A Carifesta Dance of Shame!

John Hunte

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!

Would you believe, that Dr. John Hunte — the “artistic coordinator” of CARIFESTA –is seemingly proud to be able to announce that the “Signal Dance event” of CARIFESTA  X111  will be a major international dance show at the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium on the 24th of August, and that the event will feature dance groups from Trinidad and Tobago, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, and Haiti, but none from  Barbados!

According to Hunte, this ultra prestigious show is designed “to use modern concepts of Caribbean identity to unfold visions of ourselves and our common legacy”, but the only Barbadians that he deems  fit to include in the show are two female ballet dancers who reside and practice their craft in the European countries of Germany and Hungary.

Now, I have nothing against these two overseas based daughters of the soil– both of whom I know and admire– but somebody needs to tell Hunte , Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, and the rest of the CARIFESTA Secretariat that this is just not good enough.

If the Minister and his Secretariat are truly interested in exploring “modern concepts of Caribbean identity” and “visions of ourselves”, then how can they fail to include at least one of the best Barbadian dance groups that, year after year — at the annual National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) — creatively explore the boundaries of what it means to be Barbadian and Caribbean?

How can they– for example — fail to include such a quintessential and consistently excellent Barbadian and Caribbean dance group like Dancin Africa?

Is Minister Lashley and John Hunte really telling us that a group like Dancin Africa is not fit to grace the major dance stage at CARIFESTA — even though the Festival is being held in Barbados, and is being financed by the Barbadian taxpayers?

I have personally witnessed dance shows all over the Caribbean — from Cuba and Haiti in the North to Guyana and Suriname in the South– and I can affirm that some of the most compelling and impactful dance performances that I have ever witnessed have been delivered right here in Barbados at our annual NIFCA dance finals.

Indeed, the Dancin Africa troupe possesses a brilliant twenty-five year NIFCA gold award winning repertoire that is based upon at least two dozen  profoundly insightful and moving dances crafted by such outstanding Barbadian choreographic talents as Gene Carson, Kelvin Carvalho, Tyrone Trotman, Oral Welshman, and Aisha Comissiong.

Is Dr. Hunte and Minister Lashley really telling us that none of these Barbadian master works are to be showcased to the rest of the world on the biggest and most prestigious CARIFESTA stage?

What a travesty! What a pathetic expression of a national inferiority complex ! What a shame that something like this can still be happening after 50 years of Independence!


  • Has there been an official statement issued by the Minister of Culture or the NCF on this matter? The officials are happy to allow the question being asked to bounced around the four corners of the world and for the receivers of the message to form uninformed conclusions?


  • My coworker is part of PCW. She said that there always had a dance troupe that was slated to perform at Carifesta.


  • Dear Readers,
    May I make a plea for the NCF to hire Elombe Mottley, our greatest living cultural historian, to be hired as a consultant for Carifta?


  • David,

    It is never too late.


  • If you’d like the honest to god truth, and before I am accused of hating my country let me be clear, i love this country with all of my being, but that said, our performing arts are no where on par with JaMaica or Trinidad. We have a love hate relationship with arts and culture. We love it once they are successful but until them we largely ignore our own.

    Jamaica and Trinjdad have full academy’s dedictaed to Dance up to a Bachelor’s Degreee Level with a rich history of indentifying and embracing their own national identity in their dance.

    We have Spooge and Bashment Soca and the latter exists under great protest.

    You want John Hunte to take on local dancers and artistes? Then foster an environment in which they can actually thrive.

    Until then this is just noise for the sake of making noise.


  • @John Smith

    Can we take your comment as the official reason Dr.John Hunte excluded local dancers from the opening act?


  • Pingback: A Carifesta Dance of Shame Explanation | Barbados Underground

  • @ David
    John Smith is correct.
    But the response is not to ignore the problem and keep them out of Carifesta, but to have used the festival to START a serious arts / dance / music school of excellence….

    Did the minister only become aware of the weakness highlighted in Smith’s piece last month…?


  • Quite pathetic!I am not really too surprised by this omission.Carifesta is being held in Barbados but there is no Carifesta Village.This is a shame


  • How could there be no village?
    Where will the SPIRIT of the festival be centralised?
    Surely the Cave Hill Campus or some such venue will serve this role…

    Hope this is not Deja Vu all over again …like last time….


  • Pingback: Carifesta Dance of Shame! — Barbados Underground – Jamaica Peace Council

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