Entertainment

Kudos to Campion Dance Society

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

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FROM June to December, a number of dance troupes bring their skills and talents to the stage.

Dance companies such as Deh Jah Dance Theatre and the Tivoli Dance Troupe have already showcased their season and this past weekend was Campion Dance Society's turn. And what was presented, was well worth the watch.

If you have never witnessed a performance of this group, which comprises students of one of Jamaica's prominent high schools, you'd perhaps feel that it would be a rudimentary recital. Erase that pre-conceived notion immediately. What students from Campion presented at the Little Theatre was rich, diverse, intelligent and ultimately entertaining.

It is, however, understood that these dancers bring a lot more to the table than the average high school groups as many of them have been exposed to formal training from an early age and, at least one cast member, has international exposure. The calibre of the choreographers whose works were showcased also added, in great measure, to the overall look, feel and success of the presentation.

Those aside, kudos must be given to artistic director Dwright Wright, who happens to be a teacher of economics at the school with no dance training, for pulling the season together and offering another level to the Jamaican dance landscape.

This year, the season was dubbed Ultima and one clearly got a sense that the troupe was heading to their highest attainable point by the sheer number of works presented. A staggering 15 presentations took to the stage each of admirable standard and quality covering genres, including modern, jazz, folk and dancehall. Of course, there were the works which had more of an impact than others.

The opener Heaven, choreographed by Wright, Oraine Frater and Orville McFarlane, was a delight from beginning to end. The multiple layers and smart transitions were perfect, especially against In Caelum Fero, the popular music of Karl Jenkins. The training of this corps was evident as the work drew heavily on modern and ballet techniques. The jetés across the Little Theatre stage were impressive.

Frater's Shadowland was another piece worth the watch. Interestingly, this work draws its name from the track from the Broadway musical The Lion King and Frater has just been cast in the UK and Ireland touring company.

The fact that the troupe is school-based and comprises students is not lost. This is brought out in different ways. Lost Ones by McFarlane was one of the most intelligent works presented. It examined the atrocities against children. The muted voices of our young ones was masterfully depicted in the red ribbons which gagged the dancers throughout the pieces and their overall struggle to free themselves and their voices came across the movement which rose to manic levels.

Another work which examined the plight of children was In Memory Of... performed in three movements and choreographed by Wright and Marlon Simms. This work was indeed mature and well executed. Soloist Jevon Ferill must be singled out here. This young man definitely has a place if he is serious about dance in the future. The control and technique inherent in this teenager are impressive and he brought that to bear on this work.

In-demand choreographer Renee I McDonald stamped her signature on two works from Campion this season. Black Legion and Aria showcased her epic, abstract style of dance and the young dancers were able to interpret it bring it to life.

Not all works were heavy and mature, light-hearted works had their place at the table. Rhythmically by Robertha Daley, Rhythms, Friends for Now, and Break The Ice shared equal billing.

The dancers, choreographers and team at the Campion Dance Society can all take a bow for a job well done. Having set the bar this high, one wonders where this troupe of dancers will go next. However, it is clearly not beyond them and, therefore, their 10th anniversary season next year should be even more delightful.


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