Tue | Jun 2, 2020

Letter of the Day: Dancers do not equate to dunce bats

Published:Monday | June 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM


I heard a particular statement last Friday evening, thought about it all weekend and I'm still displeased!

How could the emcee, Wesley 'Burgerman' Burger, for a Jamaica Cultural Development Commission event end up spewing the following garbage: "If you nah no CXC, if you nah no degree, gwaan go dance, you can still go farin!"

Was he suggesting that dancers do not need formal education, that they generally have none, and are incapable of attaining same? If dancers can't read and write, how does he suggest we negotiate contracts, manage international travel with multiple connections in countries of different cultures and languages, and daily manipulate scarce resources while still successfully navigating other challenges?

He clearly isn't of the view that to choreograph dance steps in sync with music, costumes, spacing, lighting and props takes some 'sensible' effort. His statement belittles the work that goes into courting sponsorships and coordinating rehearsals, which include juggling everyone's schedules, studio space availability, transportation and making sure that what is being presented is suitable for the audience/occasion.

Key in all of this, too, is that, sadly, he's unaware that dancers are often some of the best marketers of any event they are booked for. Let it be known that Jamaican dancers are also lecturers, doctors, photographers, lawyers, fashion designers, architects, accountants, among many other areas that space and time does not permit me to list.

We most certainly contribute in meaningful ways on and off the stage, including as mentors to younger generations of practitioners. The thought process that all dancers do is 'jump pon stage, kick up foot, turn two times and jiggle for an applause' must be eradicated.

I wonder if his intention was to get a cheap laugh from the crowd at Mandela Park? Whatever the case, he instead embarrassed himself and the JCDC while disrespecting all dancers in the audience, including contestants who were on hand to participate in the globally known and respected World Reggae Dance Championship eliminations.

If it were my event, I would have told him to hand over the mic because you, 'Burger Man', are free to go home and have as many seats as is available in your house! You are most deserving of only returning to work at a dance-related event after an apology that demonstrates a perspective that is befitting of the times within which we now live, one which says careers in the arts matter.

To do anything less signals ignorance of the tireless work and worth of The Edna Manley College of the Visual & Performing Arts, the Institute of Jamaica, as well as countless artistic stalwarts this country has produced. Please take note, dancers DO NOT equal to dunce bats!


Choreographer, Lecturer,

Edna Manley College