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    Posted February 28, 2013 by
    St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (USA)
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Travel photo of the day

    More from beetraveler

    Dancing for Freedom, Dancing for Identity


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     beetraveler was visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands when she had the opportunity to interview Afro-Caribbean Bamboula dancers on the island of St. Thomas. She says these dancers are keeping their nearly lost tradition alive in the Virgin Islands. During the interview, she spoke to MaryAnn Golden Christopher, who demonstrated the traditional dance and explained the cultural importance behind preserving it. She explains that Christopher also arranged the demonstration for her. 'I didn't know beforehand that the drummers were going to be there when I met MaryAnn, so I was pleasantly surprised. One of the drummers -- the one in green -- literally came out on break from work in the Legislature Building to drum,' she said. 'It makes sense that MaryAnn did this though as without the drums, one can't grasp the power of the dance.'
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    These Afri-Caribbean Bamboula Dancers are keeping a once nearly lost tradition alive on the US Virgin Islands. As it was Black History Month, and I was very curious about the story behind this dance and its importance to the islands, I arranged an interview to find out more. They not only demonstrated the dance but also explained the importance of the dance to their history and identity as US Virgin Islanders and Americans.


    This interview was filmed at the waterfront directly in front of the St. Thomas Legislature Building in the capital city of Charlotte Amalie. In fact, one of the drummers is a government worker, but was able to take a break to participate in the interview and performance.

    In this interview, MaryAnn Golden Christopher (from St. Thomas) mentions St. Croix, one of the other islands. St. Croix is a place close to her heart for two reasons. In 1848, when still under Danish rule, St. Croix slaves revolted and won  emancipation (decades before Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation  Proclamation in the Unites States). Emancipation Day is now celebrated  on July 3 every year. That also happens to be MaryAnn's birthday. So, she celebrates life, culture and freedom on July 3 every year.

    My other reports related to the preservation of culture and history on the US Virgin Islands:
    http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-930761 (Photo essay)

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