BWW Interview: Ripton Lindsay talks WOMAD Takeover
This weekend, WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) has brought a world of culture to the South Bank. Part of the National's River Stage series, acts such as beat boxer Grace Savage and musicians Afro Cluster have taken over the stage. As Sunday kicked off, BroadwayWorld thought we'd try our hands (and feet and hips) at some dance. Leading a Jus Dance session, Ripton Lindsay chatted to us about workshops, WOMAD and why he loves to perform.
You've just got offstage from your second workshop this weekend. How was it?
Brilliant, as always. For me, I always get in a kind of zone when I go out there. What is it I want to achieve? What is it I need to deliver? So I always enjoy my workshops. It could be raining, it could be sunny, it could be snow, but I always feel great after. And as long as I feel like I've connected with the audience, just one person in the audience, and that they've left with something memorable, then I've done my job.
And being here at the River Stage, it's a nice collaboration with the National Theatre and WOMAD. And that's the whole thing: putting acts together and combining them, and letting people enjoy that moment. So it's a pleasure being here.
Do you normally do more workshops or performance?
I'm a bit of both! For quite a while back, I've been doing more workshops than performing. And that's great, because it incorporates everyone, the whole family. But at this point now, I'm getting back into performance and music now. My world is about dance and music, so it's a bit of a balance.
How did you first get into dance?
This might sound strange...but I actually think it began when I was in the womb. Why I say that is because I didn't know my Mum was actually a dancer until years ago. And I didn't hear it from her; somebody told me. And one day I was away and I decided to pay her a visit, and that was the first time that I ever caught her dancing! And she didn't know I was there! And I realised that she was a really great dancer (she was just dancing to herself, to some 70's music). But when I watched her, I thought, 'Okay, that's where I probably got it from!' So my Dad was highly into music and she was into dance. So I think I just took on everything.
Apart from that, the culture that I grew up with in Jamaica is also kind of a separate culture from the traditional Jamaican culture itself. It's a culture with drumming and dance. The drummer today, he's part of that culture. So even if I don't see him for a year, two years, three years, if I just signal to him or say something to him, he knows exactly what I need. So we grew up in that kind of thing, a dance and music culture. So I live the life of dance!
How would you describe your dance style?
Whatever I do, I always have a Jamaican element in there somewhere. Because it's a way of remembering who I am, honouring my ancestors, the people who passed on all the traditions to me and, in turn, I pass it on and share it with other people on a global level.
And nothing is wrong with keeping a tradition and then adding on. But remember the rules. It's like with carnival, the essence of carnival. It has a rule, it has an ethos, and I live by that ethos. It embraces people and it refers to community and coming together. The truest sense of carnival is community.
And at the end of the workshop, you share that message.
Yes, I just try to bring that in whatever I do. It's just who I am and what I believe in and what I prefer in this society. It's all about love, humanity and everything. And I don't just say it because I've got a mouth! I'm saying it because it's coming from a profound place in my heart, and that's what I wish for everybody globally.
Speaking of globally, what's it meant to be part of WOMAD this weekend?
You know, sometimes you just can't find the words to describe something. Somethings are just indescribable. That's it with me and WOMAD, because it brings so many great memories. For example, this year I performed at WOMAD at Charlton Park and a lady and a guy came up to me, only to find out that this lady is my actual blood cousin! And she'd been coming to WOMAD for years and had taken all of my workshops, and didn't know or even register we were related until she spoke with somebody in the family. Then she realised and she came up to me and that's it. I actually met my cousin this year! And she actually came today also!
But apart from that, just like I was saying about carnival representing community, WOMAD embraces the community also and the ethos is family. So it has that family feel, it just caters for everybody. It's just a great feeling, just to be a part of all of that. It's more than a World of Music, Arts and Dance; it surpasses that in my opinion. It's a home away from home for me.
Photo Credit: Rona Kelly