NDTC Cofounders Reflect Ahead of 55th Season
The National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) celebrates it 55th anniversary this year, and for the surviving founding members, it is a feat to be proud of.
At the anniversary's recent media launch, The Gleaner, spoke to three of them - Bridget Spaulding, Barry Moncrieffe and Barbara Requa. They shared their high and low points as members of the history-making dance group.
For both Requa and Moncrieff, there were many good memories. One was the places that they have visited.
Moncrieffe said he was able to visit places that "in my private life, I could not go. I have travelled all over the world." He concurred with Requa that the NDTC's tour of Russia was a high point as "they appreciated the arts".
Moncrieffe also added that the trip to Australia was another high point, although it took so long to get there.
Their low points are the clamour for change. They understand and agree that change is necessary but Moncrieffe, who is the current artistic director, believed that there must be continuity, "as sometimes you get carried away with what is current, and the influence from North America".
Requa agreed that change and continuity is important, "but NDTC should never leave and forget the culture. But we must continue to find new ways to explore and present what is its core".
Interestingly, Spaulding's low point was the tours. She explained that dance was a small part of her activities in the NDTC.
"I used to call myself the office; I was the treasurer, the secretary, the manger." So it is no wonder that, for her, the "low point was going away to perform and the people not living up to our expectations and the house were poor. If you do not have a good house then you can't have a good tour".
Her high point, however, was "in the beginning". Most of the other dancers were together before as they danced in a group as well as in the National Pantomime. "And I was the little new one coming from the outside."
The late Rex Nettleford was responsible for recruiting her. Each time they met on the campus of the then University College, he said they should get together to form the company. Finally, the group of 18 met. She described the first meeting as "very casual, nothing formal". They then followed up by structuring it into a company.
Fifty-five years later, Requa, one of the 18, declared, "We have attained this success and we are still at the top of the ladder. And I hope that we will go on from strength to strength. My time will soon be over but the young people coming make me feel real good."