The Caymankind spirit for which the Cayman Islands is known will soon be on full display as the largest-ever Cayman contingent shares its talents and expertise with its Caribbean neighbours.
More than 50 delegates will travel to Trinidad and Tobago this summer to represent the Cayman Islands at the 14th Caribbean Festival of the Arts (CARIFESTA) where they will showcase the best of Cayman’s arts and culture.
From music, dance and theatre to visual arts, culinary arts and heritage arts, CARIFESTA attendees will be treated to multiple aspects of Cayman’s vibrant culture, and the diversity of talent that exists within Cayman’s arts community.
For two weekends only, the Cayman public will have the opportunity to experience just a taste of what the Cayman group will be taking to Trinidad. The Cayman National Cultural Foundation is hosting four nights of music, dance and theatre at the Harquail Theatre.
The CARIFESTA Showcase fundraiser will take place on Saturday, 20 July, at 8pm and Sunday, 21 July, at 6pm, as well as 27 July at 8pm and 28 July at 6pm.
Saturday and Sunday will feature music from the Local Motion band and dance performances from the combined Cayman dance troupe, which comprises dancers from the University College of the Cayman Islands, Dance Unlimited and Dreamchasers.
Local Motion is the collaborative effort of local musicians representing the cultural diversity that makes the Cayman Islands unique. Along with lead vocalist and president of the Cayman Music Association, Jean-Eric ‘Mr. Notch’ Smith, the band is comprised of some of the Caribbean’s finest and most experienced musicians, some of whom were part of legendary regional bands.
Included in this lineup is Jeff Japal, the keyboard player for the world-famous Tradewinds, and George Jones, keyboard player and founding member of top Barbadian soca band, Square One. Lead female vocalist Vashti Bodden has been a performer on the local scene for several years and is the 2019 Cayman Islands’ reigning Soca Monarch. The other members of the band are Robert Ebanks on drums, Mitchell Ebanks on guitar and vocals, and Roger ‘Bugs’ Wilson on bass.
Dance enthusiasts will be thrilled by the performances which will feature modern contemporary dances, other popular genres showcasing a fusion of British, Indian, African and Caribbean expressions, and a colourful display of Cayman’s folk forms, choreographed by MoniKa Lawrence, respected dancer, choreographer and Assistant Professor and Artistic Director of the Performing Arts at University College of the Cayman Islands.
On the second weekend (27 and 28 July) the compelling drama ‘Downside Up’, written by Frank S. McField and directed and designed by Henry Muttoo, will feature the talents of Jevaughnie Ebanks, Jerrin Carter, Troy Rodgers, Leslie-ann Bernard and Giselle Webb. McField’s dramas often reflect his extensive background in sociology.
The National Cultural Foundation’s Artistic Director, Muttoo is one of the Caribbean’s foremost theatre arts practitioners and is a household name both here and abroad for his award-winning work in the theatre, arts and cultural practices.
‘Downside Up’ examines the fate of a family caught in a cycle of secrecy, domestic abuse and infidelity; family dynamics that are not uncommon but are so often covered up. Audiences are advised to consider parental guidance, as the themes may not be suitable for very young children. It is hoped that the play will spark discussion that will lead to a better understanding of the issues it highlights.
“I hope that the public will come out to the Harquail and support our artists who are working hard to put on professional, dynamic and meaningful performances,” said the Foundation’s Managing Director Marcia Muttoo. “We feel it is important that our community both gives encouragement to, and is able to feel proud of, Cayman’s arts and culture ambassadors to the regional stage.
“CARIFESTA is a significant event and forum for Cayman because it gives us an opportunity to demonstrate to our neighbours and visitors from more distant shores the wealth and uniqueness of Cayman’s arts and culture, and establish a greater international profile in the arts realm.”
Also making the trip to Trinidad are chefs Brittanni Seymour, Timisha Edwards, and Jessica Moore from Women in White; Caymanian filmmaker Badir Awe; UCCI student trumpeter, Cameron Gilson, who will take part in the Caribbean Youth Orchestra; Debra Barnes-Tabora from the Cayman Islands National Museum; heritage crafters Carmen Conolly and Isaac Jeralow Rankine; and storyteller Virginia ‘Auntie V’ Foster. Members of the contingent will be sharing their expertise and giving demonstrations and workshops in their own individual areas of expertise.
Held every two to four years in various islands of the region, CARIFESTA is the largest, most far-reaching and longest running arts and culture festival in the Caribbean. It was created to showcase the artistic richness, creativity and diversity of the region and its diasporas.
It attracts artists and culture professionals from more than 30 countries in the region and has been held 13 times across eight countries. Trinidad and Tobago, the 2019 hosts, have chosen the theme ‘The Tangible and Intangible – Connect, Share, Invest’ for this 14th edition of CARIFESTA, which takes place from 16 to 25 Aug.
The Cayman Islands has been attending CARIFESTA since 1981, and the most recent participation was in 2017 when a group of 38 delegates representing seven disciplines – theatre, dance, fashion design, visual arts, artefacts, literary arts, symposia and music – travelled to Barbados to showcase and celebrate Cayman’s arts and culture.
Tickets for the Cayman Islands’ CARIFESTA Showcase are $25 per person per show and are available at Foster’s (Airport and Strand), Funky Tang’s, Healthcare Pharmacy Grand Harbour, the Cayman National Cultural Foundation office or online at www.eventpro.ky. For more information, call 949‑5477 or email [email protected]