HAPPY FEET: Performers during a scene from Thomas' Ngoron/Bao.
With its moody, atmospheric staging, nimble choreography, and some fine examples of poetry in motion, the School of Dance's Danceworks 2013 (their 17th staging dubbed Dancestry) delivers a diverse package and a fascinating showcase of the collaborative efforts between the school's excellent faculty and supremely talented first-, second-, third- and fourth-year students.
As one has come to expect from Jamaican dance recitals featuring Caribbean ideology and vocabulary, the inclusion of Afrocentric influences is a given, offering a nod to our African heritage. To this end, third-year choreographer Tamara Thomas offers a lively fusion of African rhythms (live drumming included) with the hyperenergetic, lushly costumed Ngoron/Bao, which brings a delightful close to the show. Her folkloric, all-white Obatala also manages to intrigue with its spirited, if a tad eccentric, meditation on Yoruban mythology.
Though a few pieces are much too short to offer utter satisfaction, the other standouts among the night's nine-piece repertory include the dynamic Atomic from Carreen Walton, featuring music by Radiohead and The Chosen, a ghostly piece marked by dazzlingly white costuming, gorgeous lighting, and an ethereally graceful quartet of dancers.
Orville McFarlane rigorously explores abuse and agony with the captivating That Woman's Lament, featuring an aptly mournful score, while Shamar Bruce tackles dangerous, furious love with the electrifying pas de deux What Remains, starring Bruce himself and a convincing Shannon Mason.
Fresh from its well-received debut at the Kingston Book Festival, Neila Ebanks' Notes from Edna remains an introspective and fluidly performed delight, while Abeldo Gonzalez's Experimento provides a seductive exploration of the Cuban modern technique with haunting music by Jean Michel Jarre.
Danceworks 2013 continues at the School of Dance, Edna Manley College, from April 11 through 14.