Sharing in Jamaica's 50th anniversary celebrations, the Caribbean's leading dance theatre ensemble, the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), will celebrate its own Golden Anniversary with a special gala opening of its annual Season of Dance today.
The 8 p.m. performance will be held at The Little Theatre, 4 Tom Redcam Avenue, in Kingston, followed at 9.30 p.m. by dinner and dancing with music provided by the Fab 5 Band.
This year, the Company's three-week season will run from Thursdays to Sundays until July 29 at the Little Theatre.
Classic and contemporary
Barry Moncrieffe, NDTC's artistic director, has advised that for its special anniversary, audiences will be treated to a repertoire of classic and contemporary dance works by three of the founding members of the company: the late Professor the Hon Rex Nettleford, The Crossing (1978), a favourite dance-drama among audiences; Bert Rose, Edna M (1987), depicting the life of Jamaican icon Edna Manley, sculptor and animator; and Barbara Requa, Treadmill (1985), which explores the travails of the contemporary Jamaican black woman.
Veteran choreographer Clive Thompson will present his 2005 work Ode, with music by Bob Marley arranged and performed by the Canadian ensemble Prisoners of the System. Former dancer, MoniKa Lawrence, has remounted Identity (1999).
New-generation choreographers Christopher Walker and Kerry-Ann Henry will also remount works, while dance captain and principal dancer Marlon Simms will debut Chromosome X for the 2012 season.
Various 'connections' are significant in the NDTC's nurturing and development since 1962. In this vein, the NDTC season will see performances of Sukari (1980), commissioned by CHASE for the anniversary celebrations, by Eduardo Rivero-Walker, Cuban choreographer of Jamaican parentage, and set to traditional Afro-Cuban (Yoruba) music, which he collected and arranged himself. Originally from the repertoire of the Danza Nacional de Cuba, the dance's six-member cast is consolidated with live music by the NDTC's singers and drummers.
Two male dancers, Delvis Savigne Friñón and Edisnel Rodríguez González, from Rivero-Walker's company Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, will join the NDTC as guest performers for this season.
The season will also debut the all-male dance Siempre Corriendo by Cuban choreographer Ramón Ramos Alayo, and which was commissioned by the NDTC Alumni and Friends in the United States.
Incantation to return
Incantation (2002), a dance by the inventive Haitian choreographer Jean Guy Saintus, drawing on the African-Haitian heritage, will return to the stage this year.
So too, will Labess, choreographed by David Brown, Jamaican international contemporary choreographer and son of G. Arthur Brown (former Governor of the Bank of Jamaica), set to a capella music by the Belgian group Zap Mama.
Under the leadership of musical director Marjorie Whylie, the NDTC Singers and orchestra will present three suites of songs for the 50th anniversary season: Tambo Songs, a representation of death celebrations of Congo origin; some popular Festival Songs created by Jamaicans each year in celebration of their Independence; and as a special Jamaica 50 tribute, the singers will present Di Work, a medley of current Jamaican hits, arranged by NDTC drummer Ewan Simpson, which exposes the singers to new idioms and harmonies.
Tickets for the NDTC's 50th Anniversary Season are available at the Little Theatre Box Office.