Web Posted - Tuesday October 5, 2021
When Steel Talks

Meet Astor Johnson - Humming Bird Medal Gold Awardee - Founder of The Astor Johnson Repertory Dance Theatre of Trinidad & Tobago, and more  - UpClose!

a Von Martin Interview

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Global - “....I see the pan music as any other form. I have worked with a little with Earl Rodney and some of “Boogsie” Sharpe′s music as well - I find them very progressive - very lending towards dance movements, I think mostly because of the way they take a melody and then they would do a lot of counter structures and phrases within the melody - the same way one choreographs.. ...However what I would like to see done is a little more on the educational side - this is why I think your program dealing with the evolution of pan is so important. The majority of the younger choreographers and dancers are strangely enough not very knowledgeable about how pan came about at all. 

“You would be surprised to know that if you ask them, they simply do not know.. Interestingly enough, I am involved in a project now... to get a possible television program that we want to do in dance depicting how this whole thing started, the pan movement, the era has probably arrived when we are going to get into this kind of exercise. Really educating the public as to the evolution of pan. ...You find that today there is a lot of lack-luster interest in the pan - probably for Carnival, yes -- outside of Carnival, no. I am very obsessed with the idea that the reason for this is a non-knowledge - no information really about what the pan is about - an awareness about where it came from, how important it is to us, what a great contribution it is by Trinidad & Tobago. You know the old story when you live by the sea you take it for granted everyday... ...the same way with us; we have something, the steelband, here, that is so vital and yet taken for granted.”  -- Astor Johnson

“...Johnson danced as a youth with the Burey Thomas and the Julia Edwards dance companies before leaving Trinidad in the mid-1960s to pursue a degree.”  --  Ronald C. Emrit - panist and Trinidad & Tobago Cultural Historian