Ayiti Files: A Cultural Exchange Trip 2014

Editor’s Note: Earlier this year in April, Christine Joy Ferrer and other Dance Mission Theater students embarked on a two-week cultural exchange trip to Haiti hosted by Daniel “Brav” Brevil, musical director/master drummer of Rara Tou Limen. This slide show/video reel is part two of a three-part project, as Ferrer tries to boil her personal reflections about the two-week cultural exchange experience in Haiti to a photo essay, a short video, and a written reflection. Ferrer is the editor and content manager of DMT’s blog, The Beat of 24th and Mission. Read more from her by visiting eyesopenedblog.com. DMT teacher, Portsha Jefferson, is the artistic director of Rara Tou Limen and teaches Afro-Haitian on Saturdays at Dance Mission Theater, live drumming led by Brav. 

Slide show/video reel by Christine Joy Ferrer
Eyesopenedblog.com, August 2014

It was really Rara Tou Limen’s Rasanble Haitian Arts & Culture Festival/10th Anniversary in Oakland, a week or so ago, that took me back. It was as if I was back in Ayiti dancing (Ayiti “land of high mountains” was the indigenous Taíno name for the island. The French changed its spelling to “Haiti”). The drumming, the music, the food, the dancing, the teachers, the rhythms of Ayiti all captured in a weekend. I reveled in that energy. Ashe.

So, I decided I had better finish this video for me… and my own personal reflection. And to contribute to what’s positive, since most of what you see or hear about Haiti in the media is just noise.

I dedicate this slide show video/reel to Sephora, Daniel’s 9-year-old daughter. I learned from her most. She’s so mini, you’d think she was five or six. Her big smile and precious joy could brighten any room. The best part was that she didn’t know English. Kreyol all day, every damn day (or Spanglish included, she spoke that too). She corrected my kreyol mispronunciations and we’d pantomime the rest. In the little time we knew each other, she managed to finish my sentences with her body/hand gestures. Somehow she just knew. We both knew. I swear, Sephora and I were most likely related in another life. When we played or danced together, words were never needed– what’s left was our heartfelt emotions. And I for one am very emotional. For the first time, it really hit me, words are overrated. She could drum, dance, sing… and we did all those things together and more. She captured my heart on so many levels and I can’t wait to see her again.

Now, I only wish I had better video footage and more of it. I’m seriously thinking about getting a real camera, a GoPro or upgrading my phone to a Samsung Galaxy from an iPhone because the camera is better haha. But, thank you Daniel Brevil, Laurie Gundling, Tamika Harris, Halima Marshall and Rayna Wiles for sharing some of your goodies with me.

Mesi Anpil to our all Haitian dance and song instructors who taught us at Ecole Nationale des Arts d’Haïti (ENARTS) in Port Au Prince, Gerda, Ramses, Ferlo, Mac-elie, and Sanba Zaro; and to Rara Tou Limen, ENARTS, FOSAJ, Daniel “Brav” Brevil and Portsha Jefferson. A special thank you to all the 2014 cultural exchange donors and supporters and to the families that fed and housed us in Gonaives, and to Daniel’s family and dear friends that took good care of us and cooked delicious Haitian meals for our hungry tummies. Ayibobo! – Christine Joy Ferrer

For more information visit, raratoulimen.com.

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Related Stories:

Haiti On My Mind, Part 1

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