On the tiny island of Montserrat in the West Indies there’s a population with a unique connection to Ireland. This “Emerald Isle of the Caribbean” celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in a big way with jams from Irish bands and West African performers. And things heat up fast with the rousing and spicy Irish reels alongside African rhythms!
Last year’s West African troupe had festival crowds dancing ecstatically; the drummers gave a workshop to schoolchildren whose faces lit up once they got their hands on the djembes. This year, Kate Spanos and Dominique Mbaye are going to teach the island how blend the two rhythms into something that’ll surely get feet moving!
While visiting the island last year, Kate, a professional Irish dancer from Washington, DC, brainstormed an idea to offer “rhythm” workshops for youth before the St. Patrick’s Festival. In partnership with Senegalese drummer, Dominique, who’ll teach djembe, they’ll offer free workshops allowing the children to explore aspects of their heritage through shared rhythms.
The AWB team did a little Irish jig of delight from helping Kate and Dominique purchase seven West African djembes to teach students basic drumming skills, along with body-based rhythm techniques from Irish dance before taking the stage at the festival. These drums will later be donated to the youth community of Montserrat so that they may host future workshops and performances.