Wycliffe Bennett, Contributor
Members of the National Dance Theatre Company in movement. -Photos by Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer
I wish to support the robust response of thanks and praises for the National Dance Theatre Company's (NDTC) 'Tribute To Abolition' at the launch of the company's 45th annual mini-season before a near capacity audience at the Little Theatre on Friday, July 20. The show is loaded with performing artistes of unmistakable talent and showcases efforts that define our Jamaican individuality.
I have been a devotee of the company and have been privileged to monitor its growth and development since its inception.
Forty-five years ago, on September 19, 1962, your newspaper reported on the launch of the company as follows:
"Jamaica now has a national dance company. It was announced yesterday by Messrs Rex Nettleford and Eddy Thomas, two of our leading choreographers and dancers, that the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica has been formed, with a nucleus of the 15 best male and female dancers from the major dance groups of Jamaica.
"They will work together now to bring to the public regular performances of works based on the many legends and folklore customs which abound in Jamaica.
"According to the spokesman for the group, dance, as an art form in Jamaica, is now sufficiently developed to be the means of projecting the movement patterns and customs of the island to people locally and abroad.
"Thus, the national company will maintain constant research and documentation of our folk legends and customs to be used as thematic material for new dances."
The greatness of the company lies primarily in its faithfulness to its own goals by using local themes and legends to achieve its own special contribution to the universality of the dance. Whatever the NDTC has used from whatever culture, whether European, Asian or African or native West Indian, it has made inevitably its own. Some of these compositions like 'The Crossing', 'Gerrehbenta', 'Kumina', 'Pocomania' and 'Bruckins', which help to tell the Jamaican story, have become classics and a source of inspiration.
In addition to the contributions of Professor Nettleford and Eddy Thomas there are, of course, the works of such performing and creative artistes as Sheila Barnett, Barbara Requa, Clive Thompson, Marjorie Whylie and the musicians and singers - together providing a cornucopia of riches.
The show continues Wednesdays to Saturdays until August 12.