Tue | Jan 21, 2020

For the Reckord | Contrasting intentions by Tivoli, L'Acadco dancers

Published:Friday | July 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMMichael Reckord/Gleaner Writer
The Ting Tots of Tivoli Dance Troup dancing in Morphe.
Tivoli Dance Troupe in a dance of praise.
Feluke and Emprezz were commentators between the L' Acadco pieces.
Dr L'Antoinette Stines addressing the audience.

The past weekend gave fans of the terpsichorean art a chance to see two well-established dance groups in concert - the Tivoli Dance Troupe at the Little Theatre, and L'Acadco: A United Caribbean Dance Force at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts (PSCCA).

The producers of both shows should have been happy with the enthusiastic response of their audiences, that would have left them with a feeling of 'mission accomplished'. But since the concerts were very different in tone, content and execution, the question "What was each producer's intention?" needs to be asked.

It's a paraphrase of the first of the three questions that German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe famously said should be asked by any art critic - "What is the artist trying to do?" His other questions are: "How well was the work done?" and "Was it worth doing?"


Tivoli Dance Troupe-Encore


The producers state in the Tivoli Dance Troupe programme, "We dance because it's what we love to do." But they clearly staged the concert, Encore, which marked their 27th season of dance, to entertain.

What was clear that from the point of view of the audience - apparently mainly friends and relatives of the dozens of dancers on stage - Encore was well done and worth doing. So there are the answers to Goethe's second and third questions.

The dancers ranged from the very young to adult, as is indicated by the names of the groupings - Tigi Tots, Weeny Tots, Juniors and Seniors. The first two groups danced as would be expected - with lots of energy and little coordination. But I saw evidence of strong talent in many of the juniors and seniors.

All the dances were beautifully costumed, with my favourite being the costumes for Morph, which showed caterpillars becoming butterflies. The team of choreographers included Robertha Daley, Jodi Ann Douglass, Suberina Gabriel, Everol Hutchinson and Nickolas McPherson.

Many of the concert's 29 items were entered in the 2018 JCDC Dance Competitions, where they earned, among other things: 19 gold medals; 18 Most Outstanding Class awards; the Ivy Baxter Award for Most Outstanding Junior Studio Group; and the Rex Nettleford Award for Excellence (Senior Studio Group). The pieces had names as cheerful as the dancers - Folk Fiesta, Jollification, Tribute, Hope, Glory Glory, Jazz Ahoy, Vibez and Buss Out.


From L'Acadco, with love


L'Acadco: A United Caribbean Dance Force, celebrated its 35th anniversary with the weekend's three-day dance season called Daaancing Crystals. Founder and artistic director Dr L'Antoinette Stines was very upfront about the company's intention and added a subtitle, "a special love experience."

In the programme, she writes, "Our ultimate goal is to use the performing arts as an avenue for personal and professional development in the lives of persons who have been marginalised ..." And thinking big, she adds, "Now is the time for the expansion of this system to empower thousands and not just our company members."

That message of love and empowerment will be taken overseas when the company goes on a tour that will include Cuba, Belize and Canada. And the message will surely resound from the overseas stages as powerfully as it did at the PSCCA on Sunday, when the superb show ended with an emotional Dr Stines praying while the audience held hands.

The show's creators paid attention to all the important components. The technical ones like lighting, sound and costumes, and the artistic ones - the choreography and theme of the dances. Preceding those, of course, was the training of the dancers for the two years since the last season - they're now in tip-top shape and on Sunday every movement was magic in motion.

While it seemed that the choreographers - Dr Stines, her daughter, Amanyeah, Orville McFarlane, Oneil Pryce, Renee McDonald and Jessica Shaw - generally focused on giving aural and visual pleasure with the nine dances on the programme (together with three exciting drum sessions), there were a couple of dances which were disturbing.

One was McDonald's Heavy, the other was Dr Stines' Womb Screams. The former - about the burden of depression shows three men in black strangling and otherwise brutalising three women. It is violently graphic.

So is Stines' bloody piece (danced by Aaliyah Hall) about a woman having a miscarriage in a bath pan. Both were gut-wrenching, but it was easy to connect them to the show's broad theme of love.