Thu | May 24, 2018

NDTC appoints Simms as artistic director

Published:Sunday | February 4, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Marlon Simms in Leni Wylliams 'Sweet in the Morning'.
Marlon Simms
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The National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) has announced the appointment of Marlon Simms as its new artistic director.

Taking up the post in January of this year, Simms becomes the fourth artistic director of the NDTC since it was co-founded by Rex Nettleford and Eddy Thomas with 16 other founding members in 1962.

He succeeds veteran dancer, choreographer, and costume designer Barry Moncrieffe, who retired at the end of 2017 after 55 years of sterling service to the Company. The late Professor the Hon Rex Nettleford shared the role with Eddy Thomas at the company's inception, and he served as artistic director until his sudden death in 2010.

Speaking to the appointment, Barry Moncrieffe said: "Marlon has worked with great passion and tenacity in several leadership roles within the NDTC over many years. He has been groomed for the role, and I know he will do a good job with the support of the rest of the Company. I offer hearty congratulations to him and assure him that he has my continuing support."

Simms joined the NDTC in 1999 as a supporting dancer and quickly established himself as a leading male dancer and promising choreographer. A consummate artist, he is celebrated for many leading roles in the Company's wide repertoire, including Rex Nettleford's [Kumina[ and [The Crossing], Clive Thompson's [Of Sympathy and Love], and [Vision]; and Leni Wylliams' [Sweet in the Morning].

Over 19 years, he toured extensively with the NDTC to the United States, England, and the Caribbean region and worked his way up to the leadership positions of dance captain in 2006 and associate artistic director in 2014. He is also co-producer of the NDTC Journal and head of the NDTC Trainee Programme and Education Arm.

His regional interest in developing dance has resulted in numerous choreographic works for the NDTC and other dance companies, schools and studio groups. Simms has conducted workshops, made presentations, and given lecture demonstrations on dance and the NDTC style and collaborated in dance works and productions involving Jamaica, Colombia, Antigua, and Belize.

The new artistic director said that he is honoured and humbled by the appointment. "I stand on the shoulders of the founders, bridge generation, and the many who served after them and am grateful for the love and support of the members of the company. Their continuing support will keep me anchored in this new role and will keep the NDTC moving forward," he said.

 

DRIVEN BY PASSION

 

Simms says that his approach to this new role will be in line with what he describes as his mantra - that "excellence can be achieved if you are driven by passion and purpose".

"As artistic director, I hope to carry on the traditions of the Company through its local and overseas performance with its central focus on exploring, experimenting, interrogating Jamaican and Caribbean movement patterns, music and culture, and creating works of excellence comparable to any across the world," he added.

Simms also shared as some of his top priorities for the NDTC to strengthen and develop the technical skills of the Company's artists and trainees through a wide range of training and experiences; expand the company's education arm by increasing the number of workshops locally; and a local tour of the Company to rural communities.

He also hopes to add to the wide-ranging repertoire new and exciting works created by diverse choreographers from Jamaica and the diaspora and says that he will work to forge new relationships with various stakeholders to support various performance, and community-based projects of the company.

Simms is currently director of studies at the School of Dance and served as head of the Education Board of Studies at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA). A past student of St Jago High School, he holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in English from The University of the West Indies, a postgraduate Diploma in Education (Dip. Ed.) from the University of Technology, Jamaica, and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Choreographic Theory and Practice from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.