Sat | Apr 4, 2020

COVID-19 forces NDTC Easter Sunday concert cancellation

Published:Thursday | March 26, 2020 | 12:05 AMMarcia Rowe/Gleaner Writer
Marlon Simms performs ‘Vignettes: Now is the Season’ at the National Dance Theatre Company’s Morning of Movement and Music at the Little Theatre in April 2009.
Members of the NDTC performing an excerpt of ‘Blood Canticles’ at A Morning of Music and Movement 2019, held at the Little Theatre on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019.
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FOR A number of Jamaicans, the annual journey to the Little Theatre to experience the National Dance Theatre Company’s (NDTC) Easter Sunday Morning of Movement and Music is akin to making a pilgrimage. Overall, the classical, reflective, nostalgic pieces helped with the perception of the season. Performances for this early-morning collage would come from the NDTC dancers and singers. Alas, this will not be the case for Easter 2020.

Like all social events and activities, in Jamaica and the world, the Sunday concert has fallen prey to the global pandemic, COVID-19. And for the first time in 39 years, the annual event, scheduled for April 12, has been cancelled.

“We had to secure the health of the company and members, and their families, and so we make the decision that is in the best interest of the company, and to support the Government in fighting the virus,” NDTC artistic director Marlon Simms told The Gleaner.

“Our last event was Jamaica Dance Umbrella, and we were going right into rehearsals for our Easter event, and then COVID-19 ended up on our [Jamaica’s] shores. And in order to prepare for that [the Easter event], we would have to be in rehearsal right now,” Simms said.

“Being unable to meet, we had to look at our calendar and have had to make adjustment to our schedule,” he continued.

Simms said he supports the Jamaican Government’s response and directive in banning all social gatherings, with a call to practise social distancing and proper hygiene, to stop the spread of the deadly virus. He also believes that the advice has helped to calm the nation.

DIFFERENT TYPE OF REST

The artistic director is also aware that his dancers miss the rigour and challenges, and the family bond of dance classes, in spite of having time to rest, as this, he said, is a different type of rest.

His advice to them is “to watch what they eat, as keeping healthy is also important. They should continue stretching at home, doing online dance classes, try to stay in shape and stay connected”.

The choreographer said he, too, misses going to rehearsals but there were other methods of engagement. He now has the chance to address his administrative duties, and finding and posting comical and dance videos that promote laughter, on various social platforms.

Simms is hopeful, too. “We are interested to see what type of creativity will come from this period … a resurgence of hope. The isolation will put a different perspective on their [NDTC dancers and singers’] reconnection. So, the focus will be … celebratory.”

The celebration may be shown in NDTC’s 2020 concert season. To date, it has not been cancelled, as Simms said they are in a wait-and-see mode. “We have to go to plan B, plan B, plan B. But now the focus is on health, as without health we will not be able to do what we love.”