CASTRIES, St Lucia -- Relations between the people of Taiwan and the people of the Caribbean have been strengthened with a 12-day visit to Taiwan of a special cultural contingent from Saint Lucia and three other Caribbean countries from October 17 - 28. The visit was described by the deputy minister of foreign affairs in Taiwan as the use of the “soft power” of arts and culture to build stronger friendship and diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the Caribbean.
The delegation from Saint Lucia was led by the executive director of the Cultural Development Foundation, Kennedy “Boots” Samuel, and comprised ten members of the nationally acclaimed Helen Folk Dancers. In Taiwan they were joined by the Pantempters Steel Orchestra from Belize, the famous La Marimba de Concierto band with the Director of Culture from Guatemala, and an eight member dance theatre group from St Kitts and Nevis led by the vice minister of culture and gender affairs. Towards the end of their visit the Caribbean delegation was also joined by a traditional dance performance group from Nicaragua.
The Caribbean contingent was hosted and gave major performances in five communities across Taiwan. Packed audiences in exquisite theatres were treated to a rich and diverse representation of Caribbean people and their unique culture in the varied presentations from the countries represented. Special performances were also done in formal social engagements at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and at the Presidential Palace as guests of the vice president. The performances provided a rare opportunity for a tremendous bonding and sharing experience among the Caribbean performers themselves, who with exquisite rhythms and beauty proudly expressed regional unity within a foreign environment.
Saint Lucia’s own Helen Folk Dancers were spectacular in costumes and their actual presentation of traditional dances. They thrilled audiences everywhere with their warmth, artistic excellence, and group energy. Their stage presentations included a four-minute tourist promotional video of Saint Lucia that enchanted audiences and sparked much interest in the country’s natural beauty.
Apart from the formal performances, the Caribbean delegates participated in a number of other activities at the community level that helped to build relations and intercultural understanding at the grassroots level. Some of these included press conferences, community rehearsals, media reports, and special visits to sites and communities of cultural and historical significance.