Entertainment

NDTC'S RHYTHM TWINS

By Richard Johnson Observer senior reporter

Sunday, March 02, 2014    

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DURING the early years of the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), Barry Moncrieffe and Patsy Ricketts made a name for themselves performing duets in some of its best known works.

Fast-forward to 2014 and Kerry-Ann Henry and Marlon Simms are creating similar waves.

Both consider themselves 'twins' as they were born hours apart on separate days — Simms on August 30 and Henry on August 31.

"I have never met anyone who understands me like Marlon," bubbles Henry. "We think and say the same thing at the same time, we complete each other's sentences, we quarrell at the same time... we just connect."

Simms interjected, "It filters into how we approach dance. We understand each other's flaws and have a mutual understanding of the stage..." Henry completed the sentence: "We just work together to balance each other. We never get flustered at the same time."

This creates a sense a security for Henry when Simms is her partner.

"I don't have to fake whatever I am doing on stage. If a lift is going wrong I trust him enough to know that he will do whatever it takes to make it right. So with that knowledge I can do more with him and I know it's gonna be fine. We have never had a major accident... we are so in tune that I can dance hard even in a rehearsal," said Henry.

"I don't have to fake whatever I am doing on stage. If a lift is going wrong I trust him enough to know that he will do whatever it takes to make it right. So with that knowledge I can do more with him and I know it's gonna be fine. We have never had a major accident... we are so in tune that I can dance hard even in a rehearsal," said Henry.

Henry and Simms have been paired in pieces including ...Minutes and Seconds, Edna M, Malungu, Ancestral Images, Caves End and Barre Talk.

Asked to name her favourite duet Henry chose ...Minutes and Seconds, while for Simms it is Bert Rose's Edna M.

Henry is director of the School of Dance at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, where Simms is assistant director.

At the NDTC, he is Dance Captain, responsible for the administration of the company and voice for the dancers on the company's board of directors. Henry is the Ballet Mistress at the NDTC, and her duties include guiding the remounting of works from the company's extensive repertoire, teaching, as well as establishing a rehearsal schedule.

Simms never danced publicly until he was a fourth former in high school when a female member of the school's dance troupe needed a male partner. This ignited his passion for dance which was cemented during his years at the University of the West Indies, Mona, as a member of the Dance Society.

Henry had an earlier start. While a student at Rose Gordon Preparatory School in Richmond Park, St Andrew, she eagerly watched rehearsals of the school's dance group. She learned every ballet position and wore her mother down until she relented and allowed the bubbly youngster to register for the dance class, though she had no leotard.

Henry and Simms first came into contact with Arlene Richards, principal dancer at the NDTC, at different stages, but it would lead to an invitation to join the the NDTC and work with founder and artistic director of the company, Professor Rex Nettleford.

This year marks Henry's second decade with the NDTC, while Simms joined in 1999. They form an integral part of a company which seeks to adopt its mantra of Renewal and Continuity, following Nettleford's death four years ago.

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