́As a radiant Tessanne Chin held that final note of Bridge Over Troubled Water accompanied by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jamaica, scenes of the past two years of the novel coronavirus pandemic flashed on the cyclorama behind them. It was a reminder that we had endured collectively, and were now able to come together once again and enjoy live theatre and the return of Plié for the Arts' Amalgamation.
Amalgamation is just as its name suggests: a uniting of performers from around the world to share one stage in the name of dance. Founded by Marisa Benain, who is also artistic director, Plié for the Arts treated patrons to a phenomenal programme that saw performances from Jessica Lang, Parsons Dance, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and more.
The dance portion of the evening kicked off with an ethereal staging of The Calling, choreographed by Jessica Lang. Sarah Daley-Perdomo was a divine image as she stood in the centre of a sprawling white skirt making economical but striking arm movements.
The highlight of the night, beloved by the audience and my personal favourite, was Caught, choreographed by David Parsons and danced by the always powerful Zoey Anderson. With timely flashing lights, Anderson executes a series of jumps that allow her to appear as though she's defying gravity and walking on air around the stage. It's a dazzling performance that shows the feats achieved when dance meets technical innovation.
The evening continued with an excerpt from Alvin Ailey's acclaimed statement piece Revelations entitled Fix Me Jesus and danced beautifully by Michael Jackson Jr and Sarah. HM3 by Jeanguy SAINTUS saw live drumming and controlled, grounded movement from Mackenson Israel Blanchard, Emmanuel Gerant, and Johnnoiry Saint Phillippe.
A lighthearted moment followed with Awassa Astrige/Ostrich by Asadata Dafora and danced by Jamie Thompson, who appeared courtesy of Dallas Black Dance Theatre. With a feathery costume, Thompson strutted his way across the stage, rippling his arms like a rushing river and swaying his hips to the drumbeat, as an imitation of an ostrich. It drew a hearty laugh from an enthralled audience.
Anderson returned for Balance of Power, also by David Parsons. She showcased complete control of her body to hit every single note in the percussion music by Giancarlo De Trizio with a blend of lyrical and staccato moves. Another highlight was Choke, choreographed by Dwight Rhoden, which saw dancers Thomas Dilley and Vincenzo Di Primo performing courtesy of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Set to Vivaldi's iconic Four Seasons (Summer Section), the boys emphasised the power in ballet with springing jumps, multiple pirouettes, and the sharpest of tilts.
The night closed with dancers from many of the major dance companies in Jamaica under the group known as the Plié Collective. Jamaica took to the stage and brought the house down with Renee McDonald's Confrontation. In one of her best pieces out of her outstanding repertoire, the Jamaican dancers moved in complete synchronicity with their trademark verve to resounding applause.
"A most fulfilling dream," said Marisa Benain of the venture to bring dancers and dance companies from around the world to a Jamaican audience. And what a dream it was indeed!
Mariana Samuda is the author of the chapbook Five Places You Meet Fifteen-Year-Old You (Conium Press, 2021) and has previously published work in Atticus Review, Moko Magazine, Helix Magazine, and others. As a dancer, she trained at the Vickers Dance Studio and performed professionally with the National Dance Theatre of Jamaica and L'acadco: A united Caribbean dance force.