January 21, 1997

Caribbean Dance Company to Come to Middlebury College

The Caribbean Dance Company of the Virgin Islands will present a wonderfully diverse program at the Dance Theatre in the Center for the Arts at Middlebury College on Wednesday, January 22, at 8 p.m.

Under the direction of Marty Thompson, the company's unique repertory displays the elements from which traditional West Indian culture has arisen-African, European, Asian, Native American-in jewels of brilliant color, energy, rhythm and passion. The result has electrified audiences throughout Europe, North and Central America and the Middle East, with ovations and raves at every appearance.

Founded in 1977 by Mr. Thompson, the Caribbean Dance Company seeks to research, teach, perform and preserve the rich heritage of diverse folk dance forms from throughout the West Indies. With this mission, the company performs for thousands of residents and visitors at home in the Caribbean each year in major and smaller performances.

Across the Caribbean there is a long chain of islands stretching 1,500 miles from Florida to the coast of Venezuela. For thousands of years before Europeans arrived, many different Native American tribes populated the many islands: the Tainos, Igneri and Caribs. After Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Hispaniola in 1492, many Europeans decided to settle there and plant crops-mostly sugarcane. Because it was hard labor, they began to "buy" people to do the work. Starting in the late 1600s, tens of thousands of Africans, such as Mandingos, Yorobas and Ashanti, from the continent's western coast were caught against their will and taken to the Caribbean to work as slaves and in the last century, thousands of East Indians went to the Caribbean as indentured servants. The people of the Caribbean are descendants of the many different cultures that have lived there. A lot of old dances from the many "folk" that have settled there are still part of the daily life of the Caribbean people.

Tickets for the Concert Series performance are $9 for general admission. It is funded in part by a grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Vermont Council on the Arts. It is sponsored by The Middlebury College Concert Series; the department of theatre, dance and film/video, and the PALANA Center. Call 802-443-6433 to order tickets.