From the stage to the page: L'Antoinette Stimes pens 'Soul Casing'
Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
Getting started with a simple yet elegantly decorated pre-event cocktail on the lawns of the venue, it paved the way for the exhilarating show that followed.
The red velvet stage curtains opened to reveal the author and some members of the dance company in a James Bond-like tableau. When the lights came up, they broke rank, L'Antoinette Stines headed to her seat, and the dancers made their exit through the wings. They would emerge several times after with other members to illustrate, through dance, the various chapters of the book.
The prolific choreographer and author, now seated, explained that in Soul Casing, she recreated the journey of developing the L'Antech, a Caribbean contemporary dance technique. Then it was on to one of several great features of the programme, narration from the unseen Amina Blackwood-Meeks.
Blackwood-Meeks' opening line was an attention-grabbing icebreaker. She announced: "We interrupt the World Cup for you to come and look … ."
She continued by providing clarity to the title of the book with a Junior Gong quote, "The body is just a beacon transporting the soul, and what's inside a beacon is a beauty to behold." And when Jamaica's number one storyteller asked the audience, "When last did you look into your soul case?" an understanding of the title became clear.
As the fascinating programme unfolded, dances from various L'Acadco seasons were used to highlight each chapter. Kongo Kumina, which premiered earlier this year and was choreographed by Dr Stines, was fittingly used to illustrate Chapter One, 'The Trod'.
Chapter Two, 'Suss', was illustrated with Quilted Memories; Chapter Three, 'Does An Anglophone Carimod Technique Exist?', was shown in L'Antech Meets Reggae, and so the programme continued. But it was the energetic dance, Ruckumbine, that was used to reinforce the final chapter, number 10, that had the full house asking for an encore. The dance choreographed in 1995 and reworked in 2012 and 2014 commenced with a streetside scene followed by a parade of this year's Festival Queen finalists.
There was a shift to a dancehall setting for the last motif, which saw characters clad in the relevant costumes with a sound system operator. The dance is choreographed to a medley of Jamaican songs.
Another innovative aspect to the launch was to have persons affiliated with the process of producing and publishing the book joining Stines at intervals on stage.
Nelia Ebanks opened the account. Her role was to generate the answer to some intriguing features of the book, like why the glossary was at the front of the book, title selection and more.
With regards to the title, Stines explained that Soul Casing was chosen from among 20. Its advantage was that it was received in a dream. Her placement of the glossary to the front of the text was because of her use of a number of personally coined words such as 'synerbridging'. The word, in part, means "bridging cultures, synergising movements that bridge cultures".
Stines later shared with The Gleaner how pleased she was with the turnout, although earlier she was somewhat apprehensive. However, she could not have launched a book about dance without bringing it to life, as that would "make no sense".
She also explained that the idea of writing the book came from her experience of writing her thesis for her PhD, along with the need for a text for students who sit theatre arts at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate level.
Prolific choreographer L'Antoinette Stines pens 'Soul Casing'