The death rattle appears to be sounding from the art forms of limbo dancing and fire eating, as well as tuk music, with fewer than ten people estimated to be practising these forms of entertainment here.
And if the response to a series of workshops organized by Ruk-A-Tuk Inc in association with the Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Development is anything to go by, the last rites are likely being administered, as a combined total of only 13 people have registered for the three disciplines, each of which was anticipated to attract up to 15 people.
However, while Ruk-A-Tuk Inc’s Managing Director Wayne Poonka Willock is concerned about the future of these art forms, he is holding on to hope that those who take advantage of the ten-week workshops will help keep these cultural forms alive.
“Our time will come but we want to be sure that when we go, we leave the ability and the legacy of professionalism in these areas to carry on the institution of cultural arts. The void has to be filled, therefore, even before it becomes apparent. These forms of indigenous entertainment must survive the long haul, therefore, the need for such a workshop,” Willock said at a ceremony at the Ministry of Labour’s office in Warrens, St Michael to officially launch the training sessions.
The cultural icon reminisced on the skills of fire eating experts such as Winston Cassius Clay Yearwood, lamenting that such talents appears to have disappeared.
“Nobody is doing anything like that anymore. It is just going, going, going because everybody on their phone and the iPad. The whole scenario has changed. I can only do my bit to try and get it back somewhere that 15 years from now we still have something to work with,” he said.
Registration is still open this week via email at [email protected] or 418-1035.
The training is being funded by the European Union through the department of Human Resource Development.
Minister of Labour, Social Security and of Human Resource Development Senator Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo said the workshop represented one of the strategic partnerships between Government and the private sector.
Pointing to the contribution of the cultural industry to the Barbados economy, Byer-Suckoo said it grew by an estimated eight per cent in 2013, adding that culture was one of the main reasons people visited the island.
“Indeed it is through our cultural artifacts and festivals that Barbados is known as one of the premier tourism destinations of the world . . . . Our tourism product has become renowned around the world because many have enjoyed cultural presentations and shows with thrilling cultural displays at hotels, at restaurants and nightclubs,” she added.
Meanwhile, Cheryle Grazette, who has over three decades of experience limbo dancing, said it was one of the most sort-after acts in some shows.
“We need that legacy to go on,” said Grazette, who often works on the hotel scene and has travelled as far as Spain and China to perform.
“Limbo must go forward. Both men and women are needed and we prefer to start from age 16 and up where you are fit and take the grind,” she said.