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Jun 3, 2014

The opening of the National Festival of Arts 2014

The National Festival of Arts opened this morning with a bang at Bird’s Isle with the participation of schools from across the country. The presentations were varied including cultural performances such as the John Canoe and marimba complimented by displays of visual arts. The annual event continues through the rest of the week, and will wrap up on Friday with an open mic concert. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The hollow pings of the marimba are contrasting rhythms which resonate loudly across the Bird’s Isle this morning where primary school students from across the country gather for a cultural jamboree.  They are being entertained by a host of performers, as well as the Benque Marimba Academy.

 

Kim Vasquez

Kim Vasquez, Program Coordinator, ICA

“This is the opening of the National Festival of Arts.  We have representation from across the country; we have delegations from each district here.  They’ve all brought either a performance piece to share with other students or they brought a display that is representative of their culture.  It’s just to have fun and just for them to run free and enjoy themselves in the expressive arts today.”

 

…and while there is music and dance aplenty, today’s showcase also serves as a platform for the visual arts.  Present are several freehand illustrators adept at sketching portraits including baby pictures.

 

Kim Vasquez

“It’s been really high energy and this is the idea behind the jamboree.  We have older youths here that are performing for children.  We have children experiencing cultures maybe that they’ve not seen before or that they are not used to seeing and they can come and try.  It’s not that they just get to sit back and watch a performance but they can actually jump in and try it.”

 

On the floor shortly before midday, was a wanaragua or John Canoe performance.  Young drummers from Dangriga, backed up by a choir of preteens, dressed in traditional Garifuna garb, played several songs before an audience that was captivated with the staccato movement of the dancer.

 

Kim Vasquez

“And we have, of course, our good friend Ozzy the Clown here.  He is the ringleader of the festivities and this will go on until three o’clock and throughout the course of the day we will have visiting primary schools from the Belize District as well. As the week unfolds we will be having performance art showcases everyday at the Bliss Center starting at ten [a.m.]  We welcome all primary schools, the public is invited to come in and see the performances.  Everyday will be a different set of districts.  On Thursday, we’ll have the high school competition at the Bliss at seven p.m.  We have eight teams participating contestants in different areas of the arts, they will be competing for cash prizes and prizes for their schools.  On Friday, we have a collaboration with NICH and the YMCA at their compound on Faber’s Road.  So we will be having a concert featuring a lineup of our leading Belizean artists and before that concert kicks off we have an open mic, we have an amateur youth showcase leading up to that.”

 

The launch of the 2014 festival also saw several young musicians being honored for their contribution to the performing arts.  There were also various traditional Maya handicraft and utensils on display. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

 

For the first time the opening event was held at Bird’s Isle, but as of Wednesday, the festival moves to its home at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts.

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