Culture is a Way of Life

We soaked up some culture last weekend with the recital at Cas Di Cultua of Dance Studio Diana Antonette, on Saturday, and the free Jazz Appreciation Concert in San Nicolas on Sunday.

Diana Antonette has been teaching here for 55 years and she celebrated with her students, delivering a performance of over two hours of pre- and classical ballet, modern, folklore, street dancing, and more.

In the name of elegance and good taste, the studio draws the line at twerking.

The opening piece featured 4 and 5 years olds as flowers, animals, butterflies and birds, they followed instructions twirled and bowed, absolutely amazing that a teacher can elicit such a concentrated group effort from little ones.

Congratulations to the choreograph Diana Antonette, who didn’t lose her marbles in the process, working with tykes whose coordination is iffy at best. It was adorable.

The kids will grow up to be disciplined, creative, social, communicative, confident and graceful young adults if they continue on this path, and if their parents persevere dropping off and picking up, and investing in their children’s formative experiences.

The studio has been active for 55 years, and no repairs have even been made to the roof, the wooden floor boards or the dressing rooms, since. Diane presented a video clip as part of the show in which she shines and polishes the studio floor tirelessly, and falls off her feet exhausted at the end, to express her frustration with the facility’s terrible state of repair, while the rent is being collected in full, religiously.

From my personal point of view, street dancing, reggaeton, hip hop and salsa, were beautifully performed, the dancers are passionate and on fire, the costumes, as expected, fantastic.

For the Pre- and Classic Ballet pieces, few of the dancers have the physic, or the poise, and over-weight is a challenge. It’s tough to emulate in the Caribbean what was drilled at the Bolshoi to elegant, slender, starved elves, light as features, practically weightless. Perhaps we should give up classical ballet in favor of modern dance, a more creative and forgiving art form. My favorite was a nameless modern dance sequence, with dancers in long shirts against interchanging blue/green wall mapping, choreographed by Danouk Jongsma, who got a lot of expression out of her dancers.

Choreographer Pierangeli, Diana’s talented daughter explains Diana offers it all, and while she talks about discipline, restraint, and aiming at movement perfection, innate to ballet, her students don’t always see the value, in following the advice, and all classes are open to all, which is a modern, inclusive view, in contradiction to the elitist and exclusive, old-school view of ballet.

If we give our kids the tool to express themselves via dancer, music, art, we raise people in touch with their creative side who can communicate their thoughts accurately, and reach others without picking up an ax.

I am describing a better world.

On Sunday, the free Jazz Appreciation Concert on the square in San Nicolas was spectacular and very well attended. I am stressing it was free for the public but in reality it cost a high five figures which Carlos Bislip and his crew had to beg for, turning every stone for funds, searching high and low for sponsors, in order to fulfil this humanitarian mission: Offering the gift of music to the public and allowing the youngsters, 11 to 18, from Caribbean Combo to play and train with two accomplished imported female musicians, Ana Nelson and Zoe Murphy.

The spectacular set up and stage, the music, the evening stars, all contributed to a fantastic evening.

Special thanks to Caribbean Combo with Alakina Gonzalez,  Emanuel Gonzalez, Alejandro Gonzalez, Renzo Dijkhuizen, Elijah Wester, Denzil Tromp, and special guests Ana Nelson and Zoe Murphy. The Groove Hunters with Eric Jan Eman, Kyle Winklaar, Pierre Koolman, Lazaro Barrizonte. The  Carlos Bislip Quintet with Ivan Quandus, Jamaal Baptiste, special guests Ana Nelson and Zoe Murphy. Reno Steba and Oruba with Jeremy Bonarriba, Johnny Scharbaay, Hubert Thiel, Serghio Jansen, Jaderick Croes, Papito Rafael and Arthur Kelly, and Franklin Granadillo Band with Ana Nelson, Zoe Murphy, Ivan Quandus, Jamaal Baptiste, Chris Rodulfo, Denzil Tromp and Carlos Bislip.

Thank you sponsors: Walking Turtle Entertainment, M.A. (Michael Alexander), La Cabana Beach Resort & Casino, UNOCA, Kulture Café, A.A.A. Aruba Ports Authority, SETAR, PBCCG (Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Caribisch Gebied), Vibration PR, Departamento di Cultura Aruba, Garage Central Aruba, Amterdam Manor, Tropical Bottling Company and Pepia Est N.V.

If we give our kids the tool to express themselves via dancer, music, art, we raise people in touch with their creative side who can communicate their thoughts accurately, and reach others without picking up a gun.

I am describing a better world.


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May 03, 2023
Rona Coster