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Vieques brings Caribbean Fantasy to life

With their showy and colorful outfits, to the rhythm of calypso or salsa, the more than 50 members of the Caribbean Fantasy Group arrive; the union of ages, rhythms, clothing and genres in the most striking cultural manifestation of Isla Nena.

Their carnivalesque style and their innovative steps in unison draw the attention of everyone who watches them. However, in the opinion of María Isabel Santiago Sánchez, founder of the non-profit organization, the most striking thing about her is the generational gathering that the group maintains with members from two to 75 years of age.

“It is a comparsa group representing the art and culture of Vieques in a Caribbean style. If you know, most of the groups are based on calypso, carnival-style music, and we, thanks to the younger ones, have integrated new rhythms and songs. It is the same young women who put on the dances,” said the cultural leader who is affectionately called “Marisa.”

Of this fifty Viequenses that make up the group, fifteen are elderly people who have joined due to the pride and feeling of belonging caused by participating in the renowned troupe that was incorporated in 2009 into the Puerto Rico State Department. Rich.

Since then, Fantasia Caribeña and its generational group have delighted the Viequense people with their majestic outfits and dance performances, participating in activities such as patron saint festivities, cultural festivities or special festivities; even their talent and folklore has transcended the seas because for three occasions they have been invited to participate in the Puerto Rican parade that is celebrated in New York. “The first time we went was in 2015 and we were practically all family. Here it is from the grandmother, the mother, the daughter and granddaughters, most of them are family. If God allows, we are working for next year to represent Vieques and Puerto Rico in the parade in New York, which until now is the most important activity in 2023″, said enthusiastically the Viequense who leads the line in the carnivals or cultural festivals.

Although she recognizes that this representation is uphill, Marisa assured that “it is a long process because it starts from the preparation and shipment of costumes, sending them by maritime transportation, everything goes by ship. Later, in New York, a truck is rented to pick up the changing rooms that are there on the day of the parade,” said the founder, mentioning that to keep the group active they resort to fundraising activities, “someone else sponsors us and the municipality helps us”.

For this reason, Marisa said that the group belongs to all Viequenses, since many citizens are integrated contributing their talent in the effort of coordinating dances, making costumes and fundraising activities to continue shining. “We have to do many activities. All these adults are part of my staff; adults who are the ones who help fulfill every detail necessary for the presentations. It’s practically a community project. There are from all the neighborhoods of Vieques. We started in the Santa María neighborhood and then the other neighborhoods were integrated. Even from the Virgin Islands and Santa Cruz, girls came to participate, before this COVID pandemic,” Marisa highlighted.

In fact, the founder said that one of the main challenges of the organization is to design the costumes according to the theme of the festivities they attend, so the ingenuity of many compatriots is vital to show off the fantasy that attire provokes. in their dances.

The group meets three to four times a week in a place in front of the city’s Plaza de Recreo as they rehearse various choreographies given the number of activities they have confirmed, such as the Dedication to parents on June 18, the Carnival and reigned in July, the Christmas Parade in Culebra, and the New York Parade in 2023.

As part of its social work, the group Fantasia Caribeña promotes discipline among its participants, so those of us who are students “ask for an acceptable average. We demand that they have to maintain good grades, discipline and respect for others, that is part of the conditions to represent our people in Caribbean Fantasy”, concluded the Viequense leader.

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