Thu | Aug 22, 2019

NDTC 57th – A season of freshness and excellence

Published:Monday | July 22, 2019 | 12:15 AMMarcia Rowe/Gleaner Writer
‘Beauty Is ...’ choreographed by Hope Boykin
‘Beauty Is ...’ choreographed by Hope Boykin

A defining moment for any successful performing arts company comes when the younger generation is put to the test to prove that they are able to continue the success of their predecessors. The current members of the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) are being placed in such a situation.

On Friday, the opening of their 57th Season, at the Little Theatre, Tom Redcam Drive, the youngsters did so with aplomb, as they showcased a diverse repertoire at the Council of Voluntary Social Services (CVSS) benefit show.

Blood Canticles (1996) and Kumina (1971), choreographed by Rex Nettleford; Unscathed (2015) by Troy Powell; A Breath, We Dance (2018), excerpt from S ouffle #Etenso, by Jeanguy Saintus; and Beauty Is … (2019) choreographed by Hope Boykin, were the five pieces chosen.

In justifying the selections for the first concert for the season, NDTC artistic director Marlon Simms said. “We wanted to show the diversity of our repertoire.”

He believed that the combination of “the old favourites and the new” signalled a successful transition as well as introduced the younger dancers, who are “fitting in to the NDTC space and style”.

DANCE OF PRAISE

Nettleford’s iconic pieces Blood Canticles and Kumina opened and closed, respectively, the fulfilling evening of dance.

Blood Canticles saw the dancers appearing in seven movements, each defined by distinct costumes complementing the appropriate vocabulary of praises from the various religions. It is a dance of praise and begins with a Prologue. Other movements include Z ion Revival, Song for Allah, and Lama Chant.

The challenges that must have accompanied the endless rehearsals were not evident as the young dancers showed their commitment with precision, remarkable body extension and exploring levels and space with sure-footed alacrity.

Kumina was led by two of the veterans in the company, Simms as King and Keitha-Marie Chamberlin Clarke in the role of Queen.

“There is a reverence that I have for role-playing the king.” Simms told The Gleaner. “So,I have not changed anything. I would never try to change Professor’s choreography at all,” Simms said in reference to the late artistic director, Professor Rex Nettleford.

The vocabulary of Kumina is on another level and had four dancers of the previous generation represented in the dance. “We have to be the guardians now and pass it on,” Simms said.

Boykin’s 2019 choreography also passed the test. The creatively choreographed piece saw the company of dancers, in groups and as a whole, demonstrating the multifaceted, multidimensional character traits of beauty described in the spoken words.

Kerry-Ann Henry gave a creditable performance of Saintus’ choreography. It began with a sort of call to action by a maraca bearing dancer, which brought Henry to the stage. The only concern was that the experience was too short.

Performed after a lively rendition from the militantly attired NDTC Singers, the rhythm of fine dancing was just as powerful.

Truly, the rich tradition of the NDTC is alive and well. The season ends on August 11.