Majestic music and movement

RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter

Monday, April 01, 2013

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There was positive consensus coming out of the National Dance Theatre Company's (NDTC's) Morning of Music and Movement Sunday.

The 32nd annual staging of the event drew a full house at the Little Theatre in St Andrew.

Artistic director of the company, Barry Moncrieffe, told the Jamaica Observer that following last year's show, it was decided that there had to be something new and fresh to energise the calendar event.

That 'something new' included the introduction of the spoken word, a congregational hymn and better balance between the music and movement.

These were achieved and did not go unnoticed by patrons who streamed into the theatre for the 6:00 am performance.

From the opening note, Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, which featured a procession by the NDTC singers, to the recession — a foot-stomping, hand-clapping revival medley — the breadth and scope of the NDTC was showcased.

It was that balance of the classical and indigenous, music and movement which made the performance a success.

In a morning of enjoyable performances there were, of course, stand-outs.

Ballet Mistress at the NDTC Kerry-Ann Henry is definitely an asset. This engaging dancer commands attention once she steps on stage with her athletic extensions, smooth lines and flawless execution.

This time around, her work in Bert Rose's Steal Away truly brought the piece together. But it was her solo, Arsenio Andrade Calderon's A Prayer, which stamped Henry's class.

Henry, who is also head of the School of Dance at the Edna Manley College, drew on her impressive skills to bring this piece to life. Though confined to an eight-foot circle, her movements seemed without boundaries.

This year, the shifting tides saw singers dancing and dancers singing.

Choreographer Kevin Moore can take credit for adding creative staging for the company's singers. This was evident in their rendition of Were You There? and The Story.

When dancer Patrick Earle took the stage for My Praise, one felt his movement would accompany the voices of the singers. However, this premonition was shattered when he stopped dancing and began to sing. He provided the third voice in a trio, which included newly appointed musical director Ewan Simpson and Leighton Jones.

The work of co-founder Professor Rex Nettleford continues to grace the NDTC stage.

An excerpt from his Brazilian Ode, choreographed in 2001, and the haunting Tintinabulum, first staged in 1997, were added to the morning's roster.

The climax was also a refreshing change. Again drawing on a Nettleford classic, Revival, would earn the NDTC a rousing round of applause for a morning of high entertainment.




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