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May 25, 2017

National Festival of the Arts: Belize’s Best Take the Stage

The Children’s Festival of the Arts takes center stage this weekend, as it does each year at this time at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts. But for the opening ceremony, the Ministry of Education and National Institute of Culture and History went to the seaside, to B.T.L. Park, where the excited voices of our youngest from across the country rose to the sky in song and drama, and their bodies moved to the rhythm of dance. It is the foremost platform for expression and Aaron Humes has a primer for what to expect over the next few days.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

Imagine Michael Jackson, Beyoncé; Leonard Cohen and Julie Andrews; even our local politicians. They all had to start somewhere – singing in the shower; a talent show or family band; but they all reached the pinnacle of their professions with lots of hard work and dedication. The youngsters paying tribute to their work on the stage today at B.T.L. Park have similar dreams, and on the stage of the National Festival of the Arts, they have their opportunity.

 

Kim Vasquez

Kim Vasquez, Youth Development Officer, NICH

“It’s nice, yes, to see them on stage and sure, we love to see the children perform and they light up the stage; but more importantly, it’s about expressive arts education. And that you are seeing here today and what you will see throughout the Festival of the Arts is the culmination of the work of the teachers in the classrooms – this is part of the curriculum, the expressive arts training that the students receive – and so this is weeks and weeks of preparation. And it begins at the district level with the district festival of arts – Belize District just recently completed this week their own district-level festival of arts – but this is the national level, and we say that the best of the best or the most outstanding come to the national level. And there are no winners or losers in the Festival, but what we want to do with the National Festival of the Arts is to showcase and create a platform for outstanding youth talent.”

 

The acts taking the stage today come from the disciplines of dance, music and drama – or in the case of “Chimney Magic” from La Inmaculada R.C. School, all three, in what is called an “integrated” act. For the next few days, they and their fellows will be performing at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts. Vasquez says even the teachers will be getting involved.

 

Kim Vasquez

“Tomorrow we have the high school competition at the Bliss Center at six p.m.; on Saturday we have the pre-school showcase, ten a.m. at the Bliss; and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, at ten a.m. every day, we have the primary school showcases. We also have in that week the Teacher’s Festival competition, which is a relatively new event, and we also have a special performance called “Chords and Voices,” where all the ensembles and choirs and youth orchestras that won gold will be performing.”

 

E’Jahmor Lopez

The Festival, established since 1953 in one form or another, is, according to representative of the Ministry of Education E’Jahmor Lopez, the story of our lives, and expression must not only be respected, it must be welcomed.

 

E’Jahmor Lopez, District Education Manager (Cayo), Ministry of Education

“Art is life and life is art; we are all artists, masterfully created by the original artist – our Creator, the Divine Essence. We can keep the arts alive by capturing the presentations using the available technologies that are at our disposal and sharing via WhatsApp, Viber, Instagram, Twitter and even Facebook. We can keep the arts alive by encouraging each other – whether inside the classroom or outside the classroom – and we can constructively critique each other. I urge all of us to be respectful of every person who takes the stage. Be mindful that an artist has to prepare for several hours for a presentation that will only last a few minutes. The positivity we display will motivate and boost the performer to reach that place of perfect tranquillity and balance; we get to nurture instead of stifle. Both the performer and us the spectators benefit from this mental stimulation and the performer improves his or her skills and knowledge.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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