Topic: Extreme Dominica
Pou Yo Dance
I had learned of Michele Henderson’s music before I arrived, but hearing her on a Christmas special aired on local cable turned me on to her sweet undertones. Like Celine Dion, she is singing in two languages, and the local patois finds her way into her titles and lyrics. Like the great diva, she implicates her family in her work and dedications, easy to do on an island where everyone is somehow linked if not related. She captures the rhythmic sway of the people here, the unworried, unhurried pace.
There are enough walks in Dominica to animate an actor’s cast of characters. The swinging gait of the lovers, the sashay of women shopping, the professional clip of women in heels, the purposeful stride of entrepreneurs, the balancing act of those toting homegoods on their heads, the scamper of kids, the propelled walk of students hurrying home—they are all rehearsing their dance of life.
The quietude of those who barely move is here, too—the infirm and elderly gingerly treading the streets, the lovers eyeing each other contemplating embrace, the refugee Haitians avoiding peril of their troubled nation, the dealers waiting, the babies sleeping cradled in loving arms, those tickled by life, those entranced by the moon or each other.
The difference in Dominica is that it all takes place in the street. The most tender moments are public because many of the people live outside their houses.The stoopside ghetto cacophony, the village plaza conversations, the huddle of bodies is on display.
Partying all night long is not unusual; we spy clusters of friends on balconies as we drive through town. Intimacy is dictated by size of the place; love seems to move freely in the easy smiles and exchanges among the people. Village transport spots post signs warning of HIV and drug abuse; the devotion to religion frowns on promiscuity, homosexuality, and drugs. The real has yet to be revealed, so romantic interpretation permeates our watercolor view like a Gauguin rendering.
I know we will regain our strut, the walk of those who are not ‘cruise ship tourists’, reclaiming our position in the local street. Despite any meeting results, beyond any program, nature rules, calling to the elemental dawning, flooding each of us in new steps.