Choreographer Carlton “Jackie” Guy speaking with dancers after goingthrough rehearsals.

CONDOLENCE and reflections have been coming in from local dance fraternity members following the passing of renowned dancer/choreographer Carlton “Jackie” Guy, who passed away in London on Tuesday.

For many, it was Guy's imposing stature on stage as well as his passion and appreciation for traditional folk forms that he will best be remembered. On a personal note, it was his warm and caring demeanour that drew many to him.

Artistic director of L'Acadco, Dr L'Antoinette Stines had a long friendship with Guy. They both started out at the ballet school run by Alma Mok Yen in her backyard in Harbour View, St Andrew, in the 1960s.

“Jackie and I have known each other since we were teenagers. We both started with Mrs Mok Yen and became the two Mok Yen dancers who took our talent to a higher level, so this hurts... It hurts on so many levels... It's a sad one for me. I knew he was ill and got the call once he had passed,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

Stines noted that one of Guy's attributes was his dedication to research on our traditional folk forms.

“He was so into it and incorporated it into his choreography. This will undoubtedly be part of his legacy. Another area for which he must be remembered is his work with the creation and development of the University Dance Society at UWI Mona. He did some great work there and I'm sure he had an impact on his students. In the UK, he became a sort of father figure to dancers, especially those from Jamaica. Once they arrived he welcomed them in a very fatherly way and saw to their well-being,” Stines noted.

His love for traditional dance forms was echoed by former dancer and researcher Cheryl Ryman, with whom he danced as part of the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica (NDTC).

“Jackie and I became members of the NDTC around the same time... this would have been about 1968. Like me, he had stayed out with ballet but we found our true love and passion in folk. Once we got introduced to the real Jamaican movement, it was our love. At the time we would go into the field and learn these movement patterns from the real practitioners, so traditional folk forms like Bruckins, Jonkanoo and Kumina were part of us – and Jackie was clearly focused.”

“As a performer on stage, you could not miss him. Rex [Nettleford] knew how much we had a passion for folk and so he created Drumscore on both Jackie and myself as our bodies and movement patterns were given to this type of dance. We were also partnered in Character Sketches, which was also by Rex, and in I Not I by Sheila Barnett. Jackie was just a great person and we had so many great moments,” said Ryman.

In a post to social media, the NDTC expressed regret at his passing.

“His passion, creativity, pedagogical skills and his love for dance and the Jamaican folk culture will be truly missed. We thank him for all he did before leaving this plane to join the 'Dance-stors'. May his soul rest in peace and light perpetual shine upon him,” the company noted.

Mok Yen, his first dance teacher, also took to social media to express her condolence.

“He was a regular and constant communicator, sending me speeches he thought important and photographs he presumed would interest me, and gifts on several occasions.

“On my recent 93rd birthday I thought he might be ill as I heard nothing from him. Now I know. Farewell, my friend – you were a good friend and you never lost your love of our folk movement. You researched it a great deal and incorporated it in whatever works you were choreographing. I will look up at the stars tonight and see three stars shining brighter than the others and know it is you three guys looking down on the patio where I ran my Harbour View Dance Centre. I will weep for you all a little and then I will smile at the many memories. The dancing is ended but your music lingers on,” Mok Yen added.

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter

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