Jamaica, Land We Love.
The video below for the Jamaican National Anthem is so beautiful, that even though it is dated, I wanted to share it with you. Yes, it is sentimental and designed to pull at the patriotic heart strings, but. But, it reminds me of everything I love about Jamaica, about the vision that we need to move towards. Watch it. It's really special.
Kudos to the production team.
Cecil (Maurice Bryan), Rose (Rishille Bellamy),, Joseph (Shayne Powell) and Clarence (Andrew Lawrence) discuss love and life in Last Call.
Ever heard of Myrtle Bank Hotel? In the golden era of downtown Kingston, from the late 19th century to perhaps the mid 20th century, it was THE hotel. It was known for luxury and prestige. Lorna Goodison, well-known Jamaican poet, writes of how awed she was when as a youngster her older sister, Barbara Gloudon, then a cub reporter, took her to the hotel. In Keiran King's musical, Last Call, the oppulent hotel becomes the setting for a tale of love lost and rediscovered.
Written by Keiran King with direction from King and Mike Daley, the plot follows four high school friends who reunite by design and coincidence at Myrtle Bank Hotel in 1949. The play features musical direction by Karen Armstrong and choreography by Paula Shaw. Perhaps one of the most interesting features of the play is the live band, including the obligatory ultra cool bass player, which plays the accompaniment to the musical numbers sung by the talented cast. With respect to singing ability, Andrew Lawrence must be giving special mention as he is particularly talented.
This weekend (August 18 - 21) is the play's last. It will run from Thursday to Sunday at 8 pm, with matinees at 5 pm on Saturday and Sundays, at the Phillip Sherlock Centre of the Creative Arts at the University of the West Indies, Mona. The play, with its heavy air of nostalgia, offers a means of looking back to a more golden era and a much more optimistic time in our history. Ir is well-worth attending.
L-R: Rose (Rishille Bellamy),Cecil (Maurice Bryan), Daphne (Sakina Deer) & Joseph (Shayne Powell) in a group song.
From L to R, Rose (Rishille Bellamy) and Daphne (Sakina Deer) catch up in Last Call.
Sakina Deer plays Dphne, the sultry cabaret singer at Myrtle Bank Hotel.
Dancer/writer Nicole Bain speaks with Oniel Pryce, Jamaican choreographer. (Dance photos courtesy of Danceworks, photographer: Albert Blackwood.)
Dancer, choreographer and Edna Manley College lecturer Oniel Pryce mounted two works in Danceworks’ 2011 season, ‘Transcendance’ Danceworks is the performing corps of the School of Dance, Edna Manley College. Cultural Jamaica sat down with him to discuss his work and his journey in the world of dance.
NB: First of all, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. I wanted to find out from you how you got started in dance. Can you tell me a little bit about your journey as a dancer?
OP: I became a dancer by accident really. It was just after high school (Wolmer’s High). I really wanted to be an accountant or a doctor, but towards the end of my final year in school I found myself becoming a little bit bored with regular academics and was searching for a different avenue to express myself, because at that time I was also very introverted, and I didn’t like to talk much. I wanted a different way to talk basically, so I started to search and the Edna Manley College School of Dance sparked my interest and I just decided to apply. Accidentally I got in...
NB (interrupts): Accidentally?
OP (laughing): Yeah, well I say that because I had absolutely no experience. So I applied and I came and was like, “I don’t know what I’m getting myself into!” But that was where the real dance journey started in terms of training.
Choreographer, Oniel Pryce
NB: What was it like?
OP: Well, the first year was very rough because I was coming in as an inexperienced person and at that time they didn’t have a PQ (Preliminary Qualifying year), so I went straight into first year. And most of the people that I came in with had lots of experience! So it was very difficult for the first year and a lot of people were very negative about me being here and didn’t give me enough encouragement. So, after the first year I decided to prove to myself that I could do it, kind of take it as a challenge to myself. And I improved over the three years - I was doing a Diploma in Education at that time. In my final year, I think it was, I did a show with Neila Ebanks and two other persons. At the time we called ourselves "Four Poor Dancers", and our show was entitled Destination Self, and Professor Nettleford came to the show and asked who I was, and he invited me to work with the NDTC. Before that, I had done a stint with L’Acadco. So I went on to work with the NDTC around 2001, and around 2003 I became interested in doing an exchange programme at Brockport and I was shortlisted and got the opportunity to go and do it for a year and transfer my credits to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance.
NB: What made you choose the education track at EMC and how did that segue into a love of choreography?
OP: To be honest, I cannot recall exactly why I chose education, but in terms of the segue into choreography - again because I was introverted - I wanted a kind of expression that was not me. I wanted to put my ideas onto other bodies. I’ve always considered my dancers the canvas on which I am creating a kind of artwork. To be honest, I do not know exactly when the actual choreographic spark started, I don’t know which piece it started with really, because I’m sure the first few pieces I did were absolute rubbish, but as Jerome Robbins says, in order to make one good piece of choreography you probably have to make 10 bad ones (laughs). It was trial and error in terms of figuring out what kind of process I wanted to engage in and what kind of work I wanted to make. And even now it’s still a difficult process for me because I’m constantly being asked what kind of choreographer I am. But I cannot define myself as a particular kind of choreographer. I prefer to be known as someone who choreographs, because if I say that I’m a certain kind of choreographer it’s as though I’ve set a limit on myself. I do however like to work with physical theatre, post-modern, experimental dance which I don’t think necessarily fits into a Contemporary box. I’m also interested in fusion and I think the kind of work that I make is also influenced by the space that I’m in.