Taking Cornish dance to the Caribbean!

It started as an web enquiry in April, and ten weeks later Hevva found themselves dancing in the Caribbean! The island of Martinique holds a biennial Quadrille Dance and Music Festival, and likes to invite a foreign group that is a little bit different to what they are used to but still has links to quadrilles. Cornish dance of course fits that bill perfectly.

We knew that the quadrilles were widely taken up as folk dances across Europe, but had no idea they had reached the far-flung French territories. The way these dances have evolved here is fascinating, the haute taille quadrilles of Martinique have a strong Caribbean influence and are basically courtship displays. A couple of workshops, though, and we were well into it!
The accompanying music is pure Caribbean; the basic set-up is accordion with lots of percussion, led by a single skin drum not unlike a crowdy crawn but played with the hands, and augmented by shakers and scrapers. We had excellent musicians with us, but to his embarrassment the one that got all the attention was the drummer!

Our performances were received enthusiastically, especially the scoot dances which were something completely new to them, and the audience got really involved in a Mrs. Parkyn’s challenge, wildly cheering both sides!

Our hosts went out of their way to ensure that we also had a good time between performances, and one day was particularly memorable. We were taken out by boat and shown the local islands and marine life before enjoying a swim on a reef, which was then followed by a delicious beach barbecue and more swimming.

Memories? So many – the friendly people, the vibrant colours, collecting windfalls of mangoes and coconuts, the cicadas, the warm sea, the rum(!), and many, many more.

A truly wonderful trip, an experience we will treasure always.