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Dancing with heart

Dancing with heart

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The Prism was a strong piece at this year’s recital. (PHOTOS: MICHAEL GORDON)
The Prism was a strong piece at this year’s recital. (PHOTOS: MICHAEL GORDON)

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

THE Company Dance Theatre is one of the best trained troupes on the local scene. Just watching the dancers go through their paces during their season at the Little Theatre in Kingston, last weekend, one is struck by the obvious talent, but moreso the drive and passion with which these artistes execute the works.

It is evident that this ‘dancing with heart’ comes from strong ethics instilled by artistic director Tony Wilson. Wilson, who also operates the Tony Wilson School of Dance, clearly brings across that discipline from his studio which fosters younger dancers to the semi-professional ensemble — The Company.

The season’s works featured new and remounted ones from choreographers locally and overseas. Dancer-turned-choreographer Renee McDonald is fast becoming the ‘go-to’ girl for local companies. This season, her work The Cellar was one of the high points of the recital. The work examines the mania which results from being trapped and the fight to free oneself.

The piece was dramatic from start to finish, utilising various areas of the stage and theatre to present what was an engaging piece of dance theatre. The ending is even more dramatic, if that is even possible, with the dance continuing long after the curtains close and the applause dies.

McDonald can truly take a bow for this work. The issue of race relations in the United States and ‘black lives matter’ formed the fulcrum from which Solomon Dumas’ One Day revolved.

Another dramatic piece from the tolling bell which formed the accompaniment for the opening tableau to the all-white-clad cast, the solo set to Psalms 23, the use of John Legend’s Glory from the movie Selma to the denouement with arms upheld signifying “don’t shoot!”, the work was a treat for the senses.

Dancers Lyndsey Lodenquai and Steven Cornwall are clearly the principal dancers with The Company. In addition to their impressive technical abilities, both display optimal levels of the passion and drive spoken of earlier. It never seems to be another day in the park for these two. Both deliver high quality performances with every appearance on stage.

Lodenquai, who is on her way to The Martha Graham School of Dance in New York, was paired with Cornwall in the duet Dissonance, choreographed by Tony Wilson. Both have a palpable chemistry and this brought realism to the work.

This year’s titular work, The Rising, also by Wilson, was a showcase of what The Company is all about — pulsating musical accompaniment, interesting choreography featuring solos, duets and strong group work to create a wonderful product. Wilson utilises a fusion of the Horton and Graham techniques of dance at his studio.

These templates, created by luminaries in the world of dance Lester Horton and Martha Graham, are used to great effect, but as the Jamaican saying goes: ‘Too much of one ting, good fi nuttin’. These techniques, which include interesting hand movements, sweeping leg extensions and the undulating hips and torsos, were present in almost every piece presented.

While it represents consistency and staying true to form, it could have been read as repetitious. A more diverse offering in terms of choreography would have been appreciated. The youngsters of the Tony Wilson School of Dance can take a bow for getting the show off to a great start with Colours.

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Charles Hyatt Being positive is a lifestyle and I live everyday loving the fact that I'm living every day. Each time I help someone smile, it reiterates the power of Good. So, I think, talk, eat, drink, Good News.

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