Friday, November 23, 2012

Wine, Cheese, and Kastom Dancing


Two weeks ago, while in Port Vila for a training, I received a last-minute invitation to an event commemorating the 20th anniversary of Alliance Fran├žaise, the French embassy in Port Vila. The event featured a gallery show of twenty modern ni-Vanuatu painters. I was quite impressed by the sublime quality of the painting. Some of them looked like photographs since they were so realistic. Others combined elements of indigenous art forms with more modern designs. It also featured a kastom dance, something I had been wanting to experience since I came to Vanuatu and thought I may not be able to since they do not happen in my village. (Seventh-Day Adventists are often adverse to nearly naked dancing.) There were various speeches, but they were all in French. I was one of the few people there who did not speak French fluently. Even the ni-Vanuatu attendees  The contrast  of wine, cheese, and mini quiches and nearly nude dancers shaking rattles, beating drums, and wearing body paint was quite striking. There were five male dancers and each of them chanted in vernacular languages. Afterward, they demonstrated their sand-drawings in a tray that had been filled with sand. Children tried to emulate the drawings after the dancers had finished. In other news, I recently booked my flights to Beijing and Tokyo. Beginning in December, I will be taking my vacation to travel around China and Japan. So look forward to entirely different stories and pictures on this blog.

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