Every Trini has experienced a lime on the pavement or at least witnessed one. Everyone who passed through the Mayaro junction on Saturday 13th July, were inevitably a part of the first annual Pavement Festival in Mayaro.
The Mayaro-Guayaguayare Folk Collaborators joined forces with the Best Village Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Malick Folk Performing Company and Five Rivers Community Council Cultural Caravan to present live performances by calypsonians, dancers, drummers, a local steel band on the pavement and a workshop on the Performing Arts. This venture sought to capture the interests of young minds and keep the culture alive.
The activities began as early as 7:00a.m. on Saturday with a group of teenage boys and girls on the African drums. Many industry workers en-route to Galeota Point could not resist the rhythm and passion of the children. Men clad in overalls abandoned their wait for taxis to play their hands on the drums. Young and old bonded as if united by the unspoken language of the drums.
The local steel band, Panhandle Steel Orchestra, played a medley of popular songs for both young and old. Spectators marveled at the tender ages of some of the band members playing the wide-variety of tunes.
A troupe of young enthusiasts of the Mayaro Folk Performers showcased their own choreography in African dance, the traditional sailor dance was conducted by the Performing Arts Cultural and Empowerment (P.A.C.E.) Foundation and the dancers from Five Rivers displayed a fusion between Latin and Bélé dancing. Onlookers were also encouraged to practice the movements during the routines.
Strong messages were delivered by spoken word artist Zakiya Gill who hails from Guayaguayare, as well as calypsonian Nerukhi Ato Osei, in his song ‘Put Your Phone on Silent’ and 2019 Calypso Queen Finalist, Meguella Simon, with ‘Wakanda Forever’. Entertainment was also provided by vocal artiste Impulse and members of the various groups.
In addition to the Performing Arts, there was a Craft Market with many young entrepreneurs exhibiting their handiwork, homemade soaps and candles and a variety of plants. Roast fish prepared on the spot by Clevon ‘Ducky’ Sampson of Ortoire Village, was undeniably the most requested food on the day as patrons continuously questioned “What time Ducky coming?”
The Pavement Festival required more than the single-handed effort of the Mayaro-Guayaguayare Folk Collaborators and its success can also be attributed to several persons from the business community as well as villagers who invested their time, efforts, skills and finances to see the Pavement Festival brought to life.
The following day, a complementary workshop was held at the Mayaro Resource Centre. The training was planned to provide children and interested persons with the fundamentals of folk dance and drumming while exploring modern influences.
The folk-dance session was facilitated by former Bélé queen, Angela Phillip, who is fondly called ‘Aunty Bunny’ in the Mayaro community. She brought all the dresses and matching pieces from her world trips in the 1990’s and demonstrated the stages of the traditional dress, from the first layer to the intricate tying of head pieces while simultaneously comparing modern designs and styles. She further clarified misconceptions and the misuse of songs and corresponding movements with regard to dancing the Bélé.
The ballroom dancing segment of the workshop was directed by Lyndon Maynard who is the Chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Best Village Association as well as a prolific ballroom dancer and his dance partner Michelle Lewis. Salsa, a Latin dance, was used as a tool to teach the young male participants lessons on chivalry, leadership, politeness and acceptance of rejection. Subsequently, the girls were exposed to methods on kindly declining a dance request and demanding while dancing with their male partner. The children were able to perform the salsa dance at the end of the period with added laughter and poise.
The lessons on drumming were conducted by Teddy Quammie. The children who participated in this segment of the art form were tremendously appreciative of the training they received asked girls and boys alike anxiously asked Mr. Teddy “When will be the next training?” The Collaborators are determined to bring into the community courses for these young people on methods of drum making as well as how to do repairs.
The event was deemed a success according to Tesila Manoe, board member of the Mayaro/Guayaguayare Folk Collaborators. She explained that the organizational structure of the Collaborators included both artistic and non-artistic leaders from several organizations including but not limited to the Mayaro Folk Performers, Dame Douees and the P.A.C.E. Foundation. Collaboratively, they serve the community via tremendous networking and relations with stakeholders.
The first annual Pavement Festival in Mayaro commemorated the life and cultural contributions of the late Jimmy Edwards, a true man of culture. The loss of the cultural stalwart one year ago rocked the community of Mayaro and more so its cultural sector. The Collaborators have vowed to always keep his vision and mission alive through their efforts.
Furthermore, another goal of the membership is to be victorious in cultural competitions. In 1967, Mayaro won the Best Musical category and in 1993, coveted the Best Village Trophy. Now in 2019, a dying culture has been revitalized in small footsteps on the pavement in Mayaro.
The Collaborators, with plans to expand and improve at next year’s Pavement Festival, have one message to send to you, “You’re invited.”