Hundreds attend Gombey festival
A unique aspect of Bermuda's folk heritage was celebrated on Saturday evening when scores of Gombey Dancers and drummers filled the WER Joell Tennis Stadium with thumping rhythms and high-energy routines.
Hundreds of spectators packed the stadium's stands to witness all six of the Island's gombey troupes — Warwick, Roots, Places, Richardson, Warner, and the newly formed Gombey Warriors — go through their paces at the 2013 Gombey Festival. Two pairs of visiting stilt-walking folk dancers from St. Kitts and New York also took part in the celebration.
Kicking off the event, Community and Cultural Development Minister Wayne Scott said: “Today we take a moment to celebrate the tradition of Gombey dance. This festival is held annually to celebrate Bermuda's folk dancers who demonstrate through their intricate dance steps and vibrant music a tradition of dance that has been passed down through the ages from generations of master Gombey Dancers.”
Mr Scott pointed out that Gombey music is a blending of the rhythms of African, Caribbean and North American Native cultures that runs deep in Bermuda's roots.
“An annual celebration of folk music and dance is important for the strengthening of our traditions and Gombey Festival was started for this very reason,” he said.
“It is important that we not only enjoy but we develop an appreciation for the traditions presented by the folk artists who, by their stories through dance help us to remember our roots, become attuned to our ancestors and develop into a more wholesome people.”
Each year the festival recognises an individual “who has cultivated and strengthened the traditions of Gombey music and dance”, and George Richardson was named as this year's honouree.
“Through the past thirty plus years Mr. Richardson has continued a tradition of costume-making and dance which has strengthened and enriched the art of the Gombeys,” Mr Scott said.