Kesi Asher, Staff Reporter
Members of Dance Expressions fuse dance and drama at the May 25, 'Backyaad Crack Up'. - WINSTON SILL/FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER
DANCE EXPRESSIONS has danced its way to fame with its strong dance routines.
The group is known for its performance in Elephant Man's Mix Up Medley, Shaggy and Rik Rok's Her Eyes, Vybz Kartel's Bus It Off and Jimmy Cliff's September 11. The group has also appeared in music videos done by TOK and Nikki B and is a regular act at the monthly comedy series Backyaad Crack Up.
Dance Expressions has five members and is actually a part of a company called Theatre Expressions, with seven additional members. The members of Dance Expressions are Amoy Taylor, Sherene Davis, Shelly-Ann Callum, Stacey-Ann Facey and Orville Hall. The additional members for Theatre Expressions are Oneil Tobias, Nacole Trowers, Theresa Baker, Thialdra Baker, Sherice Wheeler, Donnia Clarke and Courtney Wilson.
Hall said "the performances by Theatre Expressions have a roots feel to it, because they deals with what is Jamaican. However, they still have elements of theatre".
Dance Expressions has been performing widely over the five years of its existence and has won Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) national trophies for dance, speech and drama every year since 1999. The group entered the festival through the Excelsior Community College, where members did the associate degree in the performing arts.
Orville Hall teaches dance, voice and speech and drama at the college. Two of the members have put some of their eggs in another basket as Hall and Shelly-Ann Callum are the principal dancers in the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble. In addition, Hall is a junior choreographer with that group. The Stella Maris Dance Ensemble has toured Spain and Japan, as well as Dallas and Los Angeles in the United States, among other places.
"The group has been doing well and we have performed extensively," explained group leader Hall. In 2004, the group performed with Rik Rok at the Heineken House Party, held at the Hedonism Hotel. Shelly-Ann Callum, one of the lead dancers, toured with Shaggy in 2001, and the dance segment of the French leg of that tour was choreographed by Hall. In January of this year, they performed with Jimmy Cliff at Rebel Salute, held at Port Kaiser in St. Elizabeth.
Dance Expressions are also the featured dancers on Yaad Flex, a show on TVJ each Saturday.
At present Dance Expressions is gearing up to do a another video, Tears, with TOK, and a gospel show in the last week in November in Miami, which Stitchie will headline.
"A number of our dancehall steps can be traced to our traditional dances like Kumina, Bruckins and Dinky Mini," said Orville Hall. "We have merged dancehall with traditional folk form because of how some people perceive dancehall as bawdy in the relation to the dance."
Not only do they add traditional dances, but contemporary ones also. "We are merging all these steps, modern contemporary dancehall and even Latin. We are crossing over with different genres of music. Once you can find a way to merge without losing the cultural flavour, it will have an international appeal," he said.