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Hotseat - Urmain "Youmay" Dormoy

803_hotseat__UrmainYoumayDormoy1Urmain Alphonse "Youmay" Dormoy has the country's best interest at heart when it comes to culture and keeping youths positively engaged. The Sagittarius born, who has fathered one child, considers himself a father to more than 60 children whom he teaches in his drum band: Generation New Status STM Drum Band. Youmay, who is known for his oftentimes brightly coloured hair, was instrumental in the organising of the recently held Emancipation Day Parade and Art Invasion "Freedom of Expression" exhibition this month. He gives insight into who he is in this week's Hotseat.

How would you describe yourself?

I am a colourful and pleasant person with a sense of humour.

Education and studies?

I attended Benilde Primary School and Augustinus Secondary School in Aruba where I was born to St. Maarten parents. I left school in the third grade Mavo and enrolled in Hotel Vak School because life was hard at the time and I needed to work to help ease the load on my mother. After completing Hotel Vak School, I worked at the Americana Hotel and was promoted from dishwasher to pantry chef and then to pastry chef.

How did you end up in St. Maarten?

I was recruited by Macario Prudencia, a great artist from Curaçao, to join his band as a trumpeter; I was on a flight to Curaçao the same day. After my three-month contract, I decided to leave for Holland, but wanted to visit St. Maarten first to see my grandmother and get to know the family. I arrived the evening of March 22, 1979. It was very dark. I remember coming over Cole Bay hill and looking over Cay Hill and beyond; there were not many lights to see, but waking the following morning was a beautiful sight. I fell in love and never left. I then visited every hotel on the island but could not find employment; so I joined the Creole Stars and through music I was able to sustain myself until I got a job at Concorde Casino (now Maho Casino).

How did you end up working in the area of culture?

I worked at Maho for 12 years as a casino dealer. I was accused of trying to bring in a union and was fired. We end up going to court... and I was paid out. I applied for a job with the then Island Government and was placed at the Department of Culture. In 2002, after the opening of the renovated Cultural Centre I was loaned out to the Cultural Centre.

Why is culture important?

Culture is important for a community as it identifies the core values, the richness and the uniqueness of that community.

Tell me about your involvement with the drum band.

The constant negative pounding of the youth inspired me to form a youth drum band as I had already formed an adult drum band: Soualiga Jump Up Brass Band. The idea was to ensure that children have fun while at the same time implementing discipline and educating them. The band has grown and excelled tremendously over time. I think children need to see action not just talk. We must be able to lead them in a positive manner and instil self-confidence in them. Let them know they can achieve and are our greatest treasures.

Why painting?

My artistic side as a painter is just another part of my being. I don't consider myself to be a painter; there is so much more to learn. I do it when the spirit moves and takes me beyond this world. It's a place where I find total peace and am able to create works of art. My work is bold and colourful and I dare to share it with the world.

What goes into planning an event such as Art Invasion and the just-ended Emancipation Day Parade?

Organising these events takes a lot of energy and time... Finance plays a big role as to how much one is able to do. There needs to be more respect and importance given to culture and the arts. There should be no cut backs when it comes to culture and the arts. There are so many other areas where unnecessary spending can be cut. When we cut back on culture, we take away joy from the people, the vital cord of unity; we take away their vitality and creativity. St. Maarten will see a big change in every aspect of its economy and society when the arts and culture are given proper attention.

Who are your favourite cultural icons and why?

My favourite cultural icons are Laurelle "Yaya" Richards and Tanny and the Boys, whom I had the privilege of travelling to the Netherlands and Germany with on several occasions. I gained respect for these men of age who carried themselves with pride for their country with such energy. It was amazing to sit around them and listen to them speak of the band as it exists for more than half a century. If you ever visited Yaya on Mondays, you would know about dumpling and milk. Yaya carried the St. Martin tradition to the core. She had a little museum with all types of things of the past. Spending time with her was enriching to the soul.

Pet peeve?

Seeing people being belittled.

What is your favourite type of music? Which artistes do you listen to?

I love the blues and I am also very old school. I listen to BB King, Terence Trent Darby, Lenny Kravitz, Toots and the Maytals, Jimmy Cliff, Culture, Steel Pulse and many more.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

I would invite Nelson Mandela and cook some breadfruit and provision with salt fish. For the late Maya Angelo, I think she would enjoy a nice fish soup; and for Oprah Winfrey, I would prepare peas and rice, green salad, fried plantains and stewed chicken.