Happenings (May/June 2010)

A round-up of current events on the Caribbean calendar

  • Jamaican model Sedene Blake on the catwalk in an outfit designed by Bajan Cassandra Mottley for her fashion label, Shelniel. Photograph courtesy Pulse Investments Ltd/Giovanni Powell
  • Jamaican dub poet Mutabaruka, left, and Colin Channer, one of the festival`s founders. Photograph courtesy Calabash International Literary Trust
  • Leon Rose, performing at Salsa Fiesta 2009 in Trinidad. Photograph courtesy Helen Shair-Singh
  • Jamaican Tyrone Thompson, better known as Papa San, is one of the headline acts at Barbados Gospelfest. Photograph courtesy Gospelfest (Barbados) Inc

Caribbean Fashion Week: a decade of design

Mirissa De Four

As it celebrates its tenth edition, perhaps Jamaica’s Caribbean Fashion Week (CFW) hasn’t quite earned the right to be mentioned in the same breath as New York, London, Milan and Paris. But if it’s not on the same scale as the traditional “big four” fashion weeks, CFW takes almost as much work!

It took two years of planning before CFW could be launched, back in 2001, by Kingsley Cooper of Pulse Investments Ltd. Romae Gordon, Pulse’s fashion director and general manager, explained that the process includes “enabling early designer registration, booking celebrities, updating the website, booking the venues, contracting technical engineers for sound, lights and set design, securing sponsorship, booking the models, addressing air [travel], hotels and tours for travellers to the event, launching the PR campaign…and the list could go on.”

So work for the next year’s fashion week begins “when the runways are dismantled and the flashbulbs stop at last year’s shows”.

In the past, CFW has played host to such designers as British-Jamaican Gavin Douglas, Ghana’s Nana Boateng, New York-based Courtney Washington, Romanian Catalin Botezatu, and from Trinidad & Tobago, Meiling, Claudia Pegus and Robert Young, with others hailing from Australia, Barbados, Guadeloupe, Germany, France, and, of course, Jamaica.

And let’s not forget the models: Jaunel McKenzie, Nadine Willis, Kimanee Wilson, Jeneil Williams, and Oraine Barrett, just to name a few – many of them discovered by the Pulse Model Agency through its television show Caribbean Model Search.

CFW isn’t just about the clothes, though. Cooper recognised that while Caribbean designers are creative forces to be reckoned with, many of them don’t have the business savvy to make their designs household names. With that in mind, CFW’s schedule of events includes a business forum, as well as buyers/designers’ matchmaking meetings.

This year, as always, a wide range of designers from the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and North America are expected to present their collections at CFW. Gordon said there had been a record number of early registrations, with major labels expected to appear.

“Our tenth anniversary represents the best of the [past ten] years and the best of the new.”

In addition, for the next three years, CFW is extending the event to include a benefit night for its latest venture, the Haiti Art and Fashion Project. In light of the devastating earthquake that rocked the country in January, the project is designed to “support the rehabilitation and further development of Haiti’s creative arts, fashion and business over a five-year period”.

The tenth annual Caribbean Fashion Week runs from June 8 – 14 at the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston, Jamaica.

For more information call (876) 968-1089 or e-mail info@pulsecaribbean.com



Island Hopper


International Reggae and World Music Awards
May 2
Where: York College Performing Arts Centre, New York
What: A celebration of Caribbean musicians, songwriters and singers
For more info: www.irawma.com

British Virgin Islands Music Festival
When: May 20 – 30
Where: Cane Garden Bay
What: Festival featuring music from around the Caribbean
For more info: www.bvimusicfestival.com
Barbados Gospel Fest
When: May 22 – 30
Where: Farley Hill National Parks
What: A celebration of gospel, with Jamaica’s Papa San as the headliner
For more info: www.barbadosgospelfest.com

Tobago Underwater Carnival
When: June 11 – 18
Where: Northern and southern coasts
What: A week-long dive festival
For more info: www.tobagounderwatercarnival.com

Ochos Rios International Jazz Festival
When: June 13 – 20
Where: Ocho Rios, Jamaica
What: Annual jazz event, dedicated in 2010 to the late Sonny Bradshaw, one of the founding members
For more info: www.ochoriosjazz.com

Flowers Sea Swim Festival
When: June 19
Where: Cayman Islands
What: Swimming races along the Seven Mile Beach
For more info: www.flowersseaswim.com



St Lucia: not just jazz


St Lucia Jazz is considered the premier jazz festival of the Caribbean, but you don’t have to like jazz to enjoy it. Nor do you have to stay in one place – as it’s held at several venues, visitors can not only pick and choose which artistes they want to see, but can also get a real feel for the island.

The festival, say its organisers, “encompasses multiple shows of acoustical/straight ahead jazz, new age jazz, fusion, rhythm and blues, with acts emanating from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe”.

This year’s edition, from May 1 – 9, will be no different. The main festival stars a diverse group of performers: Grammy Award-winner Corinne Bailey Rae, American jazz guitarist Earl Klugh, French jazz composer Jean-Luc Ponty, Toni Braxton, Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club, Steel Pulse, Maxi Priest and Shaggy, Foreigner, Carl Gustave, Quito, and the Edge.

The lineup also includes “Men of Soul”: Jeffrey Osborne, Freddie Jackson, Howard Hewett and Phil Perry.

And that’s not all – the festival also offers numerous free supporting events. Among them: Jazz on the Square at Derek Walcott Square in Castries, Jazz on the Pier at the Pointe Seraphine duty-free shopping complex, Teatime Jazz at La Place Carenage, and Fond D’Or Jazz at Fond D’Or Heritage Park, as well as jazz at Rudy John and Reduit beaches.

For more information: www.stluciajazz.org



Food for thought at Calabash

Mirissa De Four

At the Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica, writers have always had so much things to say, in the words of Bob Marley. So that’s now the title of an anthology being published to mark the festival’s tenth anniversary.

This year, Calabash runs from May 28 – 30. As always, this literary smorgasbord is free to the public and will be held at Jake’s at Treasure Beach, Jamaica. There participants can hear an international lineup of poets and writers. Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, former US poet laureate Billy Collins, and American writer Russell Banks will be there, alongside writers from Cuba, Jamaica and Britain.

The festival was started in 2001 by novelist Colin Channer, poet Kwame Dawes and producer Justine Henzell. In a phone interview, Henzell said since there was no annual literary festival in the Caribbean, they wanted to give Jamaicans a place to see and be inspired by literature from all over the world, to give them an opportunity to tell their own stories in their own voices, and to hear great writing.

So Much Things to Say is a collection of poems from the works of over 100 poets who have read at Calabash over the years. All proceeds from the sales of the book will go to the Calabash International Literary Trust, the non-profit organisation that produces the festival.

For more information: www.calabashfestival.org



T&T gets a second taste of salsa

Helen Shair-Singh

After a very successful first-time staging last year, Trinidad’s Salsa Fiesta is coming back in 2010, with some big names from Latin and ballroom dance. On July 3 and 4, Trinidad will once again host a weekend of workshops led by dance powerhouses Super Mario and Susana Montero, Leon Rose and Noemie Millon, and Marchant Birch and Davina.  Last year’s workshops were led by Rose and Montero, and dancers on all levels came from Grenada, St Lucia and Barbados to participate.

Super Mario has been a household name on the international salsa scene for many years. He was born in India, but moved to the UK as a teenager, and now travels nearly every weekend to one of the 50 countries where he teaches.

Montero, born in Madrid, was one of the featured instructors last year. With an exuberant and vivacious personality, and a dance style that combines technical perfection with unabashed fun, Montero is like a small force of nature on the dance floor. She has won two British Salsa Championships and is the founder and leader of the UK Latin Dance Academy.

Rose and Millon are partners in dance and life. Rose is London-based, but of Trinidadian heritage, and Millon is a graceful but powerful force on the dance floor. Rose’s achievements include winning the 2000 British Salsa championship with then-partner Susana Montero, and he now spends most of his year performing and instructing at salsa congresses.

Marchant Birch was born in South Africa and won many competitions in ballroom and street dance during the 1980s. He also won the national Cape Jazz (a partner dance similar to salsa) Championship in South Africa in 1999.  ?

He won the Best British Newcomer Award at the British Congress in 2003, Best UK Dance Act at the UK International Salsa Congress 2006, and a special award for his contribution to salsa and raising the standard of teaching by the UK International Salsa Congress 2007.

Marchant has taken Puerto Rican, New Yorican, Dominican, and Cuban style, and blended it with ballroom technique, jazz and Afro movement, developing a smooth, elegant style of salsa and mambo now known as the “Alchemy Way”.

Known only by her first name, Davina is Marchant’s performance and teaching partner, after gathering years of dancing and teaching experience and achievements on her own. She is described as having a smooth, sophisticated and sexy style, and is known for teaching “following” techniques for ladies. Together they formed the Hampshire-based Alchemy Dance Company in 2005.

For more information and tickets: visit www.salsafiestatnt.com or Salsa Fiesta TnT on Facebook, or e-mail: salsafiestatnt@gmail.com

Funding provided by the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme Direct Support Grants Programme.
The views expressed on this website are those of the the authors and do not reflect those of the Direct Support Grants Programme.