2019 National Festival of the Performing Arts ends on high note
The 2019 National Festival of the Performing Arts ended on a high note last week, after hundreds of gold-medal parish finalists from across the island journeyed to Kingston to compete for the national title in the areas of Traditional Folk Forms, Drama, Music, Speech, and Dance. Organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), the competitions were hosted at the Little Theatre.
Traditional Folk and Drama
Performers as young as six years old competed in the National Traditional Folk Forms in traditional performance categories – Gerreh, Maypole, Dinki Mini, Ettu, Ring Games and Quadrille – both Contra and Camp Style. Liberty Learning Centre (Portland), Middle Quarters Primary (St Elizabeth), and Kidz Palace Nursery (St James) stood out during the two-day competition.
When Drama got into motion, Mona Preparatory School walked away with multiple awards for their play Weather or Not. Some of their awards included: Best Overall Costume; Best Script; and Best Overall Director, which went to their teacher, Brian Johnson. Young actor Damijae McCalla, who played the role of the prosecutor in the play, also won Best Overall Actor.
Best Ensemble Acting went to Tacky High School out of St Mary, for their production Ring Games, which fell under the Experimental category, while Best Overall Design went to Manchester-based DeCarteret College, which also won an award for Best Overall Technical Management, among others.
In the speech category, best overall winners included: Courtney Greaves out of Kingston and St Andrew, who got the overall award for Best Female Solo Costume for her standard English poem, Black. Best Male Solo Costume went to Oraine Meikle from the group DREDZ for his dub poetry piece Big Sinting, while Best Ensemble Costume was awarded to Mt Alvernia High School
for their Experimental Dub Poetry Ensemble, Ban.
Most Outstanding Female Presentation went to Ngosi Wright for her Jamaican poem Mi Waan Di Visa, and she was also recipient of the Louise Bennett Award for Best Jamaican Speech Presentation. Most Outstanding Male Presentation was awarded to Damijae McCalla out of Mona Preparatory School.
Kingston-based Jamnique Ensemble dominated the Drum Fest competition, wowing audiences and judges and sweeping the overall awards for the third consecutive year. Other outstanding performances in the Music National Finals came from Erica Lumsden of Port Maria High in the category of Vocal Gospel, who gave a powerful rendition of His Eye is on the Sparrow, and Maylyn Dillon from Alpha Primary School in Kingston in the category of Jazz and Blues, whose rendition of Feeling Good enthralled the audiences. Both young women were previous winners of the JCDC’s National Children’s Gospel Song Competition and demonstrated impressive vocal range and stage presence.
The Performing Arts National Finals ended with the Dance National Finals, which ended with the annual Deaf Dance Festival.
An effort of the JCDC and Jamaica Association for the Deaf, the annual Deaf Dance Festival brought together deaf dancers from across the island to showcase their talents. Deaf Dance 2019 awardees include the Abilities Foundation from Kingston and St Andrew, for their Popular Dance piece Swagg; St Christopher’s School for the Deaf, for their Praise Dance Junior entry Testimony, and Port Antonio Unit for the Deaf in the category of Duet Intermediate for Dance With Me. The Dance National Finals also saw outstanding performances from Kingston and St Andrew’s renowned Tivoli Dance Troupe, with their Creative Folk piece Pitchierama, which was expertly performed and met with thunderous applause; and Mt Alvernia High School, which showed off their Creative Folk piece Hujambo, displaying excellent form aligned with powerful drums in a tribal discotheque.
“Looking back at the extensive selection process and all the time, energy and care committed by the parishes, I cannot help but be proud of the JCDC for what we continue to accomplish. The aim of the JCDC is to unearth, develop, showcase and preserve Jamaican culture, and looking at the performances at the 2019 staging of this competition, I would say we have accomplished just that,” said Daffodil Thompson, interim executive director at the JCDC.
She expressed a sense of pride with how well the participants did across the board. “It is not just the adults who brought out the big guns, but even the little ones. Throughout the festival, there were performances by small children, who gave the impression they have been honing their craft for years. I am especially happy to see our nation’s youth bearing an interest in festival; it inspires a special kind of national pride.”