Sun | Jan 24, 2021

Wonderful show of regional talent at Jamaica Dance Umbrella

Published:Wednesday | March 4, 2020 | 12:00 AMMarcia Rowe/Gleaner Writer
Stella Maris Dance Ensemble performs ‘Patchwork’, choreographed by Tony Wilson.
Vickers Dance Studio performing ‘Triad’.
Movements Dance Company perform ‘Father, Father’, choreographed by Christopher Higgins.
MounKA performs ‘Biosphere’, choreographed by Jose Bertogal.
Praise Academy performing Nicole Bain’s ‘Sweet Surrender’.
Vickers Dance Studio performs ‘Triad’.
Powerhouse Studio performs the Tara-Jane Herbert-choreographed ‘Rewritten’.
‘Anointing’, choreographed by Monica Campbell-McFarlane.
The University College of the Cayman Islands performs ‘Fragments’.

Choreographers and dancers from Jamaica and the region came together under one umbrella last Saturday, the penultimate night of the 2020 season of Jamaica Dance Umbrella: Sankofa Effect. In a showcase of utmost creativity, they dazzled the full house at the Philip Sherlock Centre with an array of creativity, amazing precision, bountiful talent and admirable grace.

Movements Dance Company (MDC) and Stella Maris Dance Ensemble were the featured local acts. The latter performed only one piece, Patchwork, choreographed by Tony Wilson, and it was a powerful display of the choreographer’s imagination and dancers’ skill. Each formation and dance step was made easier by the tie-dyed unitards worn by the dancers.

But it was MDC’s Anointing, choreographed by Monica Campbell-McFarlane, that got the dance extravaganza going. The dance was brought to life by five dancers. They moved with passion, utilising the exits and entrances while covering the medium-size stage of the venue located at The University of the West Indies, Mona, with aplomb.

MDC further entertained with Campbell-McFarlane’s Buscando La Luz and Christopher Higgins’ Father, Father, and audience favourite, Wrath of God, which brought the curtains down to loud applause.

Praise Academy choreographer Nicole Bain continued the gospel theme with Sweet Surrender. It was also sweetly presented. However, Bain’s colleague Patricia Noble went for a call to action with her powerfully choreographed piece, Heal our Land.

After performing Kareen McLean’s Superior, best described as an exhibition of dancehall movements, the University Dance Society delivered the attention-grabbing It Transcends Life and Prevail Death. And Barbados Powerhouse Studio choreographer Megan Navarro spotlighted death of a different kind with Remember Me, an exploration of the mental condition, Alzheimer’s.

But by far, the night belonged to the Guadeloupe-based MounKA with their dance Biosphere, choreographed by Jose Bertogal. Dancing to an unrecognisable metallic beat, the four dancers were a showpiece of precision, timing and uniformity. With captivating fluency, they carved out a waterwheel, windmill and more, as they paid homage to the environment. Earlier, on Saturday, the group did a one-hour production of their dance.

Other performances came from soloists and choreographers Stefanie Takei-Taylor with Strange Fruit and Christian-Paul Gibson’s His Substance. The DanceCoLAB by Maya Wilkinson, Vickers Dance Studio Triad and Fragment from the University College of the Cayman Islands added flavour to the dance treat.

“The best dance companies in the region and Jamaica performed over the four nights. It showcases the talents in the Caribbean, while delivering dances of different genres, and bringing the community together,” Michael Holgate, tutor/coordinator of the Philip Sherlock Centre, told The Gleaner, highlighting that the Jamaica Dance Umbrella: Sankofa Effect is a platform for dancers from Jamaica and the region.

Dances from the local companies were chosen after the organisers attended their shows, while the regional companies were invited to submit videos of their work. The festival also boasts a workshop component, and Holgate noted that the 12-year event has grown, and they are getting more regional acts.