Gold and silver award winners in this year’s NIFCA Performing Arts Finals, along with veteran class acts, graced the stage at the Wildey Gymnasium on Sunday night for one grand cultural explosion.
The 18 performances which included dance, singing, spoken word and drama showcased why NIFCA can boost “a tradition of excellence” in its 45th year of existence. In every category, it was a case of the past NIFCA awardees meeting the present.
For instance, ace spoken word poet Adrian Green teamed up with the legendary Winston Farrell. It was as entertaining as it was nostalgic. Green remains one of the best deliverers of speech on a NIFCA stage. His Hard Work was fully loaded. It was a mixture of witty words that rhyme, and metaphors and alliterations that carry deep meaning. He received numerous rounds of applause throughout the lengthy piece.
It was sentimental to see an energetic, grey-haired Farrell in fine form on stage doing one of my childhood favourites, the popular Bus Man. The rhythm poet invited the crowd to join him in reciting it and they willingly obliged. It was their delight to chant: “Driving dem bus man in dem street man; backing down in dem corners; wheeling round dem bends, sailing through dem cars and thing; hear de engine singing de bus man must be fun man…”
The two past NIFCA winners were the opening acts and did an excellent job setting the tone for things to come.
Then later in that same vein, you would hear the offerings of this year’s silver awardee Buff Poet in Pothole Politics. The 23-year-old spoken word performer was hard hitting with his political piece. He reiterated that unlike patching potholes some of these social ills just “don’t get fixed”.
There was the talented duo of Yolanda Holder and Jennifer Walker with the Jeannette Layne-Clarke penned piece – At The Bus Stop. Like Bus Man, this piece has been around for a while. In true Bajan form, the two “gossiped” about everything and everyone while waiting for the bus which never came.
The characters Mabel and Lottie talked about who was in the Intensive Care Unit, who was sentenced to Glendairy Prison, who travelled to London, who got small and was “withering away”, who was cheating and who was now in church. They had nothing good to say about anyone.
The last victim of their malicious gossip and slander was the same man who pulled over, in his “Datsun” car, to offer them a ride to town. And, again, in true Bajan form there was nothing but praise and good comments for the man while speaking to him face to face. It was hilarious.
Then later, in like drama form, NIFCA silver awardee Janine White did She Still Sweet. Standing in her garden, she spoke about the journey of our beloved country Barbados and the fact that although she has been through a lot, politically, socially and economically, she was “still sweet”.
For more comedy, Dancin’ Africa Juniors performed Once Upon A Time. It was about different types of stationery coming together for the common good and provided some laughs. The pencils, pens, sharpeners, erasers, white-out, scissors and crazy glue were forced to unify for their own survival. The choice was between “de bin or de bag”. They copped gold for their fantasy piece.
In music, sweet singing Ishiaka McNeil delivered a riveting session of spouge in a tribute to Jackie Opel during a medley which included mega hits such as Cry Me A River and Tears From My Eyes (No Good). In a show of true patriotism, the former NIFCA awardee was clad in black pants, blue jacket and yellow bow tie.
Present day music was ably represented by Coleridge & Parry with their arrangement and rendition of Mille Gone to Brazil while gold award winners Blackman & Gollop Primary did an entertaining delivery of their original song Bite By A Centipede. The latter, led by Cassandra Greenidge, also received the Jackie Opel Award.
The sounds of the drums could be heard throughout the walls of the gym when silver awardees Israel Lovell Foundation did their Connections. Likewise, the sounds of brass were prominent when 1688 Collective performed Carnival Play. Both were pleasing to the ear.
But it was the voice of Tavon Boyce that was most captivating. The gold awardee and winner of the James Millington Award did a cover of Michael Jackson’s Ben that he entitled Music And Me. He received screams and cheers as well as a standing ovation for it.
Cherece Richards was also dynamic in her original piece Here Right Now which landed her a silver award.
The dominant Pinelands Creative Workshop, which did not enter this year’s NIFCA, executed a dance piece called Bele. The group has entered NIFCA for 40 of its 45 years and has won 70 medals in that time. And their colourful, energetic and entertaining display showed exactly why they are among the crème de la crème.
Their dance was met by present day award winners such as Jamal Dawe (Timescape) who won gold; Praise Dance Academy of Dance (Glory in the Heavens) which copped silver and Mudiwa Dance Ensemble (Black Woman Rising) which took away silver. All of the dances were well executed and choreographed. Guest performers, the Tyrone Trotman Dancers, did a tribute to him called Afr-Rhythm Caribe.
But it was the closing act and gold awardees Multifarious Dance Crew with their Do Um Fu De Kulture that stole the show via dance. Theirs was highly entertaining and hilarious. The energetic group used a mixture of folk songs, soca, kaiso, spouge, and R&B through dance to capture Bajan culture.
The contrast of past and present NIFCA talent made for an absolutely entertaining evening of over three hours of local talent. (IMC)