INTO THE BLUE: The company in performance at the Little Theatre in Kingston.
Dance Theatre Xaymaca has come of age. At 18, the widely known Jamaican troupe has seemingly graduated to a more sophisticated aesthetic, marked by noticeably mature choreography (often with a touch of playfulness) that certainly elevated their just-concluded 2013 season, a deliriously entertaining tapestry of moods, dazzling lighting and compelling movement in keeping with this year's Phoenix motif.
Featuring nine well-executed works exploring everything from existence and the spirit of Africa to athletic prowess, spirituality and love in all its guises, Saturday night's gala performance drew rave responses from audience members. While guest choreographer Michael Holgate's "Jamafrique" is a riotous celebration of Afrocentric soul and power, Artistic Director Barbara McDaniel's "Motherland" takes a deeply ritualistic approach to highlighting the pulsating beat and (and energy) of the continent.
Among the other notable highlights: Jair Jones' stellar remounting of Dwayne Barnaby's red-hot dazzler "Quest"; Kameica Reid's fascinating survival-of-the-fittest meditation "The Hunt" and Arsenio Andrade's sporting-pride-and-glory piece "Destiny," also revived by Jones, a serious young talent to watch. Meantime, Orrett Beckford's beautifully staged "Echoes of Praise" comes off as a foot-stomping flurry of white and boldly vibrant hues, set to blockbuster singing by the Soweto Gospel Choir and the Kurt Carr Singers.
Dancers must not only move and feel but also, as Dance Theatre Xaymaca's impressively fit and free-spirited cast makes vividly clear, rise to the occasion.