The 2020 edition of the Jamaica Dance Umbrella (JDU), “The Sankofa Effect”, was held from February 27th to March 1st, at the Philip Sherlock Centre, UWI, Jamaica. IFLE partnered with the organizing committee to bring a “French Caribbean flavor” to this year’s festival.
The main goal of the JDU festival is to bring the dance community together and the best of dance in Jamaica on one stage over three nights. “We see ourselves as a regional dance festival“, says Michael Holgate, JDU Festival Director, “and it is very important that the entire region be represented.” Several countries of the region were indeed represented and performed along local dance groups, including Barbados, Suriname and the Cayman Islands.
French Caribbean territories were also represented through the participation of the MounKa Company, a Guadeloupean hip hop dance group, composed of four young dancers and their choreographer, Jose Bertogal. This is the fourth time that french-speaking Caribbean dancers participate in the event, following the performances of Catherine Denecy (Martinique) in 2012, Marie Soulange (Guadeloupe) in 2014 and Akiyodans (Haiti) in 2018.
The festival is a great initiative. It gives a global vision of the state of dance in the Caribbean, which is a very good thing. It is mainly based on young dancers which gives it a very dynamic character. (…) The pieces are diverse, ranging from contemporary to traditional, with some experimentation. Claude Kiavué, Mouka Manager.
MounKa performed their most recent creation, “Biosphère”, which was very well received by the audiences of the festival. Created in 2018, Biosphère is a saga recounting the different stages of earth creation and the evolution of life.
“Throughout their performances there was spontaneous applause and the audience sustained long applause for them at the end of their performances. The beauty and precision of their movements was greatly appreciated and their performances went exceptionally well. People came back to the show on other nights hoping to see them again. Their lighting was also exceptional. It was beautifully done.” Michael Holgate, JDU Festival Director.
Mounka’s participation to the JDU was sponsored by IFLE as part of its Program for the Visual and Performing Arts. This program aims to promote mobility and interactions between creatives of the Caribbean region, by offering training and performances opportunities in the different territories involved and abroad.
Our participation [to the festival] was very positive, through the artistic confrontation that it allowed between the dancers from Barbados, Cayman Islands, Guadeloupe, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. Our contribution was to bring a very different aesthetic compared to the others (through contemporary hip hop), which greatly surprised and seduced the public and participants. Claude Kiavué, Mounka Manager.
“Dance is its own language and therefore bridges the communication gap across this small Caribbean space with multiple spoken languages. Dance translates well across any language. The way the body moves and expresses emotion and ideas and concepts makes it a perfect unifier. We benefit greatly from that at the JDU. That is why we believe it is important to keep sharing French-speaking Caribbean dance troupes at JDU. The culture of that region comes across powerfully in the dance and brings us closer to understanding each other across the language barriers. Dance definitely strengthens the connections between us. Dance builds bridges.” Michael Holgate, JDU Festival Director.
This collaboration was the first of many that will be fostered in 2020 under the IFLE VAPA Program.