By Victor Carrington
Pride Guest Writer
A review by an audience member
In celebration of Jamaica’s 52nd anniversary of Independence, the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) of Jamaica delivered a stunning presentation of dance and music, at the Sony Centre of Performing Arts, last Tuesday night in Toronto.
The renowned dance group presented “A Tribute To Rex”, a collection of music and choreography, paying homage to the company’s co-founder, Ralston Milton “Rex” Nettleford.
It was a fabulously entertaining evening of ‘relationship in motion’. The performances were gripping and enticing, from the moment the curtains were raised to the time the show ended. The stories they told through dance were relevant and familiar, while being full of heart, spirit and passion.
Warm welcoming remarks were presented by Jamaican Consul General, Seth George Ramocan. The show commenced with ‘Urban Fissure’ (2004) – Music of Bob Marley’s “No more trouble”, featuring Eryka Badhu; and Bob Marley’s “Rastaman Chant”, featuring Busta Rhymes as the dancers moved to the Choreography of Chris Walker.
This was followed by “Playtime”, a depiction of urban life in Jamaica with its pleasures, challenges and triumphs, all expressed through a confluence of interpretive dance, ballet and acrobatic moves. The dancers painted a picture of art in its highest form, as they performed beautifully choreographed pieces that told the stories.
A chorus of singers with orchestral accompaniment delivered nostalgic Jamaican folk songs, which inspired the audience to burst into a sing- along with bodies moving in time with the performers.
The audience was introduced to “SULKARI” (1980) – a dance of exaltation in fertility, which was originated from, and inspired by the movements of the Yoruba peoples of Arara, as well as diverse elements of African art and culture. The choreographers craftily designed the presentation which captured the spirit and the moment.
During the intermission, the aromatic scents of Jamaican and West Indian foods authenticated the Caribbean atmosphere, much to the delight of the audience who participated without hesitation.
The piece that followed was “Dialogue For Three” (1963) demonstrating the reality of a male in his helplessness, and the force of two females struggling in a triangular relationship. This performance unfolded with grace and continuity, and the performers maintained a level of intensity and professionalism that was second to none.
The final arrangement, “Gerrehbenta”(1983) whose name was derived from two major traditional rites practised in Jamaica – ‘gerreh’ in Hanover, and ‘dinky mini’ which uses ‘the benta’ (a musical instrument). The costumes, the performers and the music were indeed beholding to the eyes and ears of the audience.
The choreography of Rex Nettleford, Chris Walker, Kerry-Ann Henry, Momo Sanno, Eduardo Rivero-Walker, and Arsenio Andrade-Calderon was at the highest standard that could have been expected – World Class.
Overall this was a first class program, well executed and masterfully presented. It was a brilliant showcasing of Jamaican talent. The performers were young, beautiful, muscular, flexible and extremely talented. The delivery of the performances was vibrant, enthusiastic and zestfully exhibited.
In addition, some of the proceeds of the evening would help two students of schools in Jamaica, to attend The Jamaica School of Dance.