The cultural bond between St. Kitts and Nevis with Bermuda was strengthened when a contingent of masquerade and moko jumbie dancers visited the British Overseas Territory, earlier this month.

The cultural delegation was headed by Dance Specialist in the Department of Culture Lorna Ava Henry, and included a mix group of masquerade from the Home Boys and Williams? troupes. The moko jumbies are a part of the Chagredandies group.

The folklore performers were invited by the Government of Bermuda, to participate in the Gombey Festival. The annual festival was staged in the car park of City Hall in Hamilton and attracted a huge crowd which was appreciative of the energetic cultural performances.

Ms. Henry told SKNIS that the Gombey troupe is the Bermudian term for what is known as the masquerade. In fact, it was members of the Warner family in Sandy Point, who reportedly influenced the creation of the Gombey in Bermuda in the 1920s. There are slight differences in the dance style and the costumes they use but the linkages and similarities between the groups are obvious.

This may have been one of the reasons why the local contingent was so warmly received. The dance and drum routines of the masquerade and the novelty of the moko jumbies were a hit with the locals. The spectators chanted ?Aye Oh? in rhythm to the music while the visiting groups performed at the festival and on the street. Persons generously threw money in appreciation during the street performances ? a tradition lost in St. Kitts and Nevis. The cultural delegation also performed at various clubs and at the Victor Scott Primary School.

Ms. Henry said the visit, which was fully funded by the Bermudan Government, was enriching. She noted that the interaction between the groups was effortless and natural. This was highlighted when members of both groups integrated during several performances. In addition to the performances, members of the contingent were trained by members of the Gombey troupe in the art of making wire mesh into ?gobby faces? as they are known locally.

The dance specialist exchanged gifts with the Bermudian Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs Hon. Wayne Perinchief during the Gombey Festival.

Ms. Henry thanked the Department of Culture in Bermuda, the local Ministry of Finance, LIAT, Cable and Wireless and Louise Tannock for their assistance in facilitating the visit. A similar exchange with the Gombey troupe is being considered and may take place as early as the upcoming 2007-2008 national carnival season.

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