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L'Acadco Turns 30

L'Acadco performing Abuzukie

L'Acadco: A United Caribbean Dance Force announced its seniority amongst the continuously expanding Caribbean dance space with the launch of its 30th anniversary, celebrations, marking it as one of Jamaica’s oldest dance troupes. The troupe announced a slate of activities to commemorate the milestone event.

The year of activities will include tours to China, Cayman and Suriname for Carifesta 2013. Of course, there will also be a season of dance, stretching across two weekends,  June 28 - 30 and July 5-7. In her continuous bid to break the mould, the group’s founder and artistic director, Dr. L’Antoinette Stines promised that each night of the season will feature a different suite of dances. Patrons can therefore purchase nightly or season tickets. 

To achieve this monumental task, which Stines admits will tax both her dances and her technical crew, L’Acadco will be enlisting a slew of guest choreographers including Jean Carson, Yanique Hume, Oneil Pryce and Neila Ebanks. The season will also feature choreography from Jessica Shaw, as the season's young choreographer.

L'Antoinette Stines "It’s a whole year of celebrating,” Stines announced. “But it's a year of giving, a year of loving.” She explained that throughout the year, L’Acadco would be seeking to take the show to people, especially the little people. As such as series of lecture demonstrations are being lined up for various schools including Alpha Academy, Jamaica College, St. Andrew High, Montego Bay High and Wolmers High. Additionally, a free performance at Emancipation Park during the Emanci-pendence period 2013, is also being planned.

Stines explained that while studying dance in New York, she had been moved to create L’Acadco out of a desire to craft a movement that adequately expressed Caribbean culture. She admitted however that the first seeds were planted much earlier.

"I began the thought of L'Acadco on the concrete floor around the back of a dance studio in Harbour View," Stines told the audience, referring to her days as a student of Alma Mock Yen. She explained that she was able to go on this trajectory because Mock Yen had no interest in creating clones and as such she was able to tap into her own creative imagination.

So Stines paid tribute to Mock Yen, Rex Nettleford, and Ivy Baxter who planted the seeds from which Jamaica's burgeoning crop of dance companies has grown. She admitted that her attempts to explore Jamaican culture would have met much greater resistance if Nettleford had not already smoothed the path somewhat with pieces like ‘Kumina’.

Amina Blackwood Meeks, the evening's guest speaker, contextualized the role of dance and the arts in society. Meeks pointed out that artists are often maligned as non-productive, but are a critical force. "They can call it pastime, but make dem tink dem bad and try pass time without it," she said.

Meeks argued that age 30 could be viewed as a time of renewal and Jamaica was in dire need of renewal. She noAmina Blackwood Meeksted that on the day of Ja's 50th year of Independence, August 6, 2012, the country experienced the “magical moment” of having the eyes of the world looking at us in admiration while the national anthem was played due to the exploits of our athletes. Unfortunately this public admiration was quickly marred by violence.

"We have this way of sabotaging ourselves," Meeks said. She argued that the nation needed to get beyond this self-sabotage and seek renewal. Meeks argued that L'Acadco's work reflected a conscious attempt to inspire a new beginning, a new awakening in the society. She argued however that greater effort was required from across the society. As such she urged that the nation direct its collective attention to the healing of Jamaica.

The night culminated with the introduction of a new work 'Abuzukie' choreographed by Stines, with costumes designed by Arlene Richards and music by L'Acadco Drum Xplosion.

The launch took place at the Phillip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, University of the West Indies, Mona, November  13, 2012.