“Blended Rhythms” was a program offering Irish dance and West African drum workshops to the local community of Montserrat in 2014. Classes focused on elements of technique and style to encourage student creativity and self-expression, highlighting connections between these artistic traditions and addressing their historical contributions to Montserrat’s connections to African and Irish culture. The Irish and African connections to Montserrat (the “Emerald Isle of the Caribbean“) stretch back centuries and are a part of the island’s complex diaspora culture.
In partnership with Montserrat’s Ministry of Culture and Tourist Board and local musicians and artists, the program raised awareness, especially among the island’s youth, of the importance of dance and music culture as a source of knowledge, meanings, values, and identity. The program also contributed to community building and fosters communication across geographically, culturally, and ethnically diverse boundaries.
Registration was free and open to all community members. Workshops gave students the opportunity to perform in Montserrat’s annual St. Patrick’s Week and African Music Festivals in March 2014. Read more about St. Patrick’s Festival 2014!
Kate Spanos, a graduate student in Performance Studies and an Irish dancer from Washington, DC with over 23 years of dance experience and a Master’s degree in Irish Dance Performance from the University of Limerick in Ireland.
Dominique Mbaye, a professional West African drummer from Gorée Island in Senegal with over 15 years of experience traveling internationally as a performer and instructor.
- Montserrat’s Ministry of Culture
- Montserrat’s Tourist Board
- Rebecca Chalmers, Guildhall School of Music & Drama fellow, musician, and music teacher
- Montserrat’s Department for International Development (DFID) staff associated with the African Music Festival committee
- Jalikunda, West African drum/dance troupe with members from Senegal, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, and other areas of West Africa
- Martin Healy Band from Dublin
- ………and other local musicians, dancers, and artists!
- Blended Rhythms on Twitter
- Blended Rhythms’ Facebook group
- Montserrat Festival on Facebook and Twitter
- Montserrat Tourist Board on Twitter
- Spirit of Montserrat on Facebook
- Awesome Without Borders (a collaboration between the Harnisch Foundation and the Awesome Foundation) granted $1,000 to our “awesome initiative” in order to purchase djembes for the workshops, which we will donate to the youth community of Montserrat after the St. Patrick’s Festival in March. We were honored to join the AWB family as the 55th grantee!