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NDTC 54th, delightful show of 'Renewal and Continuity'

Published:Tuesday | July 26, 2016 | 12:14 PMMarcia Rowe
'Unscathed' by Troy Powell.
'Labess' by David Brown.

NDTC 54th

Delightful show of 'Renewal and Continuity'

From the mesmerising to the contagious movements, the National Dance Theatre Company's (NDTC) slew of dancers, adorned in, at times, risque-looking costumes, brought the works of five choreographers to life. And while there was only one new work on Sunday's programme, there was no denying it was an enjoyable one.

The 2016 season dance show is being staged at the company's gliding ground, The Little Theatre. And among the works showcased on Sunday were two choreographed by the late Rex Nettlford. They were his 1998 'Ritual of the Sunrise' and the 1983 classic, 'Gerrehbenta'.

NDTC artistic director, Barry Moncrieffe, told The Gleaner that while it was not necessary to have made any adjustment to Gerrehbenta, "in the first piece (Ritual of Sunrise), as you know, it repeats a lot, so the men used to come down and bow and many thought the dance was finished". So he took the liberty to add to the choreography, with resounding success.

Ritual of Sunrise proved to be a fitting curtain opener. It was captivating and well executed. The dance begins with the white-costumed female dancers who move gracefully and timely, body extensions beautifully controlled. Their movements contrast with the invigorating entrance of the male dancers, also in white. But the Arlene Richards-designed costumes with legs of two distinct lengths, bordered on the risque, yet impressively allowed for quick changes, solidifying the dance's ending of hope.

Gerrehbenta was also a fitting way to close the programme. Colourful and engaging, it had the audience rocking to the lively folk songs performed by the NDTC singers and musicians. Additionally, it is a nice blend of three of Jamaica's traditional folk forms, jonkonnu, gerreh and dinky-mini. Jonkonnu is shown in some costumes while the choreography is a tapestry of gerreh and dinky-mini steps. And as was the case in the opening, the dancers delivered each step with understanding; moving into the various formations with calculated beauty and feeling.

Works of choreographers Chris Walker, Troy Powell, RenÈe McDonald and David Brown also added to the entertainment value of the programme. Brown's 2002 choreographed 'Labess' was the most exploratory and was edgy in content and costumes. Performed by seven dancers, four females and three males, the choreography begins with a horizontal formation, defined by lights that were further enhanced by hiding the white cyclorama behind a black backdrop. After a period of accepting and rejecting conformity, the dance moves into liberation, albeit creating parallel rules symbolised by a diagonal formation; subsequently, that changes. The choreographer's brown-and-burgundy-designed costumes also captured this concept.

McDonald's 2015 'Into the Blue' was creative in formation and justly executed, likewise Powell's 2015 'Unscathed'.

Walker's 2014 tribute to Nettleford, 'Mountain Climbing', was a moving metamorphic dance performed by Tamara Noel. Symbolic in concept, the dance ended with the dancer leaving a trail, marked by pieces of fabric behind.

The Ewan Simpson-arranged 'You/We', performed by the NDTC singers and orchestra, was the lone new work on the programme. With movements that complemented the dancers, the group gave a good account of themselves in the first part of the show.