October Dance Fest Happens on Queen’s Hall Stage

Lovers of dance are excited about October. Although it has not been officially declared the month of dance, three performances over consecutive weekends give that feeling of great celebration. Dance is part of T&T’s creative landscape and these performances, which will take place at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s starting from this weekend, are in the spotlight. “We are pleased to offer Queen’s Hall as a home for dance. Trinidad and Tobago’s talented choreographers and dance directors have an opportunity to showcase their worth. In so doing, they contribute to the legacy that began with the late and beloved Grande Dame of Dance Beryl McBurnie. Over the years, we have seen innovation and versatility in dance and we look forward to greater performances at every show,” said Yvonne Roberts White, General Manager at Queen’s Hall.
Opening the dance October series is the Noble Douglas Dance Company with the presentation Woman on Saturday and Sunday. The theme for this year’s presentation is uplifted from a piece choreographed by Heather Henderson-Gordon which carries the same title. “The piece deals with all aspects of how women are treated from slavery until now. Look at what is happening now. Like in slavery, women are being kidnapped and sold,” said artistic director Noble Douglas who founded the dance troupe, a premier contemporary modern dance company, in 1985. The theme also revolves around the contribution women have made to the artform. “A lot of women are involved in dance. It shows that they are the backbone. Women are in control,” Douglas added. Among the presentations are works by Alan Balfour and Charlene Harris; Meagan Rose-Navarro; and Delton Frank. Choreographer Kevin Jack will present the second part of a piece he produced in 2011. In addition, Douglas has her work titled “As the Sun Rises.” “The dance is based on J’ouvert,” Douglas explained. “It is accompanied by the calypso classic ‘Jouvert Barrio’ by the Roaring Lion.”
The following weekend, October 22 and 23, Marcia Charles Dance Theatre will be on stage with the show Inspire. “We are going to take the patrons on an emotional journey,” said Natasha Downer-Spence, a representative of the theatre. “The dances have captured emotions under the themes faith, freedom, hope, love, happiness and pride.” Among the items is a powerful solo, “Amazing Grace” – a tribute to Charles’ mother who passed away this year. Also on the programme is “Free as a Bird,” a balletic piece produced by the legendary Linda Pollard-Lake. The finale will be a 17-minute-long uninterrupted presentation called “Journey.” Under the theme Pride, the dance will celebrate Trinidad and Tobago, united by patriotic songs such as Denyse Pulmber’s Nah Leaving, Natasha Wilson’s Sweet T&T, MX Prime’s Fighter (anthem for Soca Warriors). The dance theatre is the dream of Marcia Charles, who founded and established the group in 1998. A dance performer since the age of 7, Charles’ emphasis has been folk dance but she has been exposed to jazz and modern over the years. Her dancers have participated in Carifesta, Best Village Dance Competition, and the 2009 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Trinidad. They have also been supporting acts for singer Ella Andall, calypsonian Singing Sandra, soca artistes Patrice Roberts and Benjai.
On the final weekend of October, the Contemporary Choreographers Collective will present Coco Dance Festival 2016. It is the largest annual contemporary dance festival in the English-speaking Caribbean which started in 2009. “There needed to be a space for young choreographers of Trinidad and Tobago to demonstrate their dances,” director Sonja Dumas explained. This year’s event is sectioned into two weekends, the first weekend will host dance cinema – a series of short films on dance at Little Carib Theatre. This is in partnership with the Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema of Colorado, which looks at how film makers have captured dance to tell a story. The second weekend (October 28 – 30) will feature the live choreography at Queen’s Hall. “We tried very hard to get choreographers from all over the Caribbean. We got hybrids, folks from the US who perform in T&T and Jamaica. We have reached a Pan Caribbean point now. We have Caribbean choreographers and extra-Regional ones,” Dumas said. Apart from the dance performances, the fifth annual Coco awards will be presented during one of the evening’s programmes.
From Dance, events at Queen’s Hall move to shows related to “Love” and “Jazz” in November. Featured events will include The Love Movement’s When Love Came Down, Francesco Emmanuel’s A Night of Guitar II, TT Youth Philharmonic’s Hearts Afire – A Tribute to Earth Wind and Fire’s Maurice White and Jazz aficionado Etienne Charles’ San Jose Suite. The Spanish Embassy’s Sixth Spanish Concert will showcase renowned Jazz Flamenco Flautist Jorge Pardo. Tickets for the dance performances and other events can be purchased at the Queen’s Hall box office located at 1 -3 St Ann’s Road, St Ann’s. For more information, please call 624-1284.