You are here

Stella Maris Dance Ensemble Present Energetic and Diverse 20th Season

The Stella Maris Ensemble's 20th Season of Dance

The Stella Maris Dance Ensemble’s 20th Season of Dance was a mature, diverse and entertaining showcase, presenting a testament in movement to the maturity of the group and its members. The season comprised seven dances, some which have been in their repertoire for years and others making their premiere to the company and the world.

As I took my seat in the Little Theatre I was overcome with dismay as I realized that right behind me was a gaggle of little girls, whom I feared would prattle on for the night. Yet, before the end of the first dance, I was glad that they were sitting behind me, as their awe, even at things I found blasé, brought a refreshing element to my enjoyment of the evening. I found myself paying much attention to their responses, and it in part intrigued me, because the ensemble is a good place to whet the appetite of young dancers.
Gye Nyame choreographed by H Patten
The evening opened with ‘Gye Nyame (Except God)’, choreographed by H Patten. Gye Name an energetic and celebratory Afrocentric piece made a good note on which to start the performance. It was followed by a brief drumming interlude by Calvin Mitchell and Toki Gonzalez on congos.

While the drumming was unimpressive, what Gonzalez proffered next, his 1996 creation ‘Sensacion Locas’, was one of the best pieces of the night. ‘Sensacion Locas’ was particularly engaging because of the pace and fluidity of the movement. For the majority of the dance it took place at a languid pace that made it seem as though they are sedated or in a trance, and that was entrancing. As the dance progresses, the movement becomes more frenzied until it's twitching, manic climax.
Sensacion Locas choreographed by Toki Gonzalez
Interestingly, The Stella Maris Ensemble showcased its maturity by inviting one of its founding members, Neila Ebanks, to choreograph a piece for the season. The result was, I’n Moving Mind’, a piece exploring the germination and blossoming of an idea. Ebanks, an innovative choreographer was in the main true to form. ‘In Moving Mind’ had a striking and unusual beginning, which was aptly responded to (softly and slowly) by one of the young ladies behind me, with a ‘Bap! Bap!”. However, it ended on a traditional note, that this was a little disappointing.

Another of the new pieces to the repertoire was ‘Where is Maria’ choreographed by the ensemble’s artistic director, Dr. Monika Lawrence.  ‘Where is Maria’ is a beautiful, emotionally cogent dance. The soloists (Wendy Hoo Fatt, Roxanne Corniffe and Karen Seymour-Johnson) were well chosen bringing the emotional eloquence that the piece required, all enhanced by vibrant costuming.
Tribute to Cliff choreographed by Professor Rex Nettleford
Professor Rex Nettleford’s ‘Tribute to Cliff’ was another of the solid presentations of the night. The dance is a celebration of the different sides of the musical icon, Jimmy Cliff. It was a well executed piece. ‘Sankofa JA!’ (choreographed by Professor Kariamu Welsh Asante) also blended well with the evening’s offerings, enhancing the diversity of the presentation.

‘Liza’, the wonderfully dramatic and vibrant folk story, Liza closed the night. I have to confess an extreme bias toward this dance, which is choreographed by Lawrence. I’m unsure of the number of times I have seen this piece, but is many, and yet each time, I have enjoyed it. ‘Liza’ oozes wit and energy and is wonderfully bouyed by by its use of Jamaica folk and popular culture as it creates the difference between the rural and urban experience.
Wendy Hoo Fatt in Liza, choreographed by Monkia Lawrence
This time, it felt as though the dancers at the wedding might have ‘hacted’ up the performance a little, but that was not enough to dull the experience, especially as Karen Seymour (The Godmother), Wendy Hoo Fatt (The Mother), Monique Spence (Liza) and Gavin Hart (the Boyfriend) were absolutely delightful.

The Stella Maris Ensemble’s 20th Season of Dance took place at the Little Theatre, November 8 - 10, 2013.