There are huge differences between French St Martin and Dutch St Maarten carnivals. Each carnival is unique in its own way. French St Martin carnival occurs before Dutch St Maarten carnival, the two carnivals overlap, and there was even a “Unity Jump Up” Which combined both island’s carnivals, started in French St Martin and and ended in the Dutch Sint Maarten festival villages. Shooting videos for both carnivals can be very challenging. When it comes to French St Martin carnival, the choreography covers the width of Rue de La Republique, which makes shooting the video difficult without a wide lens camera, it’s impossible to capture everything. Dutch St Maarten carnival can be difficult to video, because of the frenzy that goes on in the crowds. Before there was no choreography in Dutch St Maarten carnival, but with dual-nation troupes like Survivor SXM, who are featured in the above video, lead by Jasmin Philips, choreography has slowly been incorporated into Dutch St Maarten carnival. The challenge when it comes to shooting Dutch St Maarten Carnival is the narrowness of Frontstreet, where the choreography takes place. With trial and error, eventually everything works out, but there’s a lot of improvisation every year, so the videographers are always caught off guard.
The above video shows the Survivor Sxm troupe on Rue de La Republique street, freestyling following their main choreography. The main dancer is Melissa Courtar, originally from St Lucia, and Junedrey Brown, a native of Curacao.
The dancers and revellers can be distinguished by their footwear, the main dancers are expected to perform their rooting in heels, even on the cobblestones of Frontstreet. The revellers tend to perform in flat shoes, ballet shoes, and some even go bare foot in order to be more versatile, outrageous and shocking.
Some in St Maarten prefer French St Martin’s carnival for it’s ‘classy’ routines, others prefer Dutch St Maarten’s ‘sassy’ carnival- I like both because it expresses each individual culture, and shows the diversity of ‘little’ St Maarten/ St Martin