Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
One of the most cherished moments in a performer's life is the opportunity to perform to a very appreciative audience. To also be acclaimed outstanding at the same event, of course, puts the icing on the cake.
So it was last Friday for participants who represented the parishes of Kingston and St Andrew (KSA) in the Jamaica Culture Development Commission's (JCDC) Festival of the Performing Arts. And not only did they give competitive performances but the outstanding ones were recognised with trophies.
The programme, organised by the JCDC's KSA office, was dubbed 'Evening of Excellence'.
The venue was the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre and the performers, who spanned a wide age group (from basic-school to tertiary-school level, along with community groups), executed their selections of speeches, dances and songs with spirit, clarity and confidence.
Each group or individual, for the most part, wore smartly, colour-fully designed costumes influenced by Jamaica's 50th anniversary.
Outstanding musical pieces
Among the groups performing excellent musical items was a group of students from the Kingston-based Camperdown High School.
The group was subdivided into two female vocalists, a band comprising of a keyboard and percussion drum, complete with a lead, male vocalist. Combined, the promising musicians gave excellence a professional flavour. The confident lead singer chit-chatted with his audience before launching into the group's Should I medley.
The medley included songs from the likes of Dennis Brown, Bob Marley and Beres Hammond.
Other musical selections came from St Peter Claver Primary, Chi Chi Bud; Mona Preparatory, Banana medley; Pembroke Hall Primary, Step Up medley, and Cockburn Gardens Primary and Junior High with a drumming piece titled 'A Drumming Nice'.
Electrifying dance pieces
A large number of items on the programme came from the dance category. Spanning different genres of dances, as expected, the dancers' movements and costumes were equally colourful.
The Queen's Preparatory School captured the gospel genre with a piece titled Everything in Praise. Jamaica House Basic School saluted and delighted their parents with The Tribe, while Half-Way Tree Primary School captured the essence of the ring game.
Fusing contemporary songs with ring game jingles, they emanated high energy from beginning to end with Ska Daddle.
The high schools were not to be outdone.
Immaculate High gave pop dance to the dolls in Revenge of the Dolls. But even more unforgettable was Ardenne High Dance Troupe's Synergy.
Wearing unitards, the group of dancers moved with precision and timing to show entangled limbs and some nice body extensions.
Undeniably the best of the items performed came in the speech category.
Creatively written and wittily delivered, the pieces explored a wide range of themes. The Calabar Primary and Junior High entrant was hilarious with her "duppy" story titled Nuh Seh Yuh Gone.
Jahzan McClaughlin represented Jessie Ripoll Primary with a marvellous performance of Mek Dem Talk, likewise was Darien Reid of Ardenne High with Mi Nuh Bathe.
Also giving creditable performances were Jamiela Simpson with Visa Saga and senior citizen Doris Gordon with three Louise Bennett poems. Franklin Town Church of God Basic School's House of Culture is worthy of mentioning.
But it was the Meadowbrook High ladies who had the audience in stitches with their poem titled Special/Ignorant Parents.
Costumed to the hilt, the group of talented students delivered their lines with attitude, full understanding and clarity. And for their splendid performance they were awarded the trophy for the Most Outstanding Speech Item.
Meadowbrook High also received the trophy for Highest Gold Award for 2012. But it was Ardenne High that took home the largest number of trophies, approximately eight.
Other recipients of trophies were Tivoli High, DÓro Dance Company, Campion College, RJR Basic School, Mona Preparatory, Excelsior Community College and the Institute of Jamaica.
Rasheen Roper, Miss Kingston and St Andrew Festival Queen 2012 was the MC.
She told The Gleaner her reign was going well. She is also back in training for the upcoming National Festival Queen Competition and is looking forward to the competition.
She hopes she "will be able to take the crown and continue to serve her country in the capacity of Festival Queen 2012". She promised to reign with humility and pride.