Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan

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Meet Giselle Desir - Brooklyn, New York

“It’s just such an amazing instrument to say you know how to play....I feel like the community doesn’t welcome steel pan....The community needs to be more understanding and welcoming to the culture of Steel Pan.”

Pan brings much joy into her life, and she wishes it would do the same for others. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - panist, performing artist and dancer Giselle Desir shares her passion for Pan and the steelpan art form overall.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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WST - “Tell us about Giselle Desir?”

Giselle D. - “I am an 18-year-old, Trinidadian and Haitian, Brooklyn-born-and-raised ball of laughter.”

WST - “How and when did you first become involved with Pan?”

Giselle D. “I attended St. Augustine’s Episcopal church all my life. They brought the idea of a pan group in the year 2009. I played at my church for maybe 2 years until I became overwhelmed with extracurricular activities at school. From there, years went on and I was introduced to Crossfire Steel Orchestra from my friends in church. I started in the year of 2013 and have been playing ever since.”

WST - “What made you fall in love with the steel pan instrument and its music?”

Giselle D. - “It’s just such an amazing instrument to say you know how to play. You can get the music that you would play in 4 different instruments in one beautiful pan. The music is such a joy to play especially when your band has good vibes. My mother also bought me a tenor pan when I was younger. It sat in my garage gathering dust until I joined Crossfire, I was able to finally put it to use.”

WST - “Is there anything else that is, comparable - like pan, for you? ”

Giselle D. - “I also have a big love for dance. I began dancing at the age of 5 and started dancing professionally at the age of 11. I still have the love for dance and now teach younger ones how to dance at my dance school ‘Creative Outlet’.”

WST - “What keeps your passion for Pan and its culture going?”

Giselle D. - “Being from Trinidad; it allows me to keep in touch with my culture. Pan became something that I really enjoyed doing. Playing with Crossfire felt like another family. So every time I come to practice I knew I was going to a place of laughter and joy when I was going to practice. ”

Giselle Desir
Giselle Desir

WST - “What have you been most proud about as it relates to pan?”

Giselle D. - “I have been really proud of my growth of being a pan player. I think starting in 2013 I was all shy and afraid to really play and enjoy. But after getting comfortable I now understand that pan is all about having fun and feeling the music and the vibes. So now I jump behind my pan and dance like no one is watching. I also became more familiar with catching music quicker.”

WST - “What disappoints you the most in the steel pan movement?”

Giselle D. - “Finding a place to practice in the summer is always a challenge. I feel like the community doesn’t welcome steel pan. It’s often very hard to find a place that is big enough for your band, or a place that won’t get shut down at like 9:00 o’clock. The community needs to be more understanding and welcoming to the culture of Steel Pan.”

WST - “If you could have a major ‘say’ in the issue - what would be your vision for the future of the steel pan instrument?”

Giselle D. - “Allowing the pan groups to be able to play for a reasonable amount of time, understanding that it’s for a competition. Also having the permissions to use more places like empty lots for reasonable prices.”

WST - “What is your favorite genre of music to play on steel pan?”

Giselle D. - “I don’t have a specific genre. I love to hear some sweet Soca on the steel pan but I’ve heard all from classical to pop and they all sound amazing.”

WST - “What would be your advice to young women who would like to become involved with the steel pan art form?”

Giselle D. - “My advice would be to come along and join. Honestly, it’s a lot of fun. It’s a very welcoming community and it’s worth trying because you might end up liking it and wind up being that ‘woman on de bass.’”

WST - “What is your favorite Panorama piece?”

Giselle D. - “My favorite panorama piece would have to be Outta De Box that we played last year.”

WST - “What is Panorama to you?”

Giselle D. - “Panorama is a way to show your talent and show people the music and talent your arranger has. It’s also an amazing experience to hear all the other bands in Brooklyn.”

Giselle Desir
Giselle Desir

WST - “Is Panorama a blessing or a curse?”

Giselle D. - “It’s a blessing to be in a place, hearing the sweet music of steel pan. You are able to share the experience with people who have the same heart and dedication like you.”

WST - “If you had the power to change something in Pan immediately - what would that be?”

Giselle D. - “Funds. I wish that it wasn’t as expensive so that we will be able to have more pans to welcome more people. Or like having enough money to get nice large yards to welcome people to sit and hear the sweet music.”

WST - “What are your fondest memories with Pan?”

Giselle D. - “Playing Outta de Box! When we reached the ending of the song and we had that ‘ginormous’ drum. It was so moving. Especially because of how the year might have been a little challenging; we were still able to make it through and play our hearts out.”

WST - “What is your vision for Pan in New York?”

Giselle D. - “My vision is that it will only get bigger and better.”

WST - “Are there any other steel band related matters you would like to bring forward?”

Giselle D. - “None at all. ”

Giselle Desir
Giselle Desir

Their Story, Their Voice, Their Life, Their Dreams - click for more stories

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