Drum call at Tobago Heritage
By Yohanseh Asukile Friday, August 3 2012
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DRUM SKILLS: Pauline Hamilton, a student of the Tableland Secondary School-Visual and Performing Arts Group, displays incredible flexibility while bea...
The village of Bethel played host to the last of the Tobago Heritage Festival production on Tuesday evening at the Montgomery Recreation Ground in Bethel.
This year the Bethel Village Council opted to move away from their more customary drama presentation and instead put on a drum festival with folk dances, songs as well as a fashion show featuring African garments. President of the Village Council Cloyd Williams said they wanted a shift from the past heritage productions that at times bordered on “mild sexuality”.
The focus this year, he added, was more on the educational aspect of Tobago’s heritage — drumming, dancing and songs.
“The drums have always been a significant part of our heritage since it was the instrument used by our ancestors to communicate and send messages during slavery and even in times before that,” he said.
The show was well attended and the audience seemed very appreciative of all the drum groups that performed. The first to really capture the attention of the audience was the Tableland Secondary School-Visual and Performing Arts Group who visited from South Trinidad.
The 45-member contingent, of whom 33 were students, made the crowd come alive with their creative style of drumming accompanied with dancing. Their early performance was exactly what the crowd needed to inspire excitement into the show.
Beverly Chinapoo-Duke, a drama teacher at the school, said they were invited to perform at their first heritage festival based on their drumming and bele dances at the Best Village competition. They welcomed the opportunity since drama and theatre arts are on the CXC syllabus, so the students were getting practical knowledge. The group also performed at the bele festival last June in Belle Garden.
The other specially invited group, Tivoli Drummers from Grenada, simply left the crowd wanting more of their unusual mix of drumming both on the drum and the sides of the drums. At one point, a buoy was used as musical instrument to great effect. The group of six men and three women specialises in choreographed drumming and their constant moving and shifting during their rendition, which included dancing, was a new experience for many in attendance. They simply awed the crowd with a new dimension to drumming.
A number of local groups also captivated the crowd with their pulsating drum rhythms and one of them, the Kulture Shop, even went as far as to get the crowd singing a chorus briefly to a performance that should have been longer. Some of the other groups on the night were Mason Hall, Emelda Cruickshank Folk Drummers, Drummers of Tomorrow and the Orisha Group.