Saturday, October 18, 2014

SCENE & HEARD: Out and About with Usain Bolt, Carlene Davis, Dance Xpressionz, Iceman, and more

ALL FOR ONE: Oct. 16, St, Andrew. As she rendered selections new and old at her Dripping Blood album launch on Thursday night at Redbones, singer Carlene Davis was joined on stage by fellow gospel industry heavyweights Junior Tucker and Kevin Downswell. (Photo: TALLAWAH)

THE BLAZERS: Oct. 14. Kingston. To bring the curtains down on their Heritage Week performance of the community drama Many Moods of Marcus at the Theatre Place, the Dance Xpressionz crew treated the high-schoolers who packed the auditorium to an electrifying display of the latest dancehall moves. (Photo: TALLAWAH)

TWO OF A KIND: Oct. 10, Kingston. Proven experts at tickling the funny bone, Donald 'Iceman' Anderson (left) and Shaun Drysdale had the massive crowd of theatregoers in stitches as opening-night action from Jamaica Mek Wi Laugh: Di Revue unfolded at the Green Gables Theatre. (Photo: TALLAWAH)

RUNNING MAN: Oct. 7, St. Andrew. It's back to the drawing board for the World's Fastest Man, who has resumed training at the Racers Track Club, UWI Mona, as he looks to continue his domination in men's sprinting come 2015, a World Championship year. (Photo: Usain Bolt/Facebook)

SHOT CALLERS: Oct. 4, St. Andrew. Raging Fyah lead singer Kumar Bent (right) and ace video director/filmmaker Kyle Chin sealed their fraternal bond on the set of the video shoot for the band's new single "Brave." Filmed mainly on location at the Edna Manley College, the upcoming clip sets a soothing, reflective mood to match the song's wised-up, introspective vibe. (Photo: TALLAWAH)

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LANGUAGE IN MOTION: A captivating lecture demonstration examines the body's limitless abilities

ON THE FLOOR: Dance students, led by Ebanks (far left), illustrated some of the ideas explored. Below, panellists contributing to the discussion.

How do choreographers and dancers achieve their vision? How do they use their bodies to communicate? The list of sensible responses is potentially endless, as evidenced by the discussion that unfolded inside the Dance Studio Theatre of the Edna Manley College on Thursday afternoon during a panel discussion/lecture demonstration dubbed "The Arts as Language," moderated by Amina Blackwood-Meeks. 

Insightful and captivating, the discussion wove together eye-opening aspects of the performing arts, the concept of beauty in movement, and a sense of psychology to examine that dichotomy between the body's appearances and abilities — and not just in terms of dance theatre. 

Neila Ebanks made arguably the most solid contribution to the discourse, rounding up a bunch of her first-to-fourth year EMC students to illustrate what she referred to as "speaking through the body through dance." Much of her exploration revolved around the use of space, time signature and body language, along with various other unspoken techniques that dancers (aka movers) traditionally employ in communicating lucidly with their audience. Choreographic clues, Ebanks also pointed out, go a long way in highlighting motifs, with or sans the benefit of music. "The body is a terrific communication tool," the ace dancer-choreographer-educator concluded, "and as dancers it is always important that we use it to send strong and clear messages."
As for the bigger picture, when it comes to speaking through any particular art form, the scope for misinterpretation must be significantly minimized. So argued Blackwood-Meeks. "As an artist, what do I speak? Is it defiance or revolution? What is it that I'm communicating?" she posited, highlighting a line of argument that genuine creative artists have to grapple with all the time. "How can I use my art to contribute to the wider conversation and the possibilities of where that conversation can go?" 

The afternoon session, which formed part of a day-long Language Symposium, also drew the participation of visual artist Miriam Smith, musician Andrew Adman, arts management pro Denise Salmon, and the National Dance Theatre Company's Kerry-Ann Henry. 

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Friday, October 17, 2014

HIGH PRAISE: Carlene Davis and friends launch Dripping Blood, the singer's hypnotic new solo record

FLASH BACK: Breaking from the stage, Davis made her way into the crowd to meet and greet.

Picture the scene: seated up front are Youth and Culture minister Lisa Hanna and former Prime Minister Bruce Golding. Elsewhere in this jam-packed audience are Queen Ifrica, Omari, Charmaine Limonius and Kevin Downswell. Turned out in a sartorially sharp strong suit, Senator Norman Grant cuts a dashing figure. 

Ryan Mark and Chrissy D are among the fashionably late arrivals. Junior Tucker also put in a much-welcomed appearance. Scores of fans and well-wishers jump to their feet and raise their voices as the fan favourites blare from the speakers.....

Just a handful of the highlights from Thursday night's ├╝ber-well-supported launch in celebration of Carlene Davis' tenth solo gospel album, Dripping Blood (17 all-new soul-stirring and well-crafted tracks!) that brought church to Redbones. 

With her lively backing band and awesome supporting vocalists in tow, the lady of the hour put on a thrilling performance, hitting a higher and higher spiritual octave with each rendition of a fresh track or a timeless classic. TALLAWAH was in the heady mix, taking in the vibrant scene:

WE ARE FAMILY: Minister Lisa Hanna (centre) brought her charming mom, Dorothy (left) as her plus one to the album launch, where they chatted with singer Charmaine Limonius

STRONG SUIT: KLAS' Tony Young rocked the mic — and a shocking pink tie — as the event's emcee.

REASON TO SMILE: Crooner Kevin Downswell and his lovely wife Marsha said hi to our lens.

DYNAMIC DUO: October's cover model Ryan Mark (right) and fellow recording artiste Omari stepped out to support their industry big sis Carlene Davis.

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FAST TALKERS: This week's sound bytes starring Captain Horace Burrell, Dr. Carl Williams, Peter Bunting, and more

"There is need to reinforce the importance of the Treaty of Chaguaramas and the spirit of it in relation to freedom of movement. If Jamaica cannot have dignity given to its nationals who travel in the region, then there is a case for us to seriously consider whether this integration movement has outdone its time." Opposition spokesman on foreign affairs Edmund Bartlett in the wake of concerns raised about 13 Jamaicans being turned back from Trinidad & Tobago 

"I cannot overemphasize this any stronger: overmedicating is very, very dangerous. It is bad, wrong, just plain dangerous. There are several side effects that can occur from this dangerous practice, from ulcers, which can result in bleeding, vomitting to diarrhoea, which can lead to infections. It can even result in death because persons with underlying conditions, such as kidney problems can develop serious complications by overdosing on these types of medication."  President of the Medical Association of Jamaica, Dr. Shane Alexis, issuing a warning to persons seeking treatment for their Chik-V symptoms 

"While we have improved the skills and capabilities of our officers to respond to such emergencies over the past years, the complex nature of today's emergencies has placed an even greater strain on our defence force to effectively carry out the duties assigned. We look forward to greater cooperation and collaboration with countries of the region through training and sharing of best practices that will enable us to build capacity in this critical area."  National Security minister Peter Bunting on the need for cooperation in the area of search and rescue operations, speaking at the 11th Conference of Defence Ministers of the Americas in Arequipa, Peru 

"If we are going to be a transparent and professional organization, we have to treat everyone, not just the men, equitably. We need to ensure that people are put in positions based on their abilities, and I see a lot of ability in the finer gender of this organization. In this force, we have some systemic barriers that prevent female officers from achieving their full potential and people are on the outside looking in." Commissioner of Police, Dr. Carl Williams, addressing last weekend's Police Officers' Association AGM in Montego Bay 

"People have been saying that we are our worst enemies because we should not have qualified for the World Cup in 1998. I say 'no.' I cannot agree with that. World Cup qualification is a competitive environment. No country has the right to continue to qualify for the World Cup. I think we are doing the best that we can."  JFF President Captain Horace Burrell responding to criticism over the Reggae Boyz' lacklustre results in international competition in recent years

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COMING HOME: Destiny wins you over with heart, humour, and island charm

EMBRACEABLE YOU: Romance blooms for Lisa (Sang) and Sean (Martin), the film's terrific young leads.

Apparently you can go home again, but it can be a journey fraught with obstacles and heartache. So discovers Lisa Pullen (Karian Sang), the gorgeous, privileged and radiantly intelligent young lady at the centre of Destiny, first-time filmmaker Jeremy Whittaker's ambitious and impressively done feature-film debut, replete with flattering visuals that showcase Jamaica's glorious natural beauty, no shortage of colourful and well-drawn island characters, and a healthy serving of family drama that compellingly reminds you that, when all is said and done, blood is indeed thicker than water.

Fresh out of college and grappling with a bit of fiance trouble, the Toronto-based Lisa gets summoned to Kingston by Lennox Baxter (Munair Zacca), an esteemed barrister who brings to her attention a piece of real estate she's inherited in the wake of a tragic accident that claimed Mom and Dad. Trouble is, Sandals wants to transform the land into prime beach-front property, so Lisa doesn't hesitate to sell. But not before getting dragged into an ugly paternity squabble with a woman (dancehall diva Spice as the ghetto-fabulous Candy Flower) who claims Lisa's dad fathered her young son. Far from backing down, Candy proves she's up for the fight, demanding fifty percent of the land.

To say the least, it's a situation that puts poor Lisa's mettle to the test and pushes her to the brink. Lucky for her, she finds solace in her dear Aunt Janet (Kerstin Whittaker) and cool cousin Mystic (Sabrina Colie), a mother-daughter pair based in the country with deep-rooted issues of their own. But things are looking sunny-side up for Lisa, when Sean (Chris Martin) enters the picture. The hottest young music act on the local scene, he sweeps her off her feet and shows her the social ropes. Before long, romance blooms. But, as it happens, Lisa's past is just a plane ride away.

Working with co-writer Paul O. Beale, Whittaker weaves an emotionally rich story that's brought to vivid life by highly commendable lead performances, frequently stunning imagery, and a seductive reggae soundtrack featuring some of our best musicians and vocalists.

Appealing as they are on their own, Sang (very Kardashian-esque) and Martin (all debonair charm) share a winning chemistry that lends the film its riveting anchor. But the most revelatory performance comes from Colie, whose tough-love coaching style as Mystic practically saves Lisa's life. As for the rest of the supersized supporting cast, it's a who's who of outstanding modern-generation acting talents, including Noelle Kerr (as Sean's always-on-the-scene ex); Kevoy Burton (Mystic's pilot boyfriend Daniel); Makeda Solomon (Sean's unlucky-in-love big sis) and Lyndon Forte, who pours on the ick as Michael, Lisa's sly, disloyal fiance with a controlling streak.

Overall, Destiny is absorbing, neatly paced and great to look at. But beneath all that gloss and surface glamour lurks real grit and real people dealing with real issues. A worthy addition to Jamaica's indigenous filmography, the movie reels you in with its heartfelt (and occasionally humorous) exploration of dignity and identity and self-discovery — and the ties that bind. It's a cinematic achievement of which we can all feel proud, not least because the central notion that home is where the heart is rings refreshingly true. Tyrone's Verdict: B+

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FAUX PAS: Mission Catwalk's Keneea Linton-George issues apology over "government worker" remark

HE SAID, SHE SAID: A comment aired on the hit show's Oct. 11 episode stirs controversy.

As fashion and local television become increasingly in tune, Mission Catwalk (now in its fourth season) got some extra attention last week, owing to a remark by hostess Keneea Linton-George about a contestant's fabric of choice resembling something a "government worker" would wear. 

The utterance, aired on the fashion reality series' October 11 episode, took many of the show's fans by surprise, including one individual who went so far as to express his grouse via a letter to the Gleaner's editor. Clearly, he felt very strongly about Linton-George's statement, which he described as "disparaging", "flippant and callous." 

"The remark was an insult to a cadre of persons who have been unswerving in their dedication to a national initiative to correct the macroeconomic indicators of the island and have done so through a series of sustained and consecutive wage freezes that commenced in 2009," he pointed out. "So the sackcloth that these government workers wear are testament to their sacrifice... Might I then implore the good lady to retract her statement and the producers to issue an apology to the thousands of government workers who might be a little less than kin and are a little more than kind." 

Responding to the charge with a sternly worded letter of her own, Linton-George sought to clear the air and more or less dress up her argument. "I in no way intended to offend any one person or a group of people with the remark. However, offence was taken and for this I apologize," the showrunner and executive producer explained. 

Spoken like a true lady. "I have the utmost respect and appreciation for government workers. My comment that the fabric looked like a government worker was based on the high-fashion nature of the competition in contrast to the conservative fabric chosen by the designer," she added. "My comment was not an attempt to offend and was completely taken out of context." 

Here at TALLAWAH, from day one we've been huge fans of the Mission Catwalk formula and the tireless efforts of Linton-George and her team of co-producers, sponsors and judges to keep the vision alive and push Caribbean fashion and amazing young design talents forward. So while the remark was indeed unfortunate (the apology crucial and tastefully done0, it goes to show that the fashion industry is still commanding attention and generating debate in some quarters - even if it's of a controversial stripe. 

As for Keneea Linton-George, passionate as she is about her fashion, she means absolutely no harm. If anything, her zest and her palpable zeal for the style industry across the Caribbean is nothing short of inspiring. Ambitious and highly driven, she's a trailblazer if ever there was one.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

IT TAKES A VILLAGE: Many Moods of Marcus fuses Garvey's teachings, vibrant community spirit

ON THE SPOT: Actors in a scene from the community drama at the Theatre Place.

Drawing on a commendable storytelling narrative, spirited stage presence and youthful energy, the Dance Xpressionz troupe recently brought aspects of the Marcus Garvey story to rousing life at the Theatre Place in New Kingston — a much-welcomed Heritage Week performance attended by scores of enthusiastic high-schoolers from across the Corporate Area who openly laughed and cheered as the action unfolded.

Many Moods of Marcus is a piece of community theatre fusing history, humour and dramatics, with the timeless teachings of the late great philosopher-activist (and Jamaica's first National Hero) to craft a vibrantly entertaining production that empowers and enlightens. Best of all, in spite of the limitations of set design and other technical matters, the edutainment approach worked really well and the applause that greeted the curtain call was deservedly resounding.

The Dance Xpressionz crew (led by their fearless Artistic Director Orville Hall) are not the most expressive or nuanced actors among today's ever-expanding galaxy of new-gen Jamaican performing-arts troupes. (They excel at modern dance, their core specialty, after all.) But these are naturally talented performers who know how to be convincing and relatable when it comes to spinning a uniquely Jamaican story, qualities that helped to elevate the show.

Special kudos to Intrique Cassells (saucy college chick Sabrina), Shavarr McFarlane (suave area newcomer Sheldon) and Stacey-Ann Facey (motherly Miss Marjorie,who runs the local cook shop), standouts in a strong 10-member cast.

Many Moods yields a realistic portrait of a small inner-city community whose residents have come together to form a Marcus Garvey club, intent on empowering the young minds and saving the community centre from demolition. But try as they may, they can't escape the scourge of crime, relationship drama, and youth-driven conflict that threaten to thwart their progress. Still, unity and optimism should always win in the end — and as the story affirms you can't go wrong with inspirational lessons from the Garvey school of thought. Tyrone's Verdict: B

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