JAMAICA’S TOP DANCERS

Marlon Simms and Keita-Marie Chamberlain in Rex Nettleford’s “Kumina.”
Photo by Bryan Robinson

Brooklyn is the flagship stop for performances by Jamaica’s National Dance Theatre Company when they celebrate their 50th anniversary year and simultaneously commemorate the nation’s golden independent status.

Slated for a two-day appearance at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College on March 24 and 25, the first will offer an 8:00 p.m. evening performance and a matinee at 3:00 p.m. the following afternoon.

The company will perform two programs of dance and music celebrating Caribbean culture and the 50th anniversary of the company founded by Rex Nettleford and Eddy Thomas and endorsed by the Ministry of Development and Welfare. Their intention was to establish a definitive Caribbean dance theatre that would link a varied and versatile group.

With only 18 original members representing a diverse mixture of artists with differing backgrounds in dance training they worked together for three years, from 1959-1962, to form a national company.

According to its own archives:“The NDTC has survived on a vision of dancing on its own feet, capturing the rhythms, body language and aesthetics of a people who have lived for over three centuries under British rule and a total of 400 years under slavery and the plantation system. Its dancers, choreographers, musicians and designers have continuously striven to communicate these experiences and are dedicated to the creation of works rooted in the Jamaican and Caribbean cultural experience.”

NDTC has gained an international reputation, garnering both critical and popular acclaim throughout the world. The company boasts a hectic tour schedule encompassing more than 100 international dates to North America, Europe, the former USSR, Australia, the United Kingdom, Latin America and Puerto Rico.

Artistic director for the NDTC is Barrington Moncrieffe.

Marjorie Whylie is its musical director.

The 2012 program features:

Drumscore (1979) — choreography by Rex Nettleford, featuring the NDTC singers

Minutes and Seconds (2010) — choreography by Kerry-Ann Henry and Momo Sanno

Cry of the Spirit (1996) — choreography by Gene Carson

Sweet in the Morning (1992) — choreography by Leni Wylliams

Urban Fissure (2004) — choreography by Chris Walker

Sulkari (1980) — choreography by Eduardo Rivero-Walker

Gerrehbenta (1983) — choreography by Rex Nettleford, featuring the NDTC singers

Kumina (1971) — choreography by Rex Nettleford, featuring the NDTC singers.

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