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52 Years Later: Jamaica's National Dance Theatre Company

52 Years Later: Jamaica's National Dance Theatre Company

Posted by Shanelle Weir on July 28, 2014

The objectives set out by the founding fathers of the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) 52 years ago are being upheld by its present crop of dancers and choreographers.

At Friday's opening of its 52nd season of dance, the company chose works which reflected the diversity of the Jamaican society and staying true to roots — to showcase a Jamaican and Caribbean aesthetic — while highlighting its renewal and continuity mantra.

Two works generated the most buzz following the performance — Clive Thompson's Malungu and the new work Traversing : More Than Just Speed Bumps.

Malungu, which continues the NDTC's tradition of dance theatre and telling Jamaican stories, chronicles the life of musical genius Don Drummond. This ballet was first staged last season but returns with new lead dancers to showcase what is a strong work.

Over time this should become one of the company's great works; however, a few kinks in the staging will have to ironed out to achieve a smooth, polished look and feel to the work. The basic structure is there bolstered by a fantastic story; it is now down to execution.

Traversing..., which is choreographed by Oneil Pryce, is a study in athleticism. This new work drew audible gasps from the audience inside the Little Theatre in St Andrew as the dancers leapt and tumbled over and under props on the theatre's stage.

This work could have done with more dancing and was far too similar to Pryce's Barre Talk in its execution and even the colour and design of the costumes.

This aside, one has to appreciate the athleticism and concentration required by the dancers.

The other works showcased were all remounts from the company's active repertoire.

These included Nettleford's Spirits at a Gathering and the perennial Gerrehbenta, which closed the show; Cry of the Spirit, which featured soloist Neisha-yen Jones; and Dimensions, choreographed by Arsenio Andrade-Calderon.

Mention must be made of young dancers Kristina Graham and Kamar Tucker who are definitely talents for the future. Their efforts displayed conviction and passion for what they do. Both dancers held their own amidst the more experienced principal dancers in their midst. Graham was particularly impressive in Traversing..., while Tucker showed his zeal for the art form in Spirits at a Gathering and his contribution to Malungu.

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