NDTC Singers step into spotlight

Entertainment

NDTC Singers step into spotlight

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 08, 2019

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With 57 years under its belt, the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica (NDTC) has become known as a force in the world of dance, but in recent years the singers of the company have been stepping into the limelight and making a name for themselves.

Originally, the NDTC Singers was assembled by the company's co-founder, the late Professor Rex Nettleford to fill the gaps, acting as bumpers between the dance works during performances. But in recent years the group comprising vocalists and musicians have been creating a space for themselves with concerts as well as a recording to highlight their immense talent.

Last Wednesday it was the singers and musicians of the NDTC who took centrestage at the Little Theatre in St Andrew and provided a treat for the small, yet appreciative audience which gathered.

Under the guidance of Acting Musical Director Dr Kathy Brown, the ensemble showcased a kaleidoscope of work which ranged from Jamaican folk, reggae and dancehall to the classics, all done with the signature movement and colour that the group has become known for over the years.

For openers, Brown and her team chose the folk idiom with a suite of 'jackass' songs aptly titled Donkey's Tale. Each offering involved an ass as the central figure. Hol' Him Joe, Jackass Wid Him Long Tail and Di Buggy Bruk were among the often humorous facets to this medley, which were seamlessly strung together thanks to the arrangement by Heston Boothe and Conrod Hall.

Earlier this year Brown premièred Journey, a suite of songs by dancehall kingpin Buju Banton. It was hailed then, and returned for this one-night-only concert. The Gargamel's Lord Give I Strength, Untold Stories, Hills and Valleys, Not An Easy Road, Rampage, Murderer, How Massa God Worl' A Run, and Magic City were among the anthems from the deejay which were included in this mash up. With costuming and movement to boot, Journey proved itself once again with its high entertainment value.

The sum quality of the group is a reflection of the strength of its individual performers. This was borne out with the presentations by Toni Barrett's rendition of Jimmy Cliff's I Can See Clearly Now; tenor Joshua Page's spirited take on You Made A Way and veteran singer Faith Livingstone on Gesu Bambino.

Former NDTC Singer Dawn Fuller Phillips would grace her old stomping ground delighting with three pieces: Pie Jesu — a duet with Livingsto ne; You Can Tell the World and Clyde Hoyte's Jamaican Noel.

It being the Christmas season, Brown and her team injected a Yuletide medley with works penned by the late Jamaican composer, arranger, liturgist and choir director Noel Dexter.

Come Show Mi Weh Di Young Chile Born, Star of Bethlehem, Run Come Quick, Jesus Born and Sing Di Chorus was given a extra special treatment given Dexter's recent passing and when Devon Malcolm Brewster joined on steel pan the experience was heightened even further.

No NDTC performance is complete without even one dance work. For this event they company chose Nettleford's iconic Kumina. The dancers were spot on. The energy levels were high given that it was their only appearance, as opposed a regular performance where this piece usually comes at the end when their energies are waning. However, the same could not be said for the singers, who having sang all evening were not at optimal levels and therefore the standard I Want to Know was left wanting.

The singers, in particular, and the NDTC, in general, continue to showcase the rich, and deep storehouse of talent that abides here on the rock, talent that we should continue to showcase and appreciate.


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