IF Carifesta’s Decades of Dance had been a competition, Jamaica’s Movements Dance Company would have won hands down.
The Wrath of God, choreographed by international choreographer Christopher Huggins, had a militant feel thanks to the accompanying operatic music, with its uniform underlying beat, dancers dressed in simple, all-black costumes, and their methodical movements. Each dancer moved with precision and together they were in perfect sync.
Although a few moves were used several times, the dance never felt repetitive. In fact it was exciting as dancers kept moving on and off the stage, fluid in the transitions, and different groupings of dancers performed. The energy was also palpable and transferred to the audience, so that at the end, the company received a standing ovation.
Three Jamaican dance companies performed on Saturday night at the Queen’s Hall in St Ann’s, as well as 15 groups from Canada, Venezuela, Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, and of course, both Trinidad and Tobago. They entertained the packed auditorium with folk, Indian, contemporary, ballroom, and Latin dances, dressed in costumes of all colours and styles.
Fundacion Coreoarte, the duo from Venezuela, performed four short bolero dances both individually and together. Performed to Spanish music, the contemporary dances were peppered with obvious Latin moves, including several lifts, as they expressed passion, sensuality, emotional turmoil and love.
The National Dance Company of Guyana performed Spectrum, in which the two male dancers were up front and centre. The boys were shirtless and in skirts, while the girls wore flowing pastel-coloured dresses. The boys wowed the crowd with their well-executed moves as the jumped, spun and split their way into the hearts of the visibly surprised audience. They all danced with feeling and the crowd felt it too.
Drum Passion was the name of the dance by Jean Rene Delsoin Dance Company of Haiti. Dressed in red satin long skirts, the male and female dancers undulated around a stack of drums. Dancing to the beat of drums they touched the ones on stage, sat on them, held them, threw them to each other, beat them and danced with them.
At one point the drums stopped and the dancers interacted with the drums in silence. Things picked up in the last sequence, when they danced with wild abandon. They had so much energy that audience members just looked on in amazement.
From TT, the North West Laventille Folk Performing Company performed a piqué, a Creole dance, dressed in colourful bélé dresses. The exciting performance was full of drama and laughter. The crowd particularly enjoyed the moment one female dancer separated a couple as if she were jealous before dancing with another man, who ended up on his knees, enamoured with the woman.
The Nrityanjali Theatre performed a classical Indian dance starting with slow, controlled movements as it evolved into a kathak dance.
The second half was more lively and ended in a four-on-four dance-off before the dancers merged into one group. One standout was a young man whose movements were very precise and elegant, hinting at greater skill as he becomes more experienced.
Malick Folk Performing Company performed the flaming limbo. The drumming was of the high quality expected from the 40-year-old group and all the dancers seemed to be enjoying themselves.
In their red, white and black limbo outfits with ruffles hanging from their elbows, knees, and backsides, the dancers used their bodies as limbo sticks and stands as others limbo-ed under them.
At one point two bamboo shoots were brought out and held horizontally by men. One female dancer placed a foot on each shoot and danced as the men moved them back and forward and someone limbo-ed under the bamboo. This was before the finale, when they lit the middle of the stick, placed it relatively low and a male dancer limbo-ed to Fire in Meh Wire by Calypso Rose, to great applause.
The evening was thoroughly enjoyable and appreciated by the audience, who could be heard muttering their appreciation – and a few criticisms – when the event ended around 10 pm.