Wednesday, 20 May 2015

DANCING FEVER: Variety, versatility rule at high-energy Arts In The Park: Dance Edition

CAN'T STOP THE BEAT: L'Acadco Drummers whipping up African rhythms during the finale.

The Company Dance Theatre has become synonymous with vibrantly imaginative works that walk the fine line between high art and dazzling spectacle. So we knew what we were in for when the youthful troupe seized the spotlight at Hope Gardens on Sunday evening.

With the transporting, Tony Wilson-choreographed “Journey” the performers delivered one of the more memorable highlights of the evening at the inaugural dance edition of Arts in the Park, an increasingly popular cultural staple put on the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment as part of a continued initiative to showcase the best of Jamaica’s creative industries. A brilliant idea.

Set to a pulsating instrumental score, “Journey” opened with a commanding solo turn by Steven Cornwall, after which the nearly two dozen or so supporting dancers appeared centrestage, displaying graceful and agile movements with the kind of minimalist costuming that always puts the limbs to effective use.

As far as local terpsichorean feasts go (think Jamaica Dance Umbrella and the Edna Manley College’s Danceworks), Arts In The Park’s dance edition catered to all kinds of tastes, drawing a mammoth crowd that departed Hope Gardens more than satisfied.

From the rapturous euphoria of “Lifted” performed by the blue-and-white clad One Body One God ensemble to the hyperkinetic and modern dancehall stylings of the Orville Hall-led Dance Expressionz (“Evolution”) to L’Acadco’s fascination with Afrocentric rhythms, motifs and movements, the versatility and variety was unbearable.

Add to that the few surprising moments thrown into the mix, chief among them a seven-minute stint by Raddy Rich, whose superstylish street-meets-avant-garde footwork captivated the crowd. The equally creative Equinoxx Shankers later rocked the stage with the very witty “Master at Work” while the crazy kids of Shady Squad managed to cleverly fuse comedy with their own edgy dance interpretations of the latest local hit songs to score a resounding mix of laughs and cheers.

And what better way to bring the curtains down on a fierce talent show than with a jaw-dropping combination of a solo spotlight (Shem Heliodore), thunderous drumming straight out of the Motherland (L’Acadco Drummers) and a fire-breathing spectacle to ratchet up the visual interest. Ah, to ever expect the unexpected.




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