Oh what a night!!!

We were informed the next day that our performance was televised on the local television station. We were pleased to hear that.

  • St Anne - The Marina

5: Our final dance – Day 5 – Challenging experience

We travelled at sunset to Salle des Fetes, dressed in our bandana costume. This was the final concert, the climax of our experience, eagerly anticipated.

When we arrived the show had already started on a high, brightly lit open stage. There were lots of performers dressed in their brightly coloured costumes, laughing, chatting and patiently waiting to be called on stage to perform. The large audience filled the open ground space in front of the stage, enjoying, clapping and cheering each dance, with an MC encouraging a show of appreciation. There was a wonderful carnival atmosphere.

“I recall a long wait in the performers’ holding bay. The programme was running very late. We kept enquiring how much longer we had to wait. We became hot and fatigued, the atmosphere became tense, but we tried to remain calm. The show must go on”

It was nearly midnight when we were called to perform. By this time the crowd was already dispersing and due to technical problems, our dance time was cut short.

“I was convinced that if we had live musical accompaniment, like all the other performing groups, the outcome would have been different for us”

I recall a long wait in the performers’ holding bay. The programme was running very late. We kept enquiring how much longer we had to wait. We became hot and fatigued, the atmosphere became tense, but we tried to remain calm. The show must go on

This was a disorientating and frustrating because we really wanted to dance. However our unique style of quadrille dancing and accompanying music was truly revealed and appreciated by the encouraging audience.

  • Final performance
    Final performance

Videos courtesy of Town of Francois.

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