Dance in Barbados
Dancing in Barbados
Dance is such a strong part of any culture, and Barbados is certainly no exception.
It’s a way of self expression, it’s a fine art, an incredible skill, and a sport in its own right. It can also tell the intricate stories of a culture – its past, its present, as well as its future.
Whether it’s African dance, ballet, jazz, tap, free form, ballroom, contemporary dance, you’ll find all genres are available to appreciate and try out in Barbados.
In fact, dance is often a part of a child’s early education in Barbados. Many of the local primary schools on the island have dance as part of the set curriculum, or as a highly recommended after school activity for the students.
You’ll soon discover dancing is very popular in Barbados. So much so, that you would be hard pressed to find a handful of girls (and boys) on the island who have not had some sort of dance instruction and training during their childhood.
The dance schools that these students attend also put on various shows throughout the year, showcasing their talented pupils in lively demonstrations for parents, friends and the general public.
It goes without saying that dance of course is intertwined with music. Popular music in Barbados includes calypso, soca, dancehall and reggae. There are also traditional folk songs with accompanying dances which tell stories of times gone by.
Dancers are often in full force at various local festivals, holidays and other special events, and you’ll see a wide variety of styles on display. These dances and traditional costumes are an iconic part of Barbadian culture and ritual.
The local arts festival, NIFCA, is a very popular venue for the local dancers from all genres to display their talents and perform to large crowds.
Dance is also a big part of the Holder’s festival, Holetown festival, Crop Over festival, Jazz festival, Celtic festival, as well as many others.
You can also step back in time at the Oistins Friday night Fish Fry. Here you’ll see old school ballroom dancing in the open air at its finest. Anyone is welcome to join in, so why not grab a local partner from the audience and give it a try?
And, we can’t talk about dance in Barbados without mentioning the infamous ‘wuk up‘ style of dance, seen all over the island at parties and festivals. Wukking up is a traditional form of Bajan dance which is best described as sensual gyration between a man and a woman. Things can get a little heated – this style isn’t for the faint hearted!
What About Dance Schools On The Island?
There are many dance schools on the island that provide training for all levels of dance – from beginners to professional level dance.
In more recent times, we have also started to see, sprouting up here and there, dance companies that are not geared towards teaching, but more towards professional performances.
The people involved in these companies have generally been internationally trained in dance and many of them have performed on all kinds of stages all over the world.
These companies organize, choreograph, and perform shows for a variety of functions – from corporate events, performing for guests in various hotels and apartments island-wide, to one off stage show performances.
As you can see, dance is an integral part of Barbadian life and custom. We hope you get to try some, if not all, of the traditional Bajan dances and experience one of the key components of local culture on the island.
Author: Brett Callaghan
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Last Updated: October 22nd, 2016
Publisher: Totally Barbados