Short and sweet today. I’ve opted to rework the title and the tagline of this site. Take a look above and see “Welcome to Makandal” (title) and “Bridging the Past and Future of Traditional Haitian Arts” (tagline). What happened to “La Troupe Makandal” (our legal name) and “Classic Haitian Performing Arts,” the words that have marked this site since its rebirth on WordPress?
First of all, the roots of the word “troupe” lie in an Old English term for village and later a Middle French term for a group of theatrical performers. In our time it usually implies a large dance company featuring choreographed work. We have long ago abandoned that configuration. On top of that, “La Troupe” is straight French, and we are dedicated advocates of Haitian Kreyòl. So leave La Troupe Makandal for our legal papers, and let’s embrace Makandal for everything else. After all, why take anything away from our namesake Makandal, the eighteenth-century freedom fighter and messiah? (Check his Wikipedia entry, and also look for Alejo Carpentier’s book The Kingdom of His World for the amazing details.)
Second, much as I love the word “classic” to describe Haitian drumming—it puts the music on an equal footing with the highbrow—it just conjures up too much academic baggage. Instead of a noun phrase I crafted a more lively gerund. And bridging the past and the future reflects more accurately some of our recent projects: archiving the legacies of drummers who have passed, documenting and disseminating the work for emerging artists and scholars, tackling our ecological dilemma as we present a neo-folktale set in the future. I also took out “performing arts” because we work with so many wonderful visual artists.
Enough said. This was not so short, after all, but I hope it was sweet.
Featured image: Detail from Makandal, the Rebel Slave with Magical Power Leaps from Fire, by Wilson Anacreon, 1991.