Janelle Collins-Student, Ken Gordon School of Journalism and Communication Studies
‘Diwali – The Gift of Dance’ directed by Steve James of Guadeloupe explores the cultures of Trinidad and Tobago and Guadeloupe during the “Festival of Lights” celebrations which takes place in Guadeloupe.
This is a very interesting short documentary. It highlights a cultural stereotype that still exists today. How can a man of African descent master Indian Dance – Kata to be more precise? This is definitely an anomaly which smashes the stereotype associated with this East Indian traditional dance.
Kendell Charles is not just an Indian dancer…he is a trained professional dancer who got a scholarship to master the art of “Kata” internationally. This black African Trinidadian is the best there is in the world, his technique is second to none and when he moves you can feel his passion and devotion to his art.
I found myself intrigued by this magnificent Afro Trinidadian dancer who is the best at what he does, in a place where he is not of but at the same time commands effortlessly. He is soft spoken and open; he carries himself confidently and professionally – a demeanour that is humbling and refreshing all at once! I enjoyed listening to him share parts of his journey – how he got into this style of dance, the ups and down, challenges and successes, the effects of his race and skin colour on his training and pursuits.
During the documentary we got the opportunity to see Diwali celebrated outside of the shores of Trinidad and Tobago. The celebration were well attended, thousands came out and like Trinidad the people of Guadeloupe represent a melting pot of every creed and race actively participating in the national festival. It was a sharing and fusion of cultures as the rhythms of Tassa and Gwo Ka come together and fill the air with a feeling that can leave one in awe!
A well spent, exhilarating fifteen minutes!