Doing it for Tony

Arts & Culture

Doing it for Tony

Observer senior reporter

Thursday, November 07, 2019

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IT'S dance season.

The second half of each calendar year sees the majority of companies showcasing their works. So far, National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), Dance Theatre Xaymaca, Stella Maris Dance Ensemble, Wolmer's Dance Troupe, Campion Dance Society and Deh Jah Dance Theatre have already stomped the boards.

The Company Dance Theatre usually presents its season during the last weeks of November. However, this year will be a little different for the troupe, which was founded by veteran dancer Tony Wilson in 1988. There will not be a traditional season due to the ill health of Wilson, who suffered a stroke in June and has not been active since.

In a bid to offset his spiralling medical costs, The Company is staging Meraki, a benefit performance featuring some of Jamaica's other dance troupes.

The event will take place at Little Theatre in St Andrew on November 17, and feature guest performances by L'Acadco: A United Caribbean Dance Force, NDTC, Stella Maris, and Dance Theatre Xaymaca, alongside The Company.

Gabrielle Miller — The Company's principal dancer and co-rehearsal mistress — said they wanted to stage a true tribute concert, inviting some of the other companies with which Wilson has worked, to show their support.

“While we are still unsure of what the guest companies will perform, we, The Company will be showcasing works created by Mr Wilson exclusively on that night. Colours, Calabash, Prisms, and we will be remounting Twilight for the first time since it premièred in 2014. These works along with those of our guests will definitely be great and, therefore, patrons are guaranteed a wonderful experience. The programme will be varied and different from what we have become accustomed to, so that alone makes it something to look forward to. Add to that, the spirit of giving and sharing in which it is being staged and it just lifts the performances to a higher level,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

The funds raised from this venture will go towards a larger pool for the ailing dancer and choreographer. Friends and associates of Wilson have created a GoFundMe account aimed at raising US$12,000. As at October 5, the balance stood at just over US$7,000. The group noted that, come January next year, an assessment will be done to see what additional funds are required based on Wilson's health status.

Wilson recently received the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer at the annual National Honours and Awards Ceremony for his contribution to dance.

Following his career as a dancer, primarily with the NDTC, Wilson formed The Company in 1988. Under his direction, the troupe has become one of the country's foremost, with a cadre of highly skilled and trained dancers. With a focus on modern dance, the group primarily utilises the Graham and Horton techniques.

Wilson is also known for creating full-length ballets, utilising local stories set to modern dance techniques. In this regard, his most famous is Rose Hall.

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