After many years of revelling, I decided to focus on something different in Dominica’s Carnival 2014. It was time to take a closer look at the young people, as they do make vital and dynamic contributions to Mas Domnik festivities. I was amazed to witness their earnest and dedicated approach to numerous activities, which they presented at a very high standard to enthusiastic audiences and spectators. I didn’t realize that so many students take Carnival events as seriously as the older crowd! Their keen participation certainly bodes well for the future of Carnival on the Nature Island, which is a significant part of Dominica’s cultural heritage.
I attended the Junior Calypso Monarch competition for the first time and I was truly amazed by the calibre of the participants. While the passionate and energetic ‘Irish Kid’ (Lemar Irish) was crowned as Monarch, I was more impressed with the first runner-up, Janae Jackson. Her clear diction and melodious phrases enabled her to easily relay her strong and loyal sentiments about her secondary school, Convent High. Not surprisingly, she is a previous winner of this competition. This year, she was crowned ‘Calypso Queen’ at one of the ‘tents’ which showcase calypsonians during the Carnival season. Overall, I think the future of calypso is very strong due to the highly creative performances of these talented young people. I wish them well!
Here are a few photos taken at the Junior Calypso Show 2014. Unfortunately, I was not in near to the stage and lighting was not suitable to capture shots well on my simple camera. A good round-up of pictures and reviews can be found on Dominica Vibes.
My next event was another first for me in the Carnival season. On Sunday February 23rd, I hastened to the Windsor Park Sports Stadium around 5 p.m. for the Miss Teen Dominica show. I was eager to see what young ladies from high schools around the island would offer up in terms of speeches, talents, impromptu interviews, evening wear and traditional costumes. I had previously attended many Miss Dominica pageants and had a good idea of what to expect from the slightly younger girls. When I seated myself in the bleachers, I looked to the left and lo and behold – all the Miss Dominica 2014 contestants, along with Miss Dominica 2013, Leslassa Armour-Shillingford were present to give full support to their younger ‘sisters’!
Once again, I was suitably impressed with the high standards of presentation from the teenagers. But I would be remiss if I did not mention that this annual Carnival event is organized by the renowned Waitukubuli Dance Theatre Company, under the directorship of Mr. Raymond Lawrence. This recently retired long-time Chief Cultural Officer certainly knows how to put on a production. He ensured that it ran very smoothly, despite a few minor technical glitches. His rich and resonant speaking voice added to the pleasure of the commentary about the colourful presentations by the students.
After all was said and done at this well-organized show, I felt satisfied with the judges’ choice of Miss Shari Peter from St. John’s Academy in Portsmouth as the winner. She has a certain ‘sparkle’ and I sense that she has ‘got what it takes’ to act in the capacity as a youth ambassador on island and elsewhere. I wish her all the best, and congratulate the other contestants for their fine performances too.
You can see more wonderful photos and a great review on Dominica Vibes.
A few days later, it was Carnival Monday, which featured an Old Mas and School/Youth Parade about mid-morning. I arrived on King George V Street in Roseau and placed myself in the shade, as it was a very hot day. The phenomenal creative contributions of the students, teachers and parents provided hundreds of spectators with sheer delight and a great appreciation for what Mas Domnik is all about. Tears stung my eyes as I proudly admired the parade participants and their enthusiasm as they chipped ( rhythmically shuffled ) to the beat of the big hi-fi trucks in the sweltering heat. It struck me that these young people were genuinely celebrating the spirit of Carnival in its purest form: no external or internal stimulants needed! I highly commend all the participants and their schools for putting forth such an exceptional collective effort that gave so many people joy. Thank you for a wonderful Carnival parade. I hope you will do it all again next year!