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A Good Time in Any Language — Even Sign Language

March 14, 2005 – A midday celebration honoring National Modern Foreign Languages Week provided a feast for all the senses at the university's Sports and Fitness Center Monday.
Organized by the ever-energetic Profesora Violeta Donovan and sponsored by the humanities division of the University of the Virgin Islands, the event offered three tiers of tables full of menu choices and drinks from some 25 cultures. A fast-moving program of dance, an instrumental group, a revue-style visit to the Montmartre in France, and more took place on the floor where basketball is more frequently played.
The program began with a very special group that demonstrates communication isn't limited to formal language: deaf and hard-of-hearing children from the Peace Corps Elementary School, along with their director, Denise McGee, performed a "Fanga Dance," a Nigerian dance of welcome. McGee drummed, and the children's sign language interpreter sent signals, but the children gave an astounding performance of synchronized movement.
"How did they do that?" Mistress of ceremonies Lisa Wynne wondered. "We placed a totally deaf child next to a partially hearing child, and alternating them," their leader explained. "They feel the energy from the next body."
Wynne, Miss UVI in 1999 and Miss U.S.V.I. in 2000, returned to do master of ceremonies honors for a second time, and her energy matched that of the dancers. In fact, at one point she not only joined the performing dancers, but she pulled Prof. Vincent Cooper onto the floor with her, and several children from the Peace Corps dance group joined the fun.
A combo of sax, guitar, and trumpet by Spike McKean, Michael Camacho and Michael John entertained next, and again later in the program.
The Caribbean Dance Group performed a spectacular "Untitled" work choreographed by Monty Thompson with music by Hans Zimmer from the "Tears of the Sun" movie sound track. Their bare feet moved more swiftly than any basketball shoes ever traveled across that floor, and the dancers obviously enjoyed their movements.
Prof. Evelyn Lallemand and her French students performed a revue-style "Bienvenue á Montmartre!" showing tourists enjoying the Montmartre area of France – complete with a petite painter in a very paint-covered smock, a blind accordion player whose renditions of traditional French music were an audience hit, and call-and-response singing by French students. The Peace Corps children, now front-row audience members, signed to their interpreter, querying was the accordion player really blind.
The Caribbean Dance Group returned to perform "Latin Fusion," choreographed by Janet Mescue to music by Gloria Estefan. This time their costumes were voluminous soft white dresses which became an integral part of their dance movements.
Donovan declared herself well satisfied with the food, the audience, and all the performers, and the frequently-applauding audience obviously agreed. Don't miss this event next year.

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