Caribbean Dance Traditions

International Youth Arts & Culture Festival (Video)

The 2nd Annual Silver Spring International Youth Arts and Culture Celebration will take place on August 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring. The festival is a musical tribute to the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. The festival is planned by local youth and feature performances by local groups. Bands featured include Pan Lara, Imani Strings, Caribbean Dance Traditions, Ethio-American Eskita Group, Marbed St. Hillaire and the St. Veronicas Youth Steel Orchestra.

Pan Lara is a youth steel ensemble whose primary mission is to share their African Caribbean culture through steel pan music. In 2005, the ensemble was born out of the exposure the kids experienced when they traveled to South Africa to perform for school children in Soweto, an experience that has changed their lives completely. Pan Lara youth are all excellent students in the D.C. Metropolitan Area and range in age from 9 to 18 years old. They arrange their own music from SOCA, Reggae, R&B to Gospel and Classical.

Here is a video of Pan Lara performing on Caribbeana (89.3 FM):

Imani Strings consists of a group of young musicians who are talented in the art of playing various stringed instruments (Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass). This group, led by Rev. Jonathan Jones is dedicated to expressing their faith by way of their talent in response to the exhortation in Psalm 150:4 “Praise the Lord with the stringed instrument!”

Caribbean Dance Traditions (CDT) is led by artistic director and choreographer Althea Grey-McKenzie. CDT is the resident performance group at White House Studio with over 35 years of experience. White House Studios offer extensive performing arts programs and intensives for youth and adults (featuring African and Caribbean dance and drumming, steel pan; Ballet, Modern, Urban, Liturgical, Latin & Ballroom dance, theatre arts, music appreciation and Dance as Wellness).

Ethio-American Eskita Group is the Ethiopian club from Albert Einstein high school in Kensington, MD. They have been putting on annual performances for their school’s international night event for years, but recently they have been performing at other places, including events such as the Takoma Park Festival. They present many different traditional dances from many different regions in Ethiopia in an effort to keep their culture and heritage alive while living in the U.S. With the help and experienced guidance of Thomas Young they have been and will continue to remember Ethiopia through cultural dance.

Born and raised in Diego Martin, Trinidad, Marbed St. Hillaire began singing at the age of five and won numerous calypso competitions at elementary school. She joined The Lydian Singers, a renowned choir led by the late Pat Bishop. She performed in the National Music Festival with the Bishop Anstey High School Choir and placed second in the Junior Solo Category. She is currently a Junior Communications Major at the University of Maryland College Park.

The St. Veronicas Youth Steel Orchestra came together in July, 1999. After three months of practicing they began performing at various venues. This group emerged from the program “Pan in The Community”, and is now the main focus of the organization, “Pan in the Community, Inc.” a 501 (C) (3) non profit organization. This program uses the medium of the steel drums to re-direct the young people of our community into positive social and behavioral ideals.

Community members planning to attend the festival are asked to wear national clothing and colors to the festival.


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