MPC Students Immerse in Cultural Heritage Learning the Ponum Dance and about the Coal Pot | SOUALIGA NEWSDAY

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - In a vibrant cultural exchange, 32 Milton Peters College (MPC) students, have engaged in an enriching journey into the art of the Ponum dance. Facilitated by esteemed instructors from the National Institute of Arts (NIA), this initiative aims to familiarize the young generation with the Ponum dance.

This is our national dance, danced by slaves who freed themselves by escaping to the French side in 1848, when France had already abolished slavery. The vocational PBP-PKL students were challenged to deliver six of the very energetic dance movements, while shouting “brim, shoot, Ponum, Ponum, Ponum, Ponum”

They were explained that it took intensive research by Carolyn Jenkins and Clara Reyes to document all the movements from the stories of our older heads. Nowadays, they have passed and this is their legacy that lives on and it is vital to NIA that more young people get interested in preserving this dance for St. Martin.

Besides learning the Ponum Dance moves, the students were informed by Dr. Jay Haviser of Sint Maarten Archeaological Center, SIMARC, about the use of the traditional ceramic coal pot. Replaced by cast iron versions, the ceramic coal pot embodies a cultural heritage deeply intertwined with communal gatherings, culinary rituals, and familial bonds. It was used to cook meals such as corn and potatoes and to heat the iron. Jay Haviser showed the students various models and how it was used.

The two activities are important ingredients of the “Break Free Ceramic Project” of NIA and Stichting Voortgezet Onderwijs van de Bovenwindse Eilanden (SVOBE). Inspired by the Ponum and the coal pot the students will now work on constructing a ceramic object that either pays homage to the traditional coal pot or to the emotions and movements expressing the joy of breaking free after Emancipation.

The artefacts will be displayed in June during a festive exhibition at NIA, as a runner-up for Emancipation Day of July 1st. This project is funded by Prins Bernhard Cultuur Fonds Caribisch Gebied (PBCCG) and the DNB-Fonds.

NIA Jay Havisier SIMARCtalkig about the coal pot

Jay Havisier (SIMARC) talkig about the coal pot.

NIA Students attentive listening to instructor Rudolph Davis and DaShaun Prince

Students attentive listening to instructor Rudolph Davis and DaShaun Prince.