Stella Maris, NDTC, Tivoli Gardens Dance Troupe receive Keys to the City
The Stella Maris Dance Ensemble, the National Dance Theatre Company, and the Tivoli Dance Troupe have all received the Keys to the city of Kingston. The dance groups were bestowed the national honour for their contributions to cultural development.
Chief Executive Officer at the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) Robert Hill and Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams made the presentation on Thursday night during the civic ceremony at the annual tree lighting event at the St Williams Grant Park in downtown Kingston.
During the handover, Hill described the groups as "special organisations" that have represented Jamaica well on local and international platforms and were, therefore, well deserving of the honour.
"Whereas the National Dance Theatre Company has been in existence since 1962 and has contributed exemplary cultural value to Jamaica's cultural development, and whereas the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble has been in existence for 32 years and has, likewise, contributed equally to enriching cultural expression through dance, and whereas both groups have received numerous local and international awards, honours, and accolades for many years of performing, and whereas both groups have contributed significantly to the development of youth and communities in the arts, be it resolved that the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal corporation, in highlighting excellence in the performing arts confers the Keys to the City of Kingston on the NDTC and the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble," a part of the citation read.
The citation indicated that the groups were also conferred the Keys to the City based on the contributions of their founders, the late Professor 'Rex' Nettleford and Eddy Thomas from the NDTC, and Monica Lawrence and sister Mary Josephs from Stella Maris.
Co-directors of both organisations Marlon Simms of the NDTC and Monika Lawrence of Stella Maris accepted the awards. Speaking with The Sunday Gleaner, Simms said that he stood tall on the shoulders of the group's founders as he accepted the keys, describing the moment as one he would forever be grateful for. "It's a fantastic feeling, and I'm grateful that they have recognised the Company for its many years of contribution to arts and culture. I stood tall on the shoulders of the co-founders, Rex Nettleford and Eddy Thomas, founding members, bridge generation and the many artists thereafter who have given selflessly to the Company. It's really heartening that the Company has been recognised for its many years of hard work. It is a great encouragement and inspiration to the present body of members who now serve the Company," he said.
Dr Monika Lawrence of Stella Maris also described the accomplishment as an honour, one she never expected. "I feel honoured yet humbled because you are doing something that you have a passion for, and in doing something you really enjoy and that you excel in, it's nice to be recognised. You are doing it and you really don't think anybody is noticing, and you're not looking for awards, you are just doing it because you have the passion," she said. "It's good for someone to see the multiplier effect of what you do because you are touching so many lives. Thirty-two years, it's a lot of young adults that have passed through our hands. From year to year, we progress, and we help these children become a part of a family, and they really grow into themselves with us."
The Tivoli Gardens Dance Troupe was also given the Keys to the City for their more than two decades of service to the Jamaican people in its 27 years of existence. The troupe was lauded for "promoting our culture through the dances and major cultural art forms, and whereas the Tivoli Dance Troupe is committed to the renewal and transmission of Afro-Jamaican culture emphasising the significance of cultural retention, recognising the inherent dignity and creativity as expressed by cultural heritage, and whereas the Tivoli Dance Troupe has maintained its internationally acclaimed status as a beacon for education, entertainment and theatre arts in the Caribbean," their citation read.