GHA stages first ever gala night
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The Gambia Hotel Association, in collaboration with the Education through Culture and Communication Organisation (ECCO), and with support from Bank PHB, CFAO Motors and Gambia Experience, last Friday organized a cultural gala night at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
The occasion, which was the first of its kind in the annals of The Gambia's tourism history, was geared towards putting on display students from the Norwegian College of Dance and their Gambian counterparts as well as to create publicity for the establishment of the Gambia Institute for Performing Arts (GIPA), an ambitious project initiated by the Norwegian College of Dance together with ECCO International and the University of The Gambia.
The occasion, graced by over three hundred participants from all sectors of society, was preceded by a dinner which was followed by a spectacular cultural dance. First to rock the stage was the Sembeh International Group. Then came an extra-ordinary performance by students from the Norwegian College of Dance and their Gambian counterparts, sending the audience into jubilant mood. Delivering the opening remarks, the chairman of the Hotel Association, Alieu Ceesay, expressed joy to be associated with the Norwegian College of Dance, noting that there is still much to be learned from "our culture."
For his part, the chairman of the Norwegian College of Dance and former vice chancellor of the University of The Gambia, Professor Andreas Ludvig Steigen, said the beauty of performing arts is that the experience is owned by each of us. "At the same time," he added, "we belong to an audience sharing a unique experience that will never be repeated." "Culture," Professor Steigen went on, "penetrates society vertically and horizontally. No culture is itself a culture as it is an added value that is indispensable from human beings." He spoke at length about the significance of music, drama and dance and the conceptualization of the Gambia Institute of Performing Arts.
For the seventh time since 2003, the Norwegian College of Dance is visiting The Gambia for their annual course in West African dance, music and culture. The course is organized by the Education through Culture and Communication Organisation (ECCO). After successes in previous courses, the college came up with a new program and with yet another novelty. For the first time, not only Europeans, but also four talented Gambian students are joining the course which will earn them a certificate with internationally accredited study points for higher education. At the end of the course, the best one will be invited to study at the Norwegian College of Dance in Oslo.
With the aim of improving the mutuality of cultural exchange, the college organized an audition and invited Gambian youths to the GIFTS sports centre, where they were to show their skills not only in traditional West African dance but also in improvising, drama and contemporary dance, as well as their social skills. The most talented ones were chosen to join the 4 weeks course.
These are Sarjo Sankareh, Ndey Fatou Jabang, Amina Senghore and Yassin Bandjir. They live together in the Berefet Cultural Camp and train Wollof, Susu and Fula dance, music as well as acrobatics. Moreover, the students attend classes in contemporary, ballet and jazz dance styles like Hip Hop and Dancehall Reggae-Style. They also learned about teaching and pedagogy, while joining the children's project with the pupils from the Berefet Lower Basic School.
Author: By Gibairu Janneh