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A Beautiful Morning of Movement and Music
Though not as much a staple of Easter in Jamaica as bun and cheese and fried sprat and hardough bread, with 35 years under its leotard the National Dance Theatre Company’s Morning of Movement and Music is an established tradition. The 2016 edition of the event was a beautiful serving of praise and celebration through dance and music.
The morning of dance and music was beautiful in a way that allowed you to ruminate on the multiplicity of meanings within that word, a word far deeper than pretty, that makes space for sadness, reflection and celebration, all of which were present in the pieces.
The morning presented a mixture of new pieces and iconic pieces including Sheila Barnett’s ‘The Rope and The Cross’ (featuring Tamara Noel and Marisa Benain) which was introduced by a reading of Easton Lee’s The Rope and the Cross by Fae Ellington and Grace McGhie Brown. The reading, despite Ellington’s occasionally over-the-top delivery, enriched the morning’s serving.
Other dances taken from the NDTC’s extensive repertoire included Rex Nettleford’s ‘Ritual of the Sunrise’ and Bert Rose’s divinely beautiful ‘Steal Away’ with Kerry-Ann Henry, Terry-Ann Dennison, Gillian Steele, Mark Phinn and Marlon Simms.
Chris Walker’s ‘Walk With Me’ and Kerry-Ann Henry’s ‘Meeting Point’, placed back to back in the programme were easily two of the strongest pieces in the morning and resonated well with each other.
Performed by Henry and Paul Newman, ‘Meeting Point’ is a haunting and beautiful piece. Newman, always a solid, though not commanding dancer, has been having a strong showing and held up well beside Henry whose presence demands that you look at her.
‘Walk With Me’, performed by Marlon Simms, was one of the dances that dynamically blended the interplay between the dancers and singers. The piece continues Walker’s tradition of building a dance vocabulary that infuses street dance moves to an evocative end. Simms was lithe and graceful in his execution of this fervent yet beautiful dance.
Marlon Simms’ ‘Requiem’ featuring Henry, Newman, Lauryn Rickman, and Mark Phinn was another of the morning’s striking pieces. As with ‘Walk With Me’ this dance also integrated the dancers and singers (led by Faith Livingstone and Kaydene Gordon).
Patrick Earle’s ‘The Call’ was one of the morning’s few faulty landings. The dance’s unremarkable choreography resulted in a piece that amounted to no more than prettily prancing about, and the dancers pranced prettily indeed.
The 2016 Morning of Movement and Music also featured Simms’ ‘In the Son’ and Kevin Moore’s ‘Immortal Invisible’. The morning’s musical performances included ‘Ye Servants of God’, ‘Above All’, ‘The Celebrant’ (composed by Ewan Simpson) and Marjorie Whylie’s arrangement of ‘The Lord’s Prayer’.
The morning, under artistic direction of Barry Moncrieffe and Marlon Simms and musical direction of Ewan Simpson, ended on a high praise-filled note with Nettleford’s ‘Psalm 150’.
The NDTC’s 2016 Morning of Movement and Music took place at the Little Theatre, Tom Redcam Drive in Kingston. The morning was presented in association with The Little Theatre Movement and was in tribute to James Walker and George Carter, CD.
It was a morning as rich and textured as a good stout bun, and it was certainly more filling.