The Waitukubuli Dance Theatre Company will celebrate their 52nd anniversary this weekend with a dance production entitled ‘Splendors of Waitukubuli’ displaying the art form they have cultivated over the last 52 years.
Former Chief Cultural Officer and Director of the Waitukubuli Dance Theatre Company, Mr. Raymond Lawrence highlighted their upcoming 52nd anniversary dance production.
“This weekend we are observing our 52nd anniversary. The title of the show is ‘Splendors of Waitukubuli’ and again linking with the creole and Dominican identity. Splendors in the sense of just the dance expressions this time that have come out of the experience of Waitukubuli,” Mr. Lawrence explained.
The dance production will feature a number of dance expressions promoting the rich heritage of Dominica.
”Usually we try to provide a wide range of different I mentioned a lot of the creole and the Dominican identity that’s one of the things I really like about our dance company promoting our culture, our heritage. I think that’s very important to us and then now we have all the new afro beats coming in… the creole rhythms from the Caribbean and so and then we do some gospel and so on and we always do a comedy what we call a dance comedy as part of our show,” he explained.
Mr. Lawrence spoke of the origins of the Waitukubuli Dance Theatre Company.
“Well we started way back in January 1971 and we started as a youth group really with different aspects like dance, drama, debates, discussions…we did all types of different activities. I remember that very first year we organized a band, journey to the centre of the earth. We organized a May panorama that year with a May Queen Competition. We travelled to Antigua that very first year to perform at the Caribbean queen show so… in a way we kind of started off with a bang,” he noted.
In addition to hosting the Miss Teen Pageant that observed their 44 year anniversary this year, the Waitukubuli Dance Theatre Company has achieved many accomplishments in their 52 years of existence.
“We’ve done other shows like Teen Talent, miss Dominica Fashion Model years ago, um- and I mentioned carnival bands, performed at all major festivals. I was telling DFC I think we have the record at World Creole Music Festival because I think if my memory serves me right we have performed at every single World Creole Music Festival from the very beginning to now. We’ve travelled to many Caribbean countries to perform and outside of the Caribbean like Canada, we had one or two members as well travel to other places outside of the Caribbean to represent. So it’s been a very exciting journey I would say. I thank God for bringing us to 52 years of existence,” Mr. Lawrence went on to say.
Their commitment to the arts and culture led the Waitukubuli Dance Theatre Company to receive many awards including the Golden Drum Award in 2003, and the E.O Leblanc Trophy for two consecutive before 1985. However Mr. Lawrence described their unique approach to dance as their crowning achievement.
“The essence of the dance company has been a creole identity; that is what Waitukubuli has been about throughout the years. So we use a lot of Dominican music, all kinds of music, the bele, the jingping, the bouyon, cadence you name it. We also do gospel we do other types of music from the region such as soca and all of those and we do some from outside the region like American music and so. But as I said the main focus of our achievements that we have been able to maintain; a sort of national or Dominican identity,” he added.
Mr. Lawrence appealed to Dominicans to continue supporting and investing in arts and culture in Dominica.
“Arts and culture play a very important role in the life and development of any country. You go to any country in the world and everybody is promoting their culture. So it’s important that we invest in arts and culture in the schools, among adults. The groups that exist we need to support them as well because they too have their struggles. And then we need to provide the spaces- I mentioned Arawak we need to provide the performance spaces now because a lot of it is performing arts- where you gonna perform so you need a place to perform where you can have an audience. So we need that kind of support as well. So continued investment I think in arts and culture in Dominica, support by the general public and participation of young people. People of all ages can play a role in keeping alive the culture of Dominica,” the Director added.
Mr. Lawrence is thankful to all partners of the Waitukubuli Dance Theatre Company. The 52nd anniversary dance production will feature this weekend from November 17 to 19 at the Old Mill Cultural Centre.