Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
"Meadowbrook Preparatory School (MPS) is on a path of excellence". So said Leila Palmer, chairman of the school's board, before cutting the symbolic ribbon to signal the launch of the school's dance troupe. The Evening of Excellence: Launching of the Meadowbrook Preparatory School Dance Troupe, took place on Saturday; two months shy of the school's 50th anniversary, January 16, 2011.
The lengthy but entertaining programme saw some presentations from guest performers, the tiny tot, intermediate and junior MPS dance groups; and the talented MPS' speech and drama group.
Perched on a long bench and a stool, seemingly for elevation, the first taste of the MPS' speech and drama group came in the form of a talented group of boys with mature sounding vocals. They had the audience sitting up as they stoutly declared that MPS is ready: "Mi ready, dis a school come fi mash up di place; wi ready like Freddie."
And so it was now up to the dancers to demonstrate how ready they were to have a dance troupe. And for the most part, they showed that they were.
In colourful costumes, fantastic millineries and bearing props, they had their relatives, teachers and friends beaming with pride, as they portrayed their journey in creative folk, popular dance, modern contemporary, and praise and worship genres.
The first dance, dubbed Dance Prayer, was choreographed by Arlene Richards, retired member of the National Dance Theatre Company. The dance featured students of all levels, from the tiny tots to the juniors, costumed in full white.
But it was Orville McFarlane's choreography, titled Our Roots, that brought on the colours.
Costumed in a wide assortment of colours, the young performers traversed some of Jamaica's folk forms. McFarlane, who is the dance teacher at the institution, was responsible for most of the choreography. He took his charges through the popular dance genre with Poppin; in the modern dance category there were Paradox and Movements, and his most memorable piece of the night Hallelujah Times, in the praise and worship category.
The finale, performed by the dance troupe, and choreographed by McFarlane, was dance fittingly to the words, "I will sing unto the Lord a new song."
It was an ecstatic and greatly satisfied principal, Gloria Francis, who spoke to The Gleaner after the launch.
She noted that the Evening of Excellence will become a fixture on the MPS' calendar of events. While not sure of the date, she knows that it will be held sometime in the Christmas term around November and December. And when asked if the Meadowbrook High School Auditorium, located in Kingston 19, will remain the venue, Francis replied, "we will continue here until we outgrow the space."
However, Francis may have to act soon as McFarlane plans for next year's show includes more lights and special effects. McFarlane, also, while happy at the outcome of the show, cited a few of the challenges experienced in the process. "It was tiresome, interruption of rehearsals due to the weather, and at times the students missed rehearsals (for varied reasons)."
Among the invited guests were Stars Academy, BaSis Ensemble, Paula Brown Powell and the Meadowbrook High School Steel Band that gave a scintillating performance. Completing a rather entertaining evening was Celia Marie French Martin. She was witty and engaging and executed the spot-prize fillers with creativity.