Entertainment

Keeping in step with Renee McDonald

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, August 02, 2014    

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IF you have ever seen Renee McDonald dance, there is no doubt that she puts heart and passion into every move.

However, McDonald -- who started dancing at eight years old and is now the ballet and rehearsal mistress of The Company Dance Theatre -- will readily admit that for her this zeal did not come immediately.

"I did not develop a real passion for dance until maybe in my late teens, around the time I started getting into choreography while I was at UWI. Until that point, dancing was really just a fun, after-school activity for me. But at 17, when I was dancing with the University Dance Society and The Company Dance Theatre at the same time, being exposed to many different dance styles and getting awesome technique training simultaneously, as well as consistently interacting with passionate people, helped my passion to develop."

This was cemented at age 19, after an experience with noted Jamaican choreographer Dr L'Antoinette Stines (artistic director of L'Acadco).

"She told me that choreography was a gift from God that I was simply born with. It was definitely a turning point for me."

McDonald's foray into the world of dance happened quite serendipitously. Her best friend, with whom she did everything, started dancing with Tony Wilson and, as they say, the rest is history.

McDonald took to the classes like the proverbial fish to water, and at 14 years old, she was invited by Wilson to be a supporting dancer in his Company Dance Theatre.

Today, 'The Company' is home for McDonald, who, having completed a Bachelor's Degree in marketing management at the University of the West Indies, is on to her second... a law degree, and is equally passionate about her academic exploits as she is about her creative side.

"Studying law while taking my dance and choreography career seriously is not easy. But I strive for excellence in both," she explained.

And what is her favourite piece to perform?

"I love Calabash! I would do Calabash a million times and never complain. It is one of Mr Wilson's signature pieces and it is vibrant and colourful. I feel confident and happy when I dance it. It is also a dynamic and dramatic piece in terms of musicality, costumes, grouping, flow, and the moves showcase my strengths as a dancer. It is 25 minutes long but it's beautiful to watch and dance," she said.

This dancer, choreographer and law student would love to be a dancer in Broadway musicals.

"I love the drama in Broadway and sometimes as a dancer, you must be an actress or a storyteller in the moment. I would really enjoy doing that everyday," said McDonald.

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