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HomeNewsArchivesDance Reflects Cultural Mix of V.I.-Puerto Rico Friendship Day

Dance Reflects Cultural Mix of V.I.-Puerto Rico Friendship Day

Caribbean Ritual Dancers perform Sunday.An overwhelming sense of unity resounded despite technical mishaps and a rather casual atmosphere at Charlotte Amalie High School Sunday evening as half a dozen dance groups performed at the "Cultural Exchange Jamboree: A Folkloric Dance Festival." The recital was organized by the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friendship Day Committee to celebrate 47 years of friendly relations between Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Friendship Day Committee annually hosts an event to honor relations between the U.S. territories. This year, about 200 spectators celebrated cultural differences and similarities through dance. There were performances by the Charlotte Amalie Afro-Antillean Dancers, the St. Thomas Heritage Dancers, the Dominica Association Incorporated, the Mungo Niles Cultural Dancers, the Caribbean Ritual Dancers, Salsa on 1, and the Guateque Ballet Folklorico de Puerto Rico.

A majority of the funding for the Friendship Day celebration comes from sponsors in the V.I. and Puerto Rico. This is the first year that the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture has assisted a Puerto Rican group in travel expenses to the event.

“It’s a blessing, this friendship,” said audience member Audrey Phillip.

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While enthusiastic, organizers seemed confused and flustered by sound delays, wrong music, and even a minor curtain malfunction. Audience members chatted casually and ignored ringing cell phones as dancers attempted to concentrate amongst the babble.

One dancer even opted to leave his keys and phone clipped to his pants during his performance. Fortunately, the steady jingle of his keys aided in drowning out the chatter among spectators.

Amid their conversations and excitement, audience members whistled and hollered words of encouragement at the dancers, laughing and applauding throughout. Dancers and spectators came to resemble more of a family as they became accustomed to the musical mishaps and learned to pump the volume up over the voices of the crowd.

The performances were a mesh of tulle and floral dresses, bright colors and powerful music, daring partners and passionate dancers — a true celebration of two prominent Caribbean groups. Women twirled and laughed as men shook their hips to the beat. Drums, guitars, and even an accordion found their way into the show.

Dancers gathered influence from European, Creole, Crucian, South American, and African cultures, creating a collection of harmony and fun.

Orlando Gonzales, dancer for the Guateque Ballet Folklorico de Puerto Rico, said, “[The dancers] draw on and represent all cultures. We are proud of our influences.”

Chairperson of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friendship Day Committee Carmen Dennis delivered the welcome message in Spanish and English, both of which continued through the program. Friends whispered translations while others gathered the message through the speaker’s emotions.

Dennis noted, “[the committee] chose dance because it is a way to know and trace history, culture, and the values of the people.”

Gladys A. Abraham Elementary School Dancers were not present, despite being listed as the opening performance. According to Dennis, circumstances were out of their control because a teacher was sick.

V.I. and Puerto Rico Friendship Day began in 1964 when Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky deemed Columbus Day to be Friendship Day, honoring the progressive contributions made by Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands. The committee has organized festivals, discussions, art shows, and other musical performances.

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Caribbean Ritual Dancers perform Sunday.An overwhelming sense of unity resounded despite technical mishaps and a rather casual atmosphere at Charlotte Amalie High School Sunday evening as half a dozen dance groups performed at the "Cultural Exchange Jamboree: A Folkloric Dance Festival." The recital was organized by the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friendship Day Committee to celebrate 47 years of friendly relations between Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Friendship Day Committee annually hosts an event to honor relations between the U.S. territories. This year, about 200 spectators celebrated cultural differences and similarities through dance. There were performances by the Charlotte Amalie Afro-Antillean Dancers, the St. Thomas Heritage Dancers, the Dominica Association Incorporated, the Mungo Niles Cultural Dancers, the Caribbean Ritual Dancers, Salsa on 1, and the Guateque Ballet Folklorico de Puerto Rico.

A majority of the funding for the Friendship Day celebration comes from sponsors in the V.I. and Puerto Rico. This is the first year that the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture has assisted a Puerto Rican group in travel expenses to the event.

“It’s a blessing, this friendship,” said audience member Audrey Phillip.

While enthusiastic, organizers seemed confused and flustered by sound delays, wrong music, and even a minor curtain malfunction. Audience members chatted casually and ignored ringing cell phones as dancers attempted to concentrate amongst the babble.

One dancer even opted to leave his keys and phone clipped to his pants during his performance. Fortunately, the steady jingle of his keys aided in drowning out the chatter among spectators.

Amid their conversations and excitement, audience members whistled and hollered words of encouragement at the dancers, laughing and applauding throughout. Dancers and spectators came to resemble more of a family as they became accustomed to the musical mishaps and learned to pump the volume up over the voices of the crowd.

The performances were a mesh of tulle and floral dresses, bright colors and powerful music, daring partners and passionate dancers -- a true celebration of two prominent Caribbean groups. Women twirled and laughed as men shook their hips to the beat. Drums, guitars, and even an accordion found their way into the show.

Dancers gathered influence from European, Creole, Crucian, South American, and African cultures, creating a collection of harmony and fun.

Orlando Gonzales, dancer for the Guateque Ballet Folklorico de Puerto Rico, said, “[The dancers] draw on and represent all cultures. We are proud of our influences.”

Chairperson of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friendship Day Committee Carmen Dennis delivered the welcome message in Spanish and English, both of which continued through the program. Friends whispered translations while others gathered the message through the speaker’s emotions.

Dennis noted, “[the committee] chose dance because it is a way to know and trace history, culture, and the values of the people.”

Gladys A. Abraham Elementary School Dancers were not present, despite being listed as the opening performance. According to Dennis, circumstances were out of their control because a teacher was sick.

V.I. and Puerto Rico Friendship Day began in 1964 when Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky deemed Columbus Day to be Friendship Day, honoring the progressive contributions made by Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands. The committee has organized festivals, discussions, art shows, and other musical performances.