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Book on NDTC now available

Published:Sunday | February 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Dance Jamaica: Renewal and Continuity, a pictorial tribute to the last 28 years of the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), is available locally.

The book was released by Ian Randle Publishers last week, shortly after the death of the group's co-founder, Professor Rex Nettleford. The 318-page book has more than 500 black-and-white and colour photographs, all taken by Maria LaYacona, the American who has been the NDTC's official photographer since 1964. It is a follow-up to Dance Jamaica, the 1985 book which covered the first 22 years of the group.

"It's all new photographs, the book really covers the people who have been involved with the company since 1982," LaYacona told The Gleaner on Friday. Nettleford, vice-chancellor emeritus at the University of the West Indies, died Tuesday at George Washington Hospital in Washington DC at age 76. He was admitted there on January 27 after collapsing at a hotel in the United States capital.

Renewal and Continuity was one of Nettleford's last major projects which involved the NDTC. Besides helping to select photos, he wrote the foreword while LaYacona is credited as designer. Renewal and Continuity was also the title of the NDTC's 45th season in 2007. In an interview with The Gleaner, Nettleford spoke about the influx of new dancers into the group he and fellow dancer Eddy Thomas started in September 1962.

creative dance

"It's an exciting period for us," he said. The NDTC is recognised as the Caribbean's leading creative dance group. It has frequently toured the region, North America and Europe.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, the 81-year-old LaYacona first came to Jamaica in 1955 to cover the West Indies cricket team's home series against Australia, for Sports Illustrated. She returned to the country shortly after and has lived in Jamaica since.

Several of the NDTC's acclaimed works such as Dialogue for Three and Plantation Revelry, are included in LaYacona's 1998 book, Jamaica Portraits 1955-1998.