Dance Mogul: How does the NDTC bring together Jamaica’s culture and present it visually through the arts?
NDTC: The NDTC derives its style and approach to dance theatre by a study of Jamaica’s traditional folk forms. The folk culture of music and dance and the idiosyncrasies that make us uniquely Jamaican are abstracted, distilled and experimented with in a laboratory-like environment to create works of excellence comparable to any other across the world. There is the story telling aspect, which is important in Jamaican history and culture, exploration of rhythm and form, investigation of the physical environment and how is impacts relationships, people etc. Due consideration is given to staging these works on a proscenium stage without losing the essence or cultural nuances and references.
Dance Mogul: What are some important facts about Jamaica’s dance culture that we may not know but need to know?
NDTC: Jamaican dance culture is very vibrant, dynamic and multi-textured whether it’s experienced through religious practices, social gatherings, dance theatre, dance education at the secondary and tertiary level, dance competitions through the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission or Dance shows on television or in entertainment made known or popular to the world through our musical forms – ska, rocksteady, reggae and the popular dancehall culture.
To be Jamaican is to be exposed to dance at an early age and to understand that Jamaica is a dancing culture influenced greatly by the strong African retention.
Dance Mogul: What can audiences expect from your upcoming performances?
NDTC: Audience can expect a great experience of Jamaican and Caribbean culture through music, song and dance.
The wide ranging repertoire of the NDTC which includes works by the former artistic director and co-founder Prof. Rex Nettleford from a work he did as early as 1963, “Dialogue for Three” to the iconic “Kumina” which he himself choreographed and dance in before retiring the role to the present Associate Artistic Director Marlon Simms. Live music is a major part of the performance with collaborative works with the Singers, Musicians and Dancers with the Singers being showcased as an act on their own in “Play Time”. Our repertoire captures the Yoruba traditions of Cuba in a masterwork by Eduardo Rivero-Walker called “Sulkari”. There is fresh talent in the body of dancers, musicians and singers who are sure to inspire and captivate the audience with their highly trained skills, extraordinary performance talent and intense passion which forms part of the life blood of Jamaican and Caribbean people. Chris Walker, who emerged from the new generation members as an exemplary choreographer, offers “Rough Drafts” which is a folk based contemporary work. It is sure to give insight into the constant experimentation of folk forms which provides the well-spring for contemporary explorations and fodder for the creative imagination.
Dance Mogul: Is there anyone you would like to thank for helping to put this production together?
NDTC: There is an extraordinary team of members at the NDTC, some of whom wear many hats to keep the NDTC running like a well oiled machine. We owe a debt of gratitude to the entire NDTC family of Singers, Musicians, Dancers, Creative Technicians and Administrators. Thanks also to the very supportive Rex Nettleford Foundation and to our extended family at the Brooklyn College who over the years have formed a very deep bond with us and are considered our extended family.
About National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica (NDTC)National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) is a voluntary group of dancers, singers, musicians and creative technicians who are dedicated to the view that their work in dance can help to bring discipline, a sense of process and cultural awareness to the awesome task of nation-building. The search for a definitive Caribbean dance theater linked a varied and versatile group together to make this goal a reality. During its five decades of existence the NDTC has achieved a reputation for artistic excellence developing much of its repertoire from authentic folk material. The entirely Jamaican ensemble has performed in Europe, North, Central and South America, Australia and the wider Caribbean meeting with unqualified success and establishing for itself a laudable international reputation.
Barry Moncrieffe (Artistic Director), former Associate Director and long-standing lead dancer with the NDTC, Mr. Moncrieffe has served as “the clay” on which many leading male roles in NDTC’s repertoire were molded for some three decades. Mr. Moncrieffe did early training in Eddy Thomas Dance Workshop, in summer schools at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus and later on scholarship at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York. The Company’s principal dance tutor and senior lecturer in dance at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (School of Dance), he has also taught and performed in the Caribbean, Germany, England, China, Finland and at Vassar College in the United States. He appeared with the last States-wide tour by the famous Anna Sokolow before finally returning to his native Jamaica and NDTC. A Musgrave Medalist and more recently a National Honours Award Recipient (Commander of Distinction, CD), he made his debut as a choreographer for NDTC in 2002 with a dance-work based on Bruckins Party in collaboration with Founding Member and dance icon Joyce Campbell.
Ewan Simpson (Musical Director), Attorney-at-Law, holds a Master of Laws (LL.M) in Intellectual Property Law, from the University of Turin (Italy). A creative and analytical mind, Simpson wears many hats and can be described as a young veteran in the Jamaican entertainment arena. He has a wealth of experience in production and events management, and has been a production and entertainment consultant to major entertainment stakeholders, including the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival for which he has been appointed Associate Producer. He is also a mentor, advocate, and lecturer in the areas of Intellectual Property Law, Entertainment Law and Artist Management, and has co-hosted or appeared as guest presenter on several radio talk shows, addressing areas of concern to the enhancement and development of the creative industries in Jamaica.