MUSIC MEN: Ahead of the dance presentation, performances came from D-Burnz and Kevin Downswell (inset).
THERE was hardly a more fitting way to treat conference delegates to a slice of their beloved culture than with a special performance of the National Dance Theatre Company’s 2017 season of dance. And so it was that the NDTC’s 55th annual presentation drew a flock of attendees from the Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference to the grounds of the Little Theatre on Monday for an evening of quality dance theatre, original Jamaican food, a bit of live music and connection.
Ahead of the performance, guests mingled out in the yard and nibbled on fresh-from-the-pan jerked chicken and bread, soup, boiled corn, gizzardas, grater cake, sugar cane, Devon House ice cream – and washed it all down with (freshly chopped) coconut water and jelly and their choice of beverage from the well-stocked juice bar.
Amidst the fun, food and fellowship, the band on the stand, DMG (led by vocalist D-Burnz and ubermusician Djenne Greaves), offered groovy selections from the Jamaican songbook – a mix of standards and classics popularized by such icons as Bob Marley and Beres Hammond.
Among the famous faces in the crowd: Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith, Dr. Laura Tanna, Hillary Phillips, Oliver Clarke, Milton Samuda, Gina Hargitay and Earl Jarrett. Before the NDTC dancers took centrestage, gospel minister Kevin Downswell opened the show (close to 8:30pm), with a mélange of his biggest hits, including “Stronger” and “Goodbye World.”
Then it was time for the main course, with the iconic company dipping into their celebrated repertoire to present such spirited works ad Rex Nettleford’s “The Crossing”, Marlon Simms’ “Beres on Love” and “Gerrehbenta,” Nettleford’s timeless classic and perennial crowdpleaser.