Monday, February 23, 2009

Catching my breath

Well, last week was heritage week, and what a full week it was! I attended a number of events last week, in Carbonear, St. Brides, Branch and St. John's. Heritage Day itself, Monday, I went to Carbonear to check in on their plans for interpreting Carbonear Island National Historic Site. You can see a historic photo of Carbonear Island on the ever-popular Digital Archive Initiative, or visit Shawn Lidster's site to check out his song about Carbonear Island, which he performed at the event.

In spite of bad weather, the Living RICH symposium went ahead in St. Bride's, followed by the Singing Kitchen in Branch. The Singing Kitchen was a great success, with a full community hall, plates piled high with food, a diverse audience of kids, adults and seniors, and an amazing amount of local talent on stage, ranging from singing and accordion playing to recitation and traditional Newfoundland set dancing. The dance performance was particularly memorable, as it was a group of young performers from the community who have been learning the old dances. They performed The Lancers, directed by Lorna Nash English of Branch.

The same day, ethnomusicologist Kristin Harris Walsh and archivist Colleen Quigley talked with CBC's Ramona Deering about the traditions of dance in the province, and the process of safeguarding this part of our intangible cultural heritage. If you missed Radio Noon, you can download the dance heritage podcast.

On Saturday, the Dance Heritage Think Tank was held at the MMaP gallery in St. John's, with a very strong representation from many different sectors of the dance community, including people with interest in traditional Newfoundland and Labrador set dancing and step dancing, Scottish step dancing, English and Scottish Country dance, contemporary and modern dance, dance conservation, flamenco, bellydance, contemplative dance, dance instruction, and social dance. Participants spoke about the burning issues surrounding dance heritage in the province, including a need for proper dance facilities and increased communication between groups, and discussed possible next steps. Organizers are compiling a report, which will be circulated to all those who attended, and copies of the report will be made available through this blog and will be posted on the Heritage Foundation of NL website.

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