Kumba la Jaiva !

Dance and Music workshops 
in Dominican Republic

A two weeks odyssey into traditional, ritual and popular
cultural expressions of the Caribbean...
Workshop Home
Program and Activities

Dates and Prices

Special student package
A Quick look at Afro Dominican Rhythms and Dances

(under construccion)
Code of conduct 
Code of ethics

Dominican Republic and Real life experiences
Book now!
About Kiskeya Alternativa
Contact us

Personal experiences

My life in the Dominican Republic
by Anne Marte(vodse1@hotmail.com )

My name is Anne Marte, student of the Netherlands Institute of Tourism and Transport in Breda, Holland. I have had the great opportunity to live in Santo Domingo for 5 months for my training ship together with my good friend Marieke.
When I heard that I could go here I was so excited and telling everybody were I was going. Not everyone was as excited as me, they had the idea that the Dominican Republic wasnít that save and full of criminals. People who had been there, spend their time in a resort for three weeks and only knew about the beautiful beaches, palm trees, the clear blue sea and the nice food in the resort they stayed. Or they went to Zona Colonial on excursion and were glad to be back in their safe area after it. The Dominicans were harassing them. And what did we know? We had hardly heard from the country and what should we believe? After all we went on our trip with a heavy heart, just waiting to see what the Dominican Republic was going to bring us. Well I can tell you honestly, it turned out better than expected after all the bad stories.
From the first day I arrived in the country it has been great. Santo Domingo is a big city and of course there is some criminality, but isnít that in every big city in the world. And what about the resort tourists? Well, they were right about the beautiful beaches, palm trees and the clear blue sea, but up till now Iím still asking myself to which part of Zona Colonial they went, where the harassing Dominicans are. I think that their idea appeared, because of the safety and quietness in the resort. In Zona Colonial people have to make a living as well and are just trying to sell their goods and they see money in tourists. Can you blame them for that? We lived in Zona Colonial during our stay and I really enjoyed it. Dominicans are whispering at you, calling names at you (Rubio/a, Americana/a) but it isnít meant as harassment or an offence. Just give them your smile and they will have a good day. The Dominicans are really friendly people, they will help you where they can and are always in for a chat. They really live outside in the streets, the music comes to you from every corner and it always brings a good atmosphere to the neighborhood. A lot of Dominicans are poor, but enjoy life more than most of us do. With the little means they have, they try to think only positive thoughts. They know that they havenít a lot to spend, but instead of worrying and negative thoughts, they enjoy their day at the utmost. And I can ensure you that it will have a positive influence on you as well. I know I didnít make a mistake by going to the Dominican Republic, I enjoyed my stay a lot and I am positive in coming back one day. Before judging a place you should have been there. I will recommend it to go to the Dominican Republic to everyone who has got the opportunity and have the same positive experiences as I had.
Artistas por el Gagá 2000 !
With five buses, we left from Santo Domingo to Batey la Ceja on the second of April. Atmosphere was good from the start and when we arrived we were given a cordial welcome by the inhabitants of the Batey. This meeting was really strange to join for an outsider. Everybody screaming and yelling and the drums were really something. We all got flowers, and canes were picked and swung through the air. Food and drinks everywhere and dancing all day. Everybody really got into the rhythm and it seemed like the Dominicans from Santo Domingo remembered old times and rediscovered the rhythm of the Gaga. Unfortunately, a broken generator delayed the concert. And eventually after just a couple of artists, the concert was cancelled because it was really getting late. Fortunately, the concert was repeated Monday April 10th on the Plaza España in Santo Domingo.

Villa Mella

Villa Mella is a poor but vivid community, which is known for her dedication to music and dance, especially the Congos.
The cultural associations Bayahonda in cooperation with Kalalu-Danza are working together with the children here and try to learn them about the cultural aspects as well as dances and music. We were invited to go there, because of the shooting of a video clip of Gaga. It was great to be a witness of all this. It is such a difference of what you are used to. They enjoy life so much. With the little means they have, they are happier then a lot of people who got everything. They dance all day, play music, and the atmosphere is so friendly. They share all they have with you everyone is each otherís friend, whether youíre white or black. On Sunday they filmed on Paco Rabanne, a party boat near Zona Colonial, with the same dance group but with different dancers. With shooting at two completely different places they wanted to make a video with a comparison in the difference of dancing on the same music at different places.

The Dominican Republic
By Marike Schutte

The Dominican Republic is situated on the eastern part on the island that together with Haiti forms Hispaniola. After Cuba, the Dominican Republic is the second island in size and population among the Caribbean countries. The island is covered with kilometres of the most beautiful beaches as well as a lot of mountainous areas. In the central highlands you can find the Pico Duarte (3175m) that is the highest mountain of the Caribbean area. This is one aspect of the Dominican Republic from which you can conclude it is a country of contradictions. One moment you are laying on the beach in nothing but your beachwear and the next moment you can be hiking in the mountains with your winter clothes because temperature really can decrease to around the zero.

The Dominican Republic is a country with a varying natural environment that offers a lot of opportunities for walking, hiking, biking and all other kinds of active sports like parapenting, rafting, canyoning, etc. In the protected areas of the National Parks, you can discover the wildlife and it is the place to be for bird watching. Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, is the first city of the New World. This is still obvious in the Colonial Zone of the city where you can visit the ruins and the restored buildings originated from the colonial period. This is really another element of the contradictions in the country. The government put millions of dollars in restoring the Colonial Zone to make it attractive for visitors, while there are a lot of people living in the same zone and hardly have any money to eat.

Santo Domingo is a city with almost 3 million inhabitants and you never get bored. Whether you are walking on the boulevard, through the shopping street El Conde, through one of the parks, there are always things to see. You can also visit one of the museums about the history of the country, the theatre, the national aquarium or even caves. The nightlife of Santo Domingo is very lively and you can visit fancy discotheques as well as luxurious nightclubs or popular bars. Or you can join the Dominicans who just sit on the corner of the street drinking ron(rum) or cerveza(beer) enjoying their music and a conversation.

Music is a very important aspect in the lives of the Dominicans. In every building and in the streets you hear the popular Merengue, Bachata or Salsa and people start dancing as soon as they hear the first notes, it doesnít matter were you are. In the communities, on the countrysides and Bateys music and dance takes in a big place in every days life and is being practised with a lot of dedication. In the last centuries a lot of people from Africa has been sent to the Dominican Republic to work and also a lot of Haitians are still coming here to work on the sugarcane fields and hope for a better life. Their influence in the different religious and ritual dance and music streams is really noticeable. A lot of instruments, which are being used during the performances are from Haitian or African origin. All the different music and dance has been integrated and transformed into a unique Dominican way of performing.

The population of the Dominican Republic are really friendly people. They will never be to busy to have a chat or to give a helping hand where needed. The majority of the population is poor and has to survive with little means, but they have the idea to enjoy life by the day and they will see what tomorrow will bring them. They are happy and donít worry too much, life is too short. Although that there is a difference between the poor and the rich, they treat each other with all respect and sometimes it just looks like it is one big family. At the Colmadoís (little corner shops which are used as a social meeting point) everybody is talking, drinking and laughing together and the difference in class doesnít seem to be of any importance.

Colour still plays a very strong role in Dominican society. White is considered rich and black is considered poor. The blacker the skin, the worse is the place in society. Women even buy cream that makes you look whiter and some people donít ever go to the beach because of the fact your skin gets darker of the sun. But the majority of the people go to the beach almost every Sunday to eat, drink, swim, play games or just to relax with a bottle of rum enjoying being with family and friends.