Students studying at the School of Drama in Seychelles will be getting international training following the establishment of a partnership program with Britain's University of Winchester.

Stephen Hall, head of performing arts at the university, is visiting the island nation to discuss with the National Conservatoire of Performing Arts about adopting some UK-based qualifications and developing a first-year drama degree for the School of Drama. Students, who complete the first year, can then proceed to the University of Winchester for the second and third year.

As a first step, a two-week drama workshop was held at the Theatres des Palmes at Mont Fleuri, a central district on Mahe, the Seychelles' main island. In the sessions, students got to work with a professional with 20 years of experience as an actor, director, writer, and composer. 

 

Students in one of the drama sessions with Stephen Hall who is the head of performing arts at the university.(Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

The training was also organised to give new skills to local instructors and young people accredited to the school.

“The country has existing strength in music and dance, and the missing link is drama. There is a need for a resurgence of drama and theatre. I think that theatre and drama have the power for revisiting and celebrating the rich history and culture of the Seychelles,” said Hall.

The head of performing arts at the Winchester University said that drama and theatre can also be used as a way of sensitising the communities on critical issues pertinent to them.

“It is not just about a play on the stage, but it is about taking the tools of this art and going out into the community, meeting with different groups, finding their stories and letting their voices be heard,” he said.

Hall explained that this method can be used with the health care services, social services, senior citizens, young offenders, prisoners, vulnerable families and young people.

“There is a lot of potential from what I have seen here, and people should really think about giving the real value to drama which is very beneficial to young people as it helps them to develop and build up their self-confidence and their communications skills.”

Local instructor Kurt Lagrenade who studied at the University of Winchester and Stephen Hall. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

Local Instructor Kurt Lagrenade, who studied at the university, welcomed the partnership with Winchester, saying that “students who are really interested in theatre and drama can now have the opportunity to be trained, enrich their knowledge and earn their degree at the university.”

Lagrenade said that after their foundation studies in drama, the students will learn about production.

“We then expect them to form their groups and start performing. Using theatre for development, they can perform basically anywhere in community centres, on playfields, anywhere in town. They can use their skills to entertain but at the same time educate and raise awareness on issues affecting the Seychelles.”

Seychelles has over the years become a popular honeymoon destination for newlyweds looking for the ultimate escape to spend their first days as husband and wife.

One hotel in the Indian Ocean archipelago, Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, is now offering couples on their way to becoming a trio, another kind of experience.

Pregnant guests staying at resort located at Baie Lazare in the south of the main island, Mahé, can now enjoy a ‘babymoon experience.’

A babymoon is a romantic vacation taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born or by new parents having just welcomed their little bundle of joy.

Four Seasons Resort Seychelles is offering the babymoon experience specifically for parents-to-be. This new experience, which the resort said is not chargeable started on Monday, August 7.

This was prompted by the desire to ensure that pregnant guests are made as comfortable as possible during their stay.

Guests indicating their pregnancy while making their reservations will be automatically enrolled into the babymoon experience in luxurious treehouse style villa depending on its availability.

A special kit of pregnancy must-haves from pool float, mobile phone for direct access to the Cravings Hotline to order their favorite snack or essential comfort item wherever they may be in the resort are just two of what the “babymooners” can expect.

The resort’s General Manager, Adrian Messerli said: “We often welcome couples who travel to our resort when pregnant, so our new babymoon is a way to ensure they have the most romantic experience together whilst also ensuring comfort and complete relaxation.”

“All of the elements of the babymoon have been designed with the needs of pregnancy in mind, to ensure that the guests can focus fully on enjoying their final romantic trip together before the new arrival,” he added.

Expectant couples can also choose additional experiences including pregnancy yoga, massage or in-villa-dining at additional cost.

Contemporary style dancers from Seychelles will be sharing experiences and learning from other international groups in the 9th edition of the ‘Biennale des Dance’ being organised by the Seychelles National Conservatoire of Performing Arts. 

Five countries are participating in this year’s edition of the Seychelles Dance Biennale from August 20 to September 2. An international choreographer and contemporary dancer from Australia, Scott Ewen, is also participating. 

“Our dance biennale focuses on contemporary styles, but includes a fusion of our traditional dances as well - it is a vehicle for the development of contemporary dance in Seychelles,” Pierre Joseph, director of the conservatoire, told journalists Thursday.

Contemporary dance is described as a style of expressive dance that combines elements of several dance genres including modern, jazz, lyrical and classical ballet. It is a style in which dancers strive to connect the mind and the body through fluid dance movements.

“The biennale is for participants aged 15 years and above and is very challenging as the event is specifically for people who are thinking seriously about dancing as a career," Joseph said.

The five participating countries are South Korea, South Africa, Reunion (a French department in the Indian Ocean), Madagascar and Mauritius including a group from Rodrigues.

First observed in 1997, the Seychelles Dance Biennale takes place every two years in the western Indian Ocean archipelago. It provides a platform for cultural exchanges among local, regional and even international dance enthusiasts allowing them to be exposed to a variety of dance forms and techniques.

The highlight of the biennale will be participants performing a piece choreographed by renowned Australian choreographer Ewen, said Ruth Barbe, a dance instructor.

Barbe worked with Ewen at the Western Australian Academy for performing arts in Perth. “Seychelles will be Ewen’s fourth country to work with this year, as he has a tight schedule working with different companies notably the Australian Dance Theatre," Barbe said.

She added that: “Ewen specialises in contemporary dance and some acrobat. It is a real privilege and honour to have him here with us sharing his experience.”

An instructor from the school of dance, Joel Rose, said that the biennial gives the local dancers the opportunities to share experiences and learn from the participating groups.

Rose added that it is not a competition and that “the delegation will start workshops immediately after they arrive in the country on August 21st. These sessions are very intensive and will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day."

Mauritius and Madagascar will be presenting the creations they made for when they took part in the Jeux de la Francophonie - held recently in Ivory Coast.

The Seychelles Dance Biennale will culminate in a gala evening on Saturday, September 2 at the International Conference Centre in the capital Victoria. The money raised at the event will be used to fund one student to attend the international workshop of the school of dance which usually organised in the year where there is no biennale as a preparation for the event.

“The best students of the school attend these workshops, but the money raised at this gala will be used to fund the outstanding student.”

This year’s dance biennale is being organised in partnership with the Seychelles National Youth Council and the Creative Industries and National Events Agency.

Constestant No. 2 in the Miss Seychelles beauty pageant for 2017 is Angie Desnousse, a business-oriented young woman.

Desnousse, 21, is an only child on her mother’s side and resides at La Misere in the eastern district of Plaisance.

Although her parents were not too thrilled about her participating in the Miss Seychelles beauty, all is well and she is well set on her journey to win the title. SNA caught up with Desnousse to learn more about this contestant.

 

SNA: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your back ground.

AD: I am an only child from my mother’s side, and I have three other siblings on my father's side. I currently live with my mother but spent my childhood at Rochon, with my adoptive family, and it was where I spent my school holidays.  Today, I visit them whenever I can.

 

SNA: What are your qualifications and what are you doing career wise?

AD: After Mont Fleuri secondary school, I joined the School of Business Studies and did a course in office management and administration. I am currently working for VCS (Victoria Computer Services) doing front office and customer service.

My aspiration is to have my own business. I do not know what kind of business though. At one time I wanted an offshore company, but I realise now that this will not be easy. I still want to be my own boss, and something in my heart is telling me to do something with young people.

They are facing so many challenges, and a lot has to do with technology. Nowadays children spend too much time with tablets, laptops and phones. They lack outdoor physical activities. When I was growing up, I played outside even if I scraped a knee I still grew up with good memories of these adventures and sometimes mishaps. 

(Michel Desnousse) Photo License: CC-BY

 

SNA: What pushed you or encouraged you to join the pageant?

AD: There is a funny story behind me joining the pageant. I would have never thought of taking part. When the organisers were still looking for participants to join the contest, a friend of mine registered my name. She then called me and said, “if I have registered your name in something without you knowing, will you be mad at me?” I told her it depends. That when she gave the form to fill, and after further persuasion I did. My mother was not too thrilled about me being in the event, but now she has warmed up to it and now is giving me her full support.

 

SNA: Apart from work what are your interests, hobbies?

AD: I love the outdoors, the sea and the environment. My best time is being on the beach, and I also love to hike. I used to go hiking with my friends but now not too often as they mostly abroad studying and training. I also love dogs, and if it were up to me, I would probably own more than the seven dogs which I currently have. But due to work commitments, I can’t have any more, plus I will get into trouble with my mum.

 

SNA: And for this pageant what will be your project which you will be working on?

AD: As a young person, I have a soft spot for my peers, and this is why my project is on -- young people. I will be working with youths from the two secondary schools close to me, Mont Fleuri -- my old school -- and Plaisance, which is in the district I live in.

My project has to do with troubled young people, and I am targeting those who have been through the discipline programme being held at the army camp. When the programme is over, these young people are sent back to school, and in a lot of cases, they go back to their negative behaviours. I feel that they still need to be mentored.

So my project is to set up a network of different adults who will be mentoring them so that they can change for the better. I will be approaching the teachers, people from the army, members of the National Assembly, the National Council for Children, psychologists and the district administrators. I will also bring in the two priests from the two parishes as I feel spirituality is missing in our young people’s lives.

(Miss Seychelles - National Pageant, Facebook) Photo License: CC-BY

 

SNA: What will be your advice for young women who are scared or not confident in joining pageants?

ED: First and foremost, beauty is not only physical, but it is also within. It is the way you treat yourself and others. Young women should be aware of this. Before I joined the pageant, my concept of beauty pageants was fashion. There were a lot of things I didn’t know, and it’s only now that I am discovering more. I am learning about my country and our culture.

So I think young women shouldn’t think about what people will say and let that be a hindrance.  As the pageant pushes you out of your comfort zone, you can become more outgoing. But I think at the end every person joins a pageant for their own personal objective and achieving them.

 

SNA: What are your expectations after this experience?

AD: I feel there is still a lot of growing up for me. I am only 21 years old, and I am learning a lot about etiquette and other values which will definitely make me a better person, especially a better young woman.

 

SNA: If ever crowned what changes/difference will you want to make or bring to the society?

AD: I will want my project to materialise. I want all of us, meaning the whole community, to work together to make the positive change needed to make our country a better place for the children.

Key areas of cooperation between Seychelles and South Africa were the focal point of discussion between President Danny Faure and the newly accredited South African high commissioner to the island nation.

Tourism, health and education were the existing areas of bilateral relationstouched upon by the head of state and the diplomat, after Zenami Dlamimi, the new high commissioner, presented her credentials to Faure at State House, Victoria, on Tuesday.

“In terms of the bilateral cooperation between South Africa and Seychelles, the collaboration is robust and we acknowledge the important role South Africa has played in the last years and continues to play to spearhead many important initiatives in Africa,” said President Faure.

On her part, Dlamimi wishes to see the South Africa-Seychelles bilateral relations continue to strengthen, particularly in the trade sector.

The high commissioner and the president also talked about ways the two countries can further consolidate the existing relationship, primarily in priority sectors such as maritime security, forensics investigations and culture and arts.

Seychelles and South Africa began diplomatic relations in 1993. In March 2016, South Africa opened its consulate in Seychelles at Eden Plaza, Eden Island, a reclaimed island on the east coast of main island Mahe. 

Dlamimi will be based in Port Louis, Mauritius.

Eight youths from the Seychelles are currently in New York City attending the 20th session of the U.N. Youth Assembly.

The conference is being held at the United Nations headquarters from August 9 to 12, although the Seychellois youths have a busy programme that will run until August 16.

The team from Seychelles -- a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean -- includes Annarose Clarisse, Curtis Alvis, Victoria Gao, Kelly Mothe, Raghvai Naidu, Anastasia Pantazopoulou, Bhavini Raghvani and Sanjna Shah.

The Youth Assembly is a platform that aims to foster dialogue and generate partnerships between youths, civil society, the private sector, and the United Nations.

The gathering, which accepts applicants aged 16 to 28, started off as an annual forum in 2002, expanding into a bi-annual conference.

Anastasia Pantazopoulou, who will turn 16 during the conference, is the Seychelles’ youngest participant. Pantazopoulou told SNA that she wanted to attend the UN Youth Assembly to prove to herself and the youth of Seychelles that no matter their country’s status or size they can and should aim to make a difference.

“I hope to gain invaluable experience and knowledge and thus spread this to the youths of Seychelles,” she added.

A sending off ceremony attended by representatives of the United Nations Development Programme in Seychelles, government officials, parents and sponsors was held before the delegates left for New York City.

The eight Seychellois youths took the opportunity to express their appreciation towards their parents, government ministries, and the national youth council who have helped them in their application process, as well as local businesses who have generously sponsored their trip.

They will be joining over 1,000 other young people and guest speakers from across the globe, to explore the cross-cutting issues and propose solutions for sustainable development. 

Through their discussions, the delegates will also contribute to global discussions on ways to implement the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Seminars at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and Fairleigh Dickinson University also feature on the programme, where they will have the opportunity to propose projects aimed at tackling local and global issues.

For Annarose Clarisse, this is her second participation, as she was the island nation’s only delegate at the UN Youth Assembly held in August 2016.

Clarisse has since set up a non-governmental organisation – UN Youth Seychelles. Through this platform, which has 22 members to date, she has been able to share her experiences with other youths in the island nation and encourage them to take part in such a conference.

“One of our mandates is to ensure that Seychelles is represented at the Youth Assembly by at least two people every year,” she told SNA, adding that she is accompanying this year’s group for guidance.

Clarisse, a law graduate, believes that the gathering provides an array of opportunities for young people to learn through interaction, share views about various issues and to be equipped with knowledge and resources that would allow them to become more active in their respective communities.

“How the young people will use this opportunity is entirely up to them, but what I am sure of is that they will become change makers in whatever field they pursue,” she told SNA.

Through her youth organisation, Clarisse has been able to gather support from other former youth delegates, including two American nationals, who are currently helping to find ways to implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Seychelles schools.

Another future project is to organise the first Model United Nations in Seychelles. This is a learning programme aimed at allowing students to get an understanding of the undertakings of the United Nations.

“We would like to get Seychellois youths to represent a country and address global issues. This is a way of developing a lot of good skills and qualities in our young people,” she told SNA.

The 20th session of the Youth Assembly at the United Nations is being held under the theme ‘#Society For All: Equity and Inclusion for a sustainable future.’

The UN Youth Assembly website states: “Guided by the overarching principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ‘leaving no one behind’ the conference will explore cross-cutting issues and solutions for sustainable development in the social, economic, and environmental dimensions.”

The event will also provide delegates with other opportunities including peer mentorship, social venture challenge and the possibility for two among the over 1,000 youths to be presented with the outstanding youth delegate award.

The Seychelles islands will once again be welcoming the Four Seasons Private Jet in October next year as part of its new 2018 ‘World of Adventures’ private jet experience.

The Four Seasons Private Jet landed in the Indian Ocean archipelago for the first time in November last year as part of its ‘Cultural Escape’ tour.

For the 2018 expedition, guests joining the hotel industry’s first fully-branded private jet, will be spending three weeks touring countries across multiple continents.

Starting off in Seattle on October 19, they will travel to Kyoto, Bali, Seychelles, Rwanda, Marrakech, Bogotá, and the Galápagos Islands before their voyage comes to an end in Orlando on November 11.

In Seychelles, guests of the Four Seasons Private Jet will spend three days at the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles located at Baie Lazare, in the south of Mahé, the main island.

The General Manager of Four Seasons Resort Seychelles Adrian Messerli said: “Seychelles is a true island paradise – remote and untouched, yet experienced with all the luxurious comfort and caring service of Four Seasons.”

“We can’t wait to welcome Four Seasons Private Jet guests for three memorable days,” he added.

A packed schedule has been designed to allow the visitors to explore the wonders of the island destination – both on land and at sea. They will be able to choose among snorkeling trips, day tour around Mahé, visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site of Vallee de Mai on Praslin where grows the legendary coco de mer – the biggest nut in the world and having a relaxing time at the beach.

A special evening featuring a Creole-style dinner on the beach accompanied by locally made island rum and traditional music performances is also planned for the whole group.

Launched in 2015, the Four Seasons Private Jet, which carries up to 52 guests, is a culmination of a vision to deliver a fully immersive Four Seasons Private Jet Experience both in the air and on the ground.

Each journey includes air travel aboard the Private Jet, ground transportation, planned excursions, all meals and beverages throughout the trip and luxurious accommodations at Four Seasons hotels and resorts.

The Four Seasons Jet itinerary prices for the new 2018 world of adventures experience begin at $138,000.

The newly accredited Australian High Commissioner has commended Seychelles for championing the sustainable use of ocean resources while describing the island nation’s environmentally sustainable economic development solutions as innovative.

Jenny Dee made the statement on Tuesday after having presented her credentials to Seychelles’ President Danny Faure at State House, Victoria.

“Australia and Seychelles have been building cooperation in the blue economy space for some time now and [the president and I] spoke about how we can build on that in the future,” said Dee.

The diplomat said that they also touched on issues affecting the oceans in general, and on regional cooperation, as both countries are active members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association.

President Faure and the Australian High Commissioner touched on issues affecting the oceans in general. (Thomas Meriton, Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY

Diplomatic ties between the two countries were established in June 1976, a relationship that the high commissioner described as warm and longstanding. Dee added that strong people-to-people ties exist between Australia and Seychelles, a 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

“Australia has been a very attractive destination to study in, and we have a very strong Australian alumni community in the Seychelles that are really contributing to the development of the country, both in terms of the public institutions as well as the private sector,” said Dee.

The high commissioner added that there are Australian universities, research centres and companies operating in Seychelles, working with local institutions to build knowledge capacity. They are also working with local authorities to find potential solutions in terms of renewable and clean energy, as well as looking at livelihoods in the aquaculture sector.

The University of Seychelles and the University of Western Australia have a partnership agreement through which human development is enhanced through academic and cultural interchange in teaching, research and training.

The newly accredited high commissioner also made a courtesy call to the vice president of Seychelles, Vincent Meriton.

Based in Port Louis, Mauritius, Dee is also interested in exploring potential areas for two-way exchanges in trade and investment between the two countries. She will be serving a three-year term.

New treasury bonds to encourage savings and attract new investments have been issued by the Central Bank of Seychelles and the Ministry of Finance, Trade and Economic Planning.

The bonds pay between 6 and 7 percent interest rates.

Top officials from the two institutions told journalists in a news conference on Monday that among the four bonds issued, one is for the Development Bank of Seychelles.

“The four bonds worth 500 million SCR (around $36.7 million) will also assist the Development Bank of Seychelles with its operations, mainly its borrowing activities and also allow the Central Bank to better manage money on the financial market,” said Brian Charlette, director general of debt management at the finance ministry.

Charlette said “the government is guaranteeing the Development Bank of Seychelles bond which is for a three-year period and will bring a 6 percent interest per year. The other three covers a 3- to 7-year period and has 6, 6.5 and 7 percent interest.” Payments of interest are made twice a year.

A bond is a debt security and is issued to raise money from investors willing to lend money for a certain amount of time. When a bond is bought, the buyer is lending to the issuer, in this case, the government. A bond is not to be confused with a treasury bill which is a short-dated government security, yielding no interest but issued at a discount on its redemption price.

The Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS) established in 1977 is a financial institution with a specific mandate to assist in the economic development of the island nation.

The Central Bank says the bonds were issued as of Monday, August 7th and people who are interested should either collect applications forms from the Central Bank of Seychelles or download same from their website www.cbs.sc  

An up-close encounter with nesting seabirds, endemic bird species, giant land tortoises, and depending on the season, a nesting sea turtle — these are what conservation lovers are being invited to discover by visiting the small Seychelles’ island of Cousine.

Located some eight kilometers off the west coast of Praslin — the Seychelles’ second most inhabited island — Cousine is now offering day visits for small groups.

The new excursion experience on the secluded island, also home to a small boutique hotel, is open to both Seychellois and tourists.

Describing what the excursion has to offer, the Guest Relations Manager on Cousine Island Mrs. Michelle Pretorius said visitors would be welcomed by the conservation team upon arrival, who will brief them on the island’s conservation program.

The visitors would then be taken on a guided tour of the island’s plateau to encounter and learn about the various species that call Cousine their home, while all precautions are taken to minimize any disturbances to the wildlife.

“To minimize any disturbance to the wildlife and guests on the island we can accommodate up to a maximum of six visitors per day,” Mrs. Pretorius said.

The visit takes around 5 hours, including a three-course lunch and time for the visitors to relax and enjoy the scenery, including the clear azure waters surrounding the island.

“As we are a conservation island with strict invasive species protocol we only allow our boat to beach the island. We therefore can collect visitors from Praslin or we can arrange a helicopter transfer both at an additional rate,” said Mrs. Pretorius.

Cousine spans 25 hectares in size, 1.4 kilometers in length and 800 meters in width. Although small in size the island has a big heart for conservation.

Rich in natural habitat, it boasts an array of endemic vegetation, which creates the perfect habitat for land, sea and migratory bird species that call the island their home. Nesting sea birds that can be found on the island include the white-tailed tropic birds and fairy terns.

A thriving population of 40 Seychelles Magpie Robin, listed as endangered on the IUCN Red list of Threatened species due to its small population, can also be found on Cousine.

Visitors can also expect to meet one of the 80 giant Aldabra tortoises roaming around freely on the island. And if one is lucky to be on the island during the nesting season, the unique sight of a Hawksbill turtle laying its eggs on the beach will come as a special treat.

Aside of the newly introduced day visits, Cousine also has the capacity to welcome an intimate compliment of up to 12 adults & 6 children at its small boutique hotel, which underwent major renovations in 2011, reopening in April 2016.

The hotel boasts 4 luxury villas and a new stately Presidential villa that have been built to blend in well with the island’s lush tropical vegetation.

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