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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.

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Dominica’s nickname is the Nature Island and for very good reason. Among the many gorgeous Caribbean islands Dominica stands alone as one of the most remarkably pristine. It offers breathtaking panoramas and sparkling turquoise waters at every turn.

Dominica is a haven for serious divers and many people also enjoy snorkeling and whale watching here. It is also home to a boiling lake, 365 rivers and numerous national parks. In every respect Dominica is an ideal destination for nature lovers and those who want to explore unspoiled beauty.

But Dominica should also be celebrated for its beautiful architecture and historic buildings. Many buildings demonstrate the diverse cultures that have shaped the area. They may display a distinctly Caribbean feel, but many of the historical buildings also show the influence of the English, French and even Spanish. Many older structures that date from the Colonial Period still exist and help visitors to discover the rich history of this island culture. Several of these surviving buildings served a military or religious purpose. Others were utilized by the local government. Visitors to the area will also find breathtakingly beautiful plantation houses that demonstrate a prosperous and gracious style of living. Still other older buildings were once bustling mills that helped bolster the local economy and helped shape the island to become what it is today.

Photo:The Historic Noorwood House in Roseau, Dominica

One of the best places to explore the historic architecture of the island is in the city of Roseau. Most streets are lined with gorgeous examples of old architecture and to truly appreciate the many structures it is best to traverse the city on foot. Roseau boasts many old mercantile type buildings that helpfully illustrate the history of trade and commerce in the city and across the island. The Roseau Public Library is a gorgeous example of relatively early architecture. It was completed in 1906 with the help of American Andrew Carnegie. Today it is still a graceful and imposing example of the best architecture on Dominica.

Visitors should also make the time to visit a few examples of Ti Kaz. These are wood framed houses traditionally occupied by Carib natives. Many of these are seen at the Carib Reserve. Seeing such structures really gives visitors a feeling for the lifestyle of the island’s natives.

Photo:The Historic barracoon Building in Roseau, Dominica

Many of the buildings on Dominica feature stone masonry bases – excellent for protecting the building in the event of a hurricane. Many historical buildings also feature sturdy timber boarding. One of the most distinctive and beautiful components of most Dominica buildings are the hurricane and jalousie shutters. Many of the most memorable buildings also favor steeply pitched roofs with gables that resist the wind. The really eye catching feature of most buildings that visitors love are the long, sleek verandas. Not only are these architectural features beautiful, but they are also the perfect place to sit and catch the scented evening breeze.

Photo of Dominica's Architectural houses in Roseau

Dormer windows are highly popular in Dominica as they allow additional light and enhanced air flow. This keeps the rooms cooler and very comfortable. Nearly all of the structures on Dominica are built with the island’s terrain and climate in mind. This enhances their longevity and also their livability. However, the people who have built on the island have also kept aesthetics in the forefront of their plans. This accounts for the many beautiful buildings in Roseau, Portsmouth and across the remainder of the island.

Any visit to Dominica would have to include an exploration of the island’s natural beauty, but should include discovering the island’s many historical buildings as well. Discovering how people have lived and worked on Dominica through the years highlights the history and culture of the many people who have called Dominica home. It is a singularly beautiful island, ideal for explorers and romantics. With gorgeous colonial architecture framed by spectacular tropical rainforests this is one unforgettable destination for visitors from every corner of the globe.

Kathleen Hubert is a blogger who writes on a variety of different sites. Check out more of her work at led tv.

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One of the quickest ways to get to know a community, or culture, with which one is unfamiliar, is to dance with them. In the case of Dominica Island’s vibrant cultural history, a great deal can be learned through dance.

Works of music, art, and dance, and the compositions, forms, and styles created by the peoples of Dominica are a tactile and experiential representation of the peoples that collided and melted together to create the island culture of today.

If you’re a tourist, don’t be confused. Dominica is not the Dominican Republic. Dominica Island lies between Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean Sea. This geographic information is important for understanding how Dominica Island’s artistic styles developed, and how this development influenced the dance coming out of the country in particular.

Photo of Dominica Quadrille dance

The location of Dominica Island made it an ideal location for settlement, which of course meant that just about every European nation attempted, or succeeded, in overrunning the indigenous community and colonizing it at some point between the early 1600s, and Dominica’s independence from the UK in 1978. Though this aspect of Dominica’s history is not particularly different from the history of other island communities, what sets Dominica apart is the fact that the indigenous population, the Carib Indians, were able to maintain there own identity and retain their cultural traditions. Their movement traditions, combined with the traditions brought by peoples stolen from Africa by the British and French for slave labor, and the movement traditions of the British and French themselves, created dance forms as mixed as the linguistic customs of the island.

There are a number of traditional dances whose mixed ethnic heritage is apparent in their sequences and rhythmic structure. Some hew more closely to a particular region’s dance traditions than others, but all are stamped with a distinctly Dominican flavor. The Mazook, is perhaps the most widely recognizable. As the population of Dominica has moved to other parts of the world, it is the dance most often performed, taught, and presented to the rest of the world. Based on the Polish Mazurka, which was adopted by the French and then passed on to the mixed population of the island, Mazooka utilizes a base step of glide, shuffle, glide, cross step return, in combination with many more complicated steps as dictated by the music. The Heel and Toe Mazooka is also a popular variation that has a similar feel to the polka


The Quadrille and Lancers are two dance forms that share a similar structure. Both are square dances, though the former is rooted in the French tradition, and the latter in the British. The Quadrille is danced with four couples that dance as couples, and exchange partners throughout the dance. The sequence for exchanging partners is quite lengthy as each set is made up of five figures. Lancers is a British quadrille and is actually a combination of English country-dances and reels from Ireland and Scotland. The male part of the dance has a more military quality than its French counterpart. Both of these dances found their way to Dominica and were also absorbed and subtly adjusted to fit the music and the people of the island.

Bele is believed by many to be the oldest dance of the island movement traditions. It is the form most rooted in African movement structures, as opposed to European. The dance is very tied to the music that accompanies it, which is created entirely by the tambou drum. It is performed by a couple surrounded by a larger group and is a dance of courtship. It’s comprised of a sequence of “call-and-response” movements, in which the male half of the couple dances showing strength, and the female half responds by dancing her interest. The male half of the couple again dances to show his interest, and finally the two dance together. The movement is recognizable for being quite energetic, and the group surrounding the two dancers, sings.

For tourists seeking an opportunity to get off of that reclining sofa in the hotel and gain instruction in the traditional dances, the forms are performed at cultural events on the island throughout the year, including the Dominica Carnival, the World Creole Music Festival, Jazz n’ Creole, and Creole in the Park. More formal classes in the traditional dances can be found at the Health and Wellness Expo held each May, or by contacting academic institutions on the island, many of which offer strong performance programs to their students, as part of the regular academic schedule.

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Dominica arts and crafts

In Dominica I often hear artisans lament that they struggle to compete with cut-price, lower quality, mass produced imported items, and that these days it’s almost impossible for them to make a living solely from their craft. But this issue is not unique to Dominica, nor is it a recent occurrence.

Since the start of the industrial revolution and mass consumerism, skilled craftsmanship has been rendered almost obsolete with the markets flooded by cheaper, machine-produced items. Globally craftspeople and support for arts and crafts in general have been on the decline and the current economic climate and lack of appreciation for original art and craft, has compounded the situation.

However, in recent times, there seems to be stirrings of a sector revival, and if so, Dominica is ahead of the game when it comes to authentic art and craft. It is inextricably rooted in our history and culture and all we have to do is sustain, improve and market what we have already been doing for many, many years. Especially in view of the size of the island and its population, Dominica can boast a large percentage of diverse, versatile and talented artisans and a rich heritage of skilled craftspeople.

The natural environment is often cited as the major source of inspiration to both local and visiting artisans and the land too is a source of an impressive array of raw materials which can be utilised sustainably: all parts of the coconut tree, variety of wood (including driftwood), banana leaf, flowers, grass, larouma reed, fougére (tree fern), shells, sand, sea glass, calabash, seeds, river rocks, natural dyes and bamboo, to name a few.

Over the last two years I have seen increased interest and recognition of the potential of this sector; ministers’ talk of the importance of heritage and cultural tourism and promises of more help for arts and crafts producers have been made.

This year, initiatives in this sector have included; the formation of Dominica Arts and Crafts Producers Association (DACPA), the Cultural Division Coconut Art & Craft Exhibition at the Old Mill Cultural Centre, held as part of the Independence Celebrations, the opening of Tiffany’s and Talipot art galleries and the Alliance Française Christmas Market held on 10th to11th December. Credit must also go to Ross University who for several years have been hosting an annual arts and craft fair in November at their campus grounds in Picard, showcasing the work of local artisans. Regionally, I am also excited to hear about the soon to launch Arc Magazine, a quarterly Caribbean Art and Culture Print and E-Magazine due to be published out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines by artists, Nadia Huggins and Holly Bynoe

I personally believe that if we are serious about wanting to preserve, enhance and create a sustainable arts and crafts sector, more can be done by government. For instance the removal of all duties and taxes on the importation of already expensive arts and crafts material and tools will go a long way to helping producers compete on price and to show the government’s real commitment to the sector. But regardless of what governments or the OECS do or don’t do, we can help remedy the situation by simply sharing information about local artisans, exhibitions, craft fairs, galleries etc or choosing a local craft item for ourselves or for our next gift purchase.

So if you are doing your Christmas shopping in Dominica this year, consider making that extra special effort to hunt down a locally made art or craft item and when you see something you like, tell a friend or two.

Dominica Art Galleries
– Everybody’s Gallery, Hillsborough St, Roseau
– Old Mill Cultural Centre, River Estate, Canefield
– Talipot Gallery, Victoria St, Roseau
– The Art Asylum, Jimmit
– The Art Gallery, King George V St, Roseau
– Tiffany’s Art Gallery, River Estate, Canefield

A selection of stores selling local art and craft
– Abilities Unlimited (Workshop for the Blind), Federation Drive, Goodwill
– Albert Casimir, St John’s Av, Pottersville and Bay Front
– Ambiance Nc, Castle St, Roseau
– Bay Front, Roseau
– Bionic Leather Craft, Kennedy Av, Roseau
– Cabrits National Park, Portsmouth
– Cocorico, Dame Eugenia Charles Blvd (Bay Front), Roseau
– Ego Boutique & Duty Free, Cnr Hillsborough St & Old St, Roseau
– Forever Young, Dame Eugenia Charles Blvd (Bay Front), Roseau
– Geneva Estate Craft Centre, Grand Bay
– Green Eye Production, Loubiere
РIguana Caf̩, Portsmouth
РKalinago Barana Aut̩ (KBA) and the Kalinago territory
– Natural Talent store, Bay Street, Portsmouth
– Old Market, Roseau
– Papillote Wilderness Retreat, Trafalgar
РRiverside caf̩, La Plaine
– Shalom, Hillsborough St, Roseau also at the old market
– Shanise’s Craft Centre, Corner Hanover St & Hillsborough St, Roseau
– The Ruins, Old Market, Roseau
– Tourist eco sites e.g. Morne Bruce, Trafalgar Fall, Emerald Pool, Wotten Waven etc

Arts and Crafts Organisations in Dominica
– Dominica Arts and Crafts Producers Association (DACPA)
President – Francis Richards, E: [email protected]
– Visual Arts Society of Dominica (VASOD)
President – Irvin C Durand, E: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
– The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, Export Development Unit (OECS-EDU) is gearing up to establish an OECS Design Network. The Dominica Design Network (DDN) is part of this.
Business Development Officer (OECS/EDU) – Mrs. Jennifer Julien-Laudat,
E: [email protected]
President (DDN) – Andy Manley, E: [email protected]
– Waitukubuli Kalinago Arts & Craft Association (WKACA)
President – Theresa Frederick, KBA Kalinago territory
– Cultural Division
Chief Cultural Officer – Raymond Lawrence, E: [email protected]

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