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Dance Xpressionz impacting young minds... Three-day production educates, entertains youth

Published:Monday | October 31, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Dance Xpressionz's 'Freedom Fighter'. - photo by Curtis Campbell

Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Popular theatre group Dance Xpressionz educated and entertained students from various high schools across the Corporate Area recently during a three-day production dubbed 'Freedom Fighter', held at the Philip Sherlock Centre, University of the West Indies, Mona.

Students from Kingston College, St Hugh's, Oberlin, Ascot, Holy Trinity, Papine, Queen's and Clan Carthy, accompanied by their teachers, turned out in their numbers over the three days to absorb elements of their culture through the creative arts.

Dance Xpressionz managed to trace dance moves from as early as the 1950s and incorporated them into one package to show the growth of Jamaican culture and pay homage to national hero Sam Sharpe.

The show was divided into two segments. Part one, dubbed 'Freedom Fighter', was a story on National Hero Sam Sharpe. Part two was dubbed 'Evolution of the Jamaican Music and Dance - from Mento to Reggae, and going in depth with dancehall. This 'Evolution' was done in a storytelling form, giving information through all the eras, including the socio-political implications that it had throughout.

Harsh realities

One of the dance pieces that was dedicated to Sam Sharpe showed an example of the harsh realities of colonial society.

Dancers role-played slaves and plantation owners, while Kadeen Wilson (one of the main actors in Ghett A Life) took on the role of Sam Sharpe.

Teaching himself to read, and now armed with certain knowledge, he attempted to convince the slave owners that the slaves deserved wages and better treatment.

In short order, a failed attempt at a riot and the eventual hanging of Sam Sharpe would sum up the first segment of the production.

The second segment was dubbed 'The Revolution of Dancehall Music,' and with an informative script, and a member of Dance Xpressionz dressed as an old man, they managed to teach the students about the transition of Jamaican music, while keeping them entertained.

An extensive acrobatic piece showcasing dances like mento and ska was fully appreciated by the audience.

And as Xpressionz danced through time, there were more uproars and applause from the audience, as they thoroughly enjoyed recent dance moves like Pon Di River, Now You See Me Now You Don't, Skip To My Lou and a new dance created by Dance Xpressionz called Tender Touch.

The Gleaner spoke to 12-year-old Mishae Sharpe of St Hugh's High at the end of the show, and according to the youngster, the event was very informative.

"I like this presentation because it taught me about Sam Sharpe," she said.

Director of Dance Xpressionz, Orville Hall, said it was important to teach the youth about their culture because they would need such information when they represent Jamaica internationally.

"I would not be happy if you came here and did not learn anything today," he said.

The three-day production, which should have ended last Thursday, was held again on Friday due to the overwhelming requests from schools. The event will pay respect to another national hero next year.