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Dance Moves in the Caribbean and St. John Music Share Stage

Feb. 21, 2005 – Zouk. Quadrille. Merengue. Bomba. Konpa. The Caribbean dances. Ah, but — there's the French way, the Haitian way, the Cuban, way, the Trinidadian, Antillean, Anguillan. And no two island cultures dance the moves of a dance the same.
The feet move like so. The hands — this way. Or that way. Or not. The head bobs, or it dips or it remains unmoved. The music jumps up, or it relaxes. The body turns or slithers or jumps. It drums at full speed or it languishes. But all Caribbean peoples agree — the way of the music and the way of the dance on their island is the way.
On March 5 at the St. John School of the Arts, the new Rockefeller resident fellow at the Alton Augustus Adams Music Research Institute will detail — with video — research methodologies for studying and measuring rhythm, movement and synchronization in Caribbean dance. Fellow Rebecca Sager, an independent scholar who has a doctor's degree in ethnomusicology ("Creative Processes of Ritual and Music in Haitian Vodou," 2000) from the University of Texas at Austin and has written and published widely, is just back from five weeks of field trips to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Guadeloupe. Her lecture, "Timely Explorations in Music and Movement: Rhythmic Identity in Caribbean Dance," will demonstrate, among other methods, a complex, computer-assisted measurement of dancers' movements. She will present research results on Haitian Konpa, Dominican merengue, and French Antillean zouk.
The evening begins at 7:30 p.m. at the school, which is next door to the Legislature Building in Cruz Bay. It is free and open to the public.
This lecture is the fourth given in the Virgin Islands, and is part of the fourth Summit of Tradition Bearers, which will feature live interviews with four St. John musicians and performances by Chester "The Mighty Groover" Brady, Koko and the Sunshine Band, and John Sewer, a tradition bearer who was honored at a June 2004 program. Those same performers were featured in the June 2004 St. John program, which enjoyed an enthusiastic overflow crowd. The summit's master of ceremonies will be Gilbert Sprauve, and the interviewed musicians are Louis Jackson, Randolph Thomas, Rudolph "Pimpy" Thomas and Theodora Moorehead.
The St. John School of the Arts and executive director Sis Frank have generously provided use of their facilities. The event is supported in part with funding from the V.I. Humanities Council, the V.I. Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Sager, has held positions at academic institutions in Rome and Istanbul, and has a book in press.
The Adams Institute and its parent institution, the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago have been presenting annual summits since planning began for the institute in the late 1990s and was opened to the public in 2001 in the ancestral home of Alton Augustus Adams Sr. in Charlotte Amalie. The institute facilitates the study and documentation of black music in the Caribbean region, particularly the Virgin Islands. In addition to summits, the institute also presents workshops that demonstrate preservation and documentation techniques to provide research material for the study of V.I. cultural traditions and musicians.
The Institute is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. For information call 715-5680.

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