Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dancing "Traditional" in Dominica

Oasis Dominica(n) Feature: A Hat Romance

(photo of Marcelle John)

I have heard that the points of this hat are significant: One point and the girl's single and available, two and she is married, three and she's a the folk wisdom goes...

~~~~In Dominica, the traditional dance costume is worn for special cultural occasions and is often made with great care. Marcelle's grandmother made this costume-the last one before her death.

On the afternoon of our visit, we saw the beautiful costume laid ~~~~~~~~~~out on a traditional piece of furniture. I was surprised because this is the same traditional furniture you find in Puerto Rico. The open weave back and seat area make it particularly suitable for hot tropical weather.

~~~~~~It wasn't long before we convinced Marcelle to dress up for us so we could see how the outfit was worn. She was a great sport about it! Her sister, Irma Bryon, helped to tie and adjust the carefully made parts.~~~~~

Once all the pieces are put together, we are treated to a most festive and dramatic costume!

~~~~~~~~ A view from the window... imagine the family getting dressed for church and walking through town on a Sunday...only I think they wore a different outfit...a more formal
outfit. We were shown one of these in the family photo
album...~~~~~(the long sleeved dress on the left would be worn to church.)

~~~~~Here are some young people dancing for us at the Caribbean Cultures adorable romance -where the boy appeals to the resistant girl -is acted out in the songs. We were entertained by a delightful folk musical.
I imagine that the original house look like the neighbor's lovely wooden home complete with the cutout lacy detail...sigh...romantic, yes, but cement is more practical in the storm tossed tropics.
Thank you...
celle and Irma for showing us your beautiful rich Dominican traditions, but most of all, thank you for sharing your warmth with us in your family home.
Bloggers, thank you also for reading about my visit to this unique island. If you missed the previous posts in this feature, please go back and read more about Dominica. (I just received my copy of "The Unburnable" by Marie-Elena John in the mail and have just read the beginning...these women are the author's aunt and mother.)

Post Script:
I'm sure we all agree with the "World Peace" sentiment on this Dominican building...and let it begin with all o
f us.


  1. Oh Cynthia, this is a precious portrait. Lovely. Informative. Full of heart.

  2. Wonderful post! I love learning about traditions and the symbolism of costumes and what they signify. I have been busy, down, up etc...but will go back and read about your visit...

  3. This was wonderful Cyn! I've been a good for nothing blogger too! HA! :)

  4. I have just begun reading Annie John. Jamaica Kincaid’s unencumbered prose is a refreshing contrast to Junot Diaz’ densely myth steeped world.
    The rich flavors of Dominica come alive through your vibrant journal.

  5. Oh Cynthia what a nice surprise to have you visit. I loved your story and will go back and read the older posts. I have an adopted daughter from Dominica when I was working. She was beautiful. She would send me letters and tell me about her life. I got her through a group, but forgot her name. I so wanted a child from Haiti, but Haiti does not take part in the Christian group I worked with. I spent some time in Belize in missionary work and fell in love with that area. Blessings to you.

  6. You're life is so adventurous! WHat a vibrant post. It bursts with color and life:)

  7. Hi!! I haven't stopped by in a while and I've missed you! I loved this always have such interesting things happening in your life and so many places to visit and learn about- amazing!
    I'm going to take some time now on your blog and browse through what I've missed. Hugs:)

  8. Cynthiaaaaaaaaa....sooo nice to c ya back...thanks for passing by...good post u doing? sure all fine with u dear friend..cheers and best wishes always:)

  9. How much fun to see tropical colors and dancing on your blog while the snow is lashing down in New England and every other post I've read is about Christmas. I feel like I've gone on vacation too. Great post!

  10. Oh those clothes were so pretty, as was the house with the cut outs - but, as you say, cement would be stronger but not half as lovely

    You are photogenic, cyn - you are glowing in those pics


    p.s. love the new layout

  11. I loved this Cynthia. It evoked memories of home, the simple joy and pleasure of meeting up with people who wear their true feelings all of the time. Nothing more. Thank you for sharing. What a great privilege to meet the author's family. I felt all the warmth you shared with them in this post. Yes, and cement is less romantic and more practical.

  12. Hello Cynthia,
    I enjoyed reading your blog about Dominican culture and how it is being passed on by wonderful women such as Marcella John.
    I would like to offer a correction on the author of "Unburnable's name. Her name is Marie Elena John.
    I am sure you will love the book as it an engrossing historical novel that takes place in Dominica in both the present time and the early 1900's.
    I look forward to your blog on Unburnable!
    L. J.

  13. Thank you all for your comments!xx and Laurie, I appreciate the correction! I went through a lot of versions of her name! (I tried to correct them all!):-) xx

  14. What I love about you and your blog Cynthia, is your appreciation and lust for life. Your travels are so colorful and you share them with such fervor and delight. I am so envious of your amazing journeys and the great people you meet along the way. You also take magnificent photos.'s always like a mini-hols when I come to your site. I feel like I should carry my passport ;) xoxoxoxox

  15. This was so lovely, and informative, you really captured what it is like in Dominica (athough i've never been there, it feels like I have now). Nice photos, of amazing women.
    enjoy the season on your beautiful isle!


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