Festival Destination d’Aquin: Haiti Comes to Life through Art

The Haitian dance company Ayikodans held a concert to revive the cultural tradition of Haiti. On the Easter weekend, the dance troupe performed, together with other local artists, at the “Hymn to Life” concert of the “Festival Destination Aquin,” organized in order to restore the musical and cultural tradition of the country after the January 12 earthquake.

El Nuevo Día reports that the concert, with the beat of the drums (“Vodou drumming, batucada, and other Caribbean rhythms”), gave the town of Aquin “an atmosphere of fraternity and happiness that took a distance from the mourning that had overtaken the country for the past three months.”  Singer Marrodie Pierre said, “After the earthquake, we made no plans for the future. I needed to sing; I was missing my world.” On Friday hundreds of Haitians marched in a candlelight vigil around the city in honor their fallen brothers. The Festival Destination D’Aquin was created by the Fondation Solidarité D’Aquin, which is chaired by Magali Comeau-Denis, former Minister of Culture and Communication (2004). In past years, the concert attracted up to 5,000 people and lasted four days. On this occasion it was necessarily reduced to two days. Nancy Comeau, a member of the foundation, said, “This year we organized the event in honor of other cities. Aquin did not suffer as much damage as other places. This is not a festival but rather a tribute.”

This tribute had the participation of the highest artistic expression of the country, Compagnie Ayikodans, the premiere dance troupe that serves informally as Cultural Ambassador of Haiti through its numerous performances in Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Americas. Led by internationally renowned Haitian-born choreographer Jeanguy Saintus, Cie Ayikodans “presents a seamless blend of modern and traditional dance styles.” Since its inception, the company has been home of dancers and choreographers that have developed their artistic work in Haiti. Ayikodans presented a montage of inspiring pieces linking Haitian Vodou with contemporary movements. Dancer Linda François performed Martha Jean-Claude’s song “Marasa,” a “prayer to the divine in a quest for salvation.” Another memorable moment was Marrodie Pierre’s soprano rendition of a song by Carole Demesmin, while a dancer threateningly twisted and coiled behind her in his performance of “Loogaroo,” a Haitian folk character that embodies evil.

Other memorable moments included the performance by Nadège Dugravil, who placed second in the “Digicel Stars” contest (the equivalent of “American Idol” in Haiti), and the Martha Machado Artistic Brigade. The latter is a Cuban group that has been traveling from town to town bringing puppet shows, clowns, magicians, and painting workshops to children throughout the country.

The festival was described as a resurrection for Haiti and confirmed what Minister of Culture Marie-Laurence Jocelyn-Lassègue has expressed, “For us, culture is neither a luxury nor an accessory; it is through culture that we can develop certain aspects of our society.”

For full article (in Spanish), see http://www.elnuevodia.com/haitiresucitaconarte-697365.html

For more on Fondasyon Ayikodans, see http://www.fondasyonayikodans.org/main/

See images of Ayikodans performances at

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