Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
On Sunday, The National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) held its 50th Anniversary Award Ceremony for members and sponsors.
It was an evening of pleasantries marked by cocktails, prayer, a musical presentation and brief speeches.
The venue for the ceremony was Mona Visitors' Lodge & Conference Centre, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.
Well after its scheduled starting time, the award ceremony got under way with the playing of the national anthem. This was followed by an invocation from the Reverend Ralph Hoyt. The master of ceremony was Norma Brown-Bell. She began her opening remarks with a tribute to NDTC's founder and former artistic director, the late Professor Rex Nettleford.
Guest speaker, and chairman of the Little Theatre Movement, Barbara Gloudon, continued in the same vein. Wrapped with light humour, she too paid tribute to Nettleford.
However, the essence of her message was more profound, as she challenged the NDTC family to take action.
"The point I want to make tonight is where are we going? So much of what we have become over the years has rested on one man. Many of us cannot move further than where Rex was. But inevitably the ink is going to fade on the paper and we will have to move on," she said.
Subsequently, Gloudon spoke of ways to move on. At the heart of the solution is integrity. She explained that integrity will develop with repetition and research.
The need for patience
However, the guest speaker was mindful of the difficulty to impress on our young the meaning of the word integrity when they live in a world that tells them otherwise. And so, to the young dancers, she implored them to be patient.
"A dance has to be built with care. They must also have the courage to destroy and build again."
Gloudon also advised that fund-raising for the company should be based more on scholarship and fellowship. She implored the company never to lose its high standards and to bring up a new generation that was proud to be part of the NDTC.
Gloudon's speech was followed by presentations of awards to members in three categories: Current Members -1999 - 2012, members who have contributed 15 - 39 years and members who have contributed 40 to 50 years. Companies and institutions who have given support to the company from 1962-2012 were also recipients of plaques.
Among the recipients were NDTC dancers Terry-Ann Dennison (1999- 2012) and Marlon Simms (15-39). The Gleaner tapped the thoughts of both dancers after they received their awards.
For Simms, it was a surreal experience, having received his first award from the company. He enjoyed the happening in spite of missing "the Professor".
"I am very, very happy for how the evening has turned out," said Simms
In the absence of artistic director Barry Moncrieffe, who was ill, Simms was asked to give the vote of thanks, leaving some to wonder if he could be the next artistic director.
"I don't think this is any indication of the future. I take one day at a time. I have been asked to give this vote of thanks and I take it for what it is," said Simms.
Dennison was also delighted at receiving her award. But what does she want to see from the company over the next 50 years?
"I have been a part of something that is historical and great and I do want to see the continuation." But she also wants the incorporation of younger minds in the administration and, perhaps, a change in choreography that will reflect the period and time.
Finally, the fine family gathering concluded with a musical presentation from Harold Davis, who began his stint with Book of Rules. He also thrilled the audience with Fly Away Home, Rivers of Babylon and other songs.
Among the other songs was a beautiful rendition of The Prayer, with assistance from Carole Reid.