Local dancers soar at Amalgamation

By Richard Johnson
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

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LOCAL dance companies certainly held their own alongside their international counterparts at Amalgamation, held at the Little Theatre in St Andrew on Saturday and Sunday.

The event, which was organised by Plié for the Arts, saw presentations by dancers from some of the top companies in the United States as well as The National Dance Theatre Company Dance Theatre of Jamaica (NDTC), Movements Dance Theatre, The Company, and Stella Maris Dance Ensemble. The pieces performed from the repertoires of the Jamaican companies were strong and reflected the diversity in the offering from the local community.

The entertainment value in each piece was of the highest standard.

Divulgence was the first piece up from Jamaica, and one of two performed by The Company. Created by choreographer-on-the-rise Renee McDonald, the sheer pace and intensity of this piece held the audience from the opening steps straight through to the denouement. Under the director of Tony Wilson, The Company prides itself on having what is arguably the strongest corps of dancers in the country. This was evident in the strong lines and overall execution of both pieces. The second work, The Web, also showcased to brilliant effect the strong training ethic emphasised by this company.

MoniKa Lawrence's The Potter — an ode to the late Professor Rex Nettleford — was also an audience favourite, especially when a giant portrait of the professor was projected on the backdrop, this drew wild applause.

Nettleford would have beamed with pride as he watched Sulkari from the NDTC. Choreographed by the Cuban Eduardo Rivera Walker, this celebration of fertility, all 20 minutes, showcased afro Cuban cultural expression at it best.

The organisers clearly saved the pulsating, high-octane Wrath of God by Movements Dance Company to close the show. This work by choreographer Christopher Huggins never fails to excite audiences with its driving soundtrack and sharp, high energy presentation.

The only areas in which the the international dancers were ahead were their precise technical abilities and overall conditioning which can be put down to the fact, they are full-timeprofessional dancers.

Of the international set, dancer Adji Cissoko of Alonzo King Lines Ballet was a standout.

Her duets with Shuaib Elhassan were poetry in motion. Her body, with its strong, yet delicate and expressive extremities, created a narrative complete with metaphors which made the stories they told jump off the page, or in this case the stage, and become more real and vivid. Her endless extensions reached up to the heavens and made her seem 10 feet tall.

Another duo, Ashley Mayeux and Michael Jackson Jr, touched the core of the Jamaican audience with Amazing Grace, choreographed by Dwight Rhoden of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Their presentation was was a delicate combination of classical ballet set to a powerful Negro spiritual. Both technically adept dancers weaved magic as their bodies simply became one, transitioning beautifully to create shapes, layers and textures.

Spanish dancer Carlos Gonzalez did very well on his solo Wild. Set to Kiss From a Rose by Seal, Gonzalez was appreciated by the audience for his grace, strength and explosiveness. His multiple pirouettes were not missed by those in the 'dance know' and she showed their appreciation.

The opening act, Jessica Lang's iconic work The Calling was dramatic. The majesty of dancer Kanji Segawa's oversized skirt truly set the tone for this piece. With such an imposing prop it is left to the subtle movements of the choreography to convey the message in the piece.

This was another great showing by Plie for the Arts, and it has been officially announced that next event will see prima ballerina Misty Copeland taking to the Jamaican stage in early 2018.

 

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