Writer/Dancer Nicole Bain
Nicole Bain gives us her critique on the latest latest performance of the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble
Last weekend, the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble presented its 17th season of dance in dedication to the memory of former Artistic Director of the NDTC, the late Professor the Hon. Rex Nettleford. It featured two of his works and four others choreographed by Abeldo 'Tokie' Gonzales and Dr. Monika Lawrence, Artistic Director of Stella Maris; both were former dancers with the NDTC. The evening opened with “Dis Poem”, choreographed in 1989 by Nettleford and remounted by D’Roi Rose. In the first section the dancers, clad in light grey sweat suits with red, green and gold stripes emblazoned across their chests, moved militantly to the spoken word of Mutabaruka.
Learn about our Cultural Tours
They danced the frustrations of a race of people denied the right to exist freely, effectively brought across by Nettleford’s use of stark, clipped movement, and the dancers’ emotiveness. In the second section, soloist Gavin Hart gave a solid and committed performance. The piece ended with a hopeful final movement which was strong, jubilant and fluid, marred only by the occasional overdone facial expression from one or two of the performers.
Next up was the new work ‘Supernova’ by Abeldo ‘Tokie’ Gonzales. This was an ambitious number in concept but fell somewhat short in execution. The piece opened with an athletic solo, danced brilliantly by Kamar Tucker. However the strong build up was quickly followed by a visually overwhelming mass of dancers moving through the space and struggling to keep up with the pace of the choreography. When working with a large group, clean lines, synchronicity and attention to the nuances of the music are a must for effective communication, and unfortunately in this piece these elements needed refining. However there were some spectacular moments, such as the forming of a human trampoline which released Mr Tucker into the air like an exploding star - the supernova. Also interesting was the choreographer’s melding of gymnastics, contemporary movement and break dancing.
Tribute to Cliff
On August 1, Jamaica celebrated Emancipation Day. On August 6 we celebrated Independence Day. The National Dance Theatre Company performances are part of that celebratory season. Dancer/writer Nicole Bain reviews the Emancipation Day performance. (Photos contributed by NDTC.)
Dancer Chris Walker
The National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) continues its season of dance with a suite of offerings from various choreographers including Patrick Earle, Arsenio Andrade-Calderon, Christina Gonzalez and, importantly, former Artistic Director, the late Professor the Honourable Rex Nettleford. The programme performed on August 1 was aptly chosen by Barry Moncrieffe - NDTC icon and Nettleford's successor - to reflect the Emancipation and Independence celebrations. It featured various aspects of the Jamaican historical experience focusing primarily on religion.
On Emancipation Day the show opened with Form in Fusion, created by company member Patrick Earle and danced by the company. The new work which explored the traditional folk form Kumina was a wonderful blend of simple movement and intricate floor patterns and shapes which were best seen from the balcony. The female dancers demonstrated a regal beauty as they inched forward, hips swaying almost imperceptibly. Three of them in particular demonstrated great control and concentration as they successfully executed a series of movements including a full split while balancing oil lamps on their heads. At times the company members displayed a trance-like intensity as they moved to the traditional music of the NDTC drummers and singers. For the most part their movement was subtle, dignified and controlled. And then suddenly, with only the slightest musical warning, they would twirl around ecstatically, only to catch themselves and continue on in solemn procession. The costumes were a beautiful addition to this well-crafted piece whose only flaw was that it needed greater synchronicity.
A solo excerpt from Professor Nettleford's Islands followed. This was danced by Kevin Moore, clad in full black with a red cloth wrapped around his body which would later become a prop. Mr. Moore possesses the assets of strength and natural flexibility, and danced with a great deal of commitment to the piece; however his execution felt heavy and disjointed in places. As such the solo fell short of its potential. The motivation for the piece was also hard to glean because of its lack of inclusion in the written programme.
L-R: Alaine Grant, Keita-Marie Chamberlain, Natalie Chung, Deborah Powell-Valentino, and Kerry-Ann Henry
L-R: David Blake, Marlon Simms, Marc Hall and Chris Walker