Barbara Ellington, Public Affairs Editor
The National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) has two reasons to celebrate its upcoming season this year. Like Jamaica, the company marks 50 years of existence and plans to commemorate the achievement in a big way. Tuesday night saw the company putting some final touches to some of the pieces that it will stage for the Fiftieth Anniversary Gala on Saturday night at the Little Theatre, Tom Redcam Avenue.
In reflections with The Gleaner on the passage of the years and the growth of the NDTC, founding members Bridgette Spaulding, Barry Moncrieffe and Bert Rose were in unison about one sentiment: "It had been a great experience." Moncrieffe, who has 'reluctantly' filled artistic director/founder, the late Rex Nettleford's shoes, said he hoped the young people who now largely comprise the company will be as committed as they were in the past 50 years.
"It is a miracle that we have survived, particularly because we have done it voluntarily every year. The dancers do not get paid and nowadays it's hard to keep them for the long run. Professionals go off abroad or into teaching posts, or on the north coast to find employment," he noted. Of the original founders, still alive, the three are not about to quit any time soon. Spaulding was busy doing some of everything behind the scenes in preparation for the season. Moncrieffe was focused on the action on stage while Rose mulled over last-minute details of the gala.
"It is challenging to maintain the spirit of volunteerism," Spaulding said, noting that dancers must support themselves. For this reason, she urges everyone to purchase tickets for the season which ends July 29.
"It is a joyful time for me," Moncrieffe said. "I feel the hard work of the dancers, and from this milestone season I want our audiences to take a sense of our dedication, willingness to serve, our professionalism and pride. If as a country we can produce something that has sustained itself so long, can you imagine what more we could achieve?"
The only damper on the momentous occasion was being omitted from the official calendar of events marking the island's celebrations of Jamaica 50. Something the trio hopes did not make their beloved founder turn in his grave.
Bert Rose of Rose & Company is spearheading the festivities that will accompany Saturday's opening night. The programme starts with cocktails followed by the performance and then dinner and dancing. The team thanks: Scotiabank, Lithographic Printers, the CHASE Fund, Supreme Ventures, the Rex Nettleford Foundation and others who have sponsored the season. The season will see alumni and friends from overseas returning home for the event, as well as the only living patron, former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, Prime Minster Portia Simpson Miller and Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips heading the guest list.
Tickets for the season are on sale at the theatre.