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Edna Manley Dance Gets Exposed!
“Exposure opens the doors to many things both the good and the bad.” This is the opening line for the Physical Labrish: Exposed the faculty of School of Dance showcase. The show which marked the return of the Physical Labrish annual concerts was aptly named. Through Physical Labrish the college finds a way to tap into the choreographic skill of its teaching staff and expose the society to new and emerging trends an ideas in dance. It is also a vehicle through which the school’s tender underbelly is exposed to the sharp teeth of public critique.
On this occasion, the faculty teamed up with past students of the school, who comprise the Propel Dance Collective. The show took place under the artistic direction of Oneil Pryce. Exposed immediately allows you to know that you are about to enter new and experimental territory though the engagement of multimedia footage. This engagement remained consistent and several of the pieces made use of it. Indeed, Neila Ebanks’ ‘No Home Like This Body: Legs to Stand On’ is a video installation.
Physical Labrish: Exposed presented an interesting night of dance. It helps that the faculty is populated by a strong cadre of young dancers and choreographers often willing to take dance into daring new directions. The pieces were reasonably short and pointed, often engaging and occasionally striking.
Kerry Ann Henry’s ‘Out of the Shadows’ was particularly striking, both in terms of the dancer’s execution as well as the artistic vision of the piece. The solo piece is danced and choreographed by Henry. Ebanks’ ‘In Edna’s Kitchen’, Oneil Pryce's 'UpRouted' and Marlon Simms’ ‘Ode to the Lost’ were all stimulating pieces.
Of course, not all the pieces were successful. Adbelo ‘Toki’ Gonzalez Fonseca’s ‘Gallo Fino’ was at best, uninteresting. ‘Rebirth’ choreographed by Pryce and Tamara Thomas, was not nearly as engaging as Pryce's first piece of the night ‘UpRouted’. However, even where ‘Rebirth’ failed to thrill, one has to give kudos to the choreographers insistence on trying new directions by making use of the space in which the dance takes place. The use of space in Rebirth, which uses two connecting dance studios is therefore its greatest success.
Nicholeen DeGrasse-Johnson’s ‘Dangle’ was not unsuccessful. However, it seemed that with the engagement of issues about identity etcetra, and as Jamaica continues to wallow in a sea of blood it would have been great to see the dance take ‘Strange Fruit’ and explore the strange, bloated and bloody fruits borne by Kingston’s streets rather than the tried and true North American lynchings. So, although Dangle was certainly and interesting well executed piece, it brought nothing new.
With Exposed, Physical Labrish remains a stage that celebrates and encourages experimentation. It is a space for thoughtful dance. At the end of the night, both the audience and the faculty were well and truly exposed.
Physical Labrish took place at the School of Dance Studio Theatre at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Arthur Wint Drive, Kingston.