The Company Dance Theatre, The Tony Wilson School of Modern Dance and Adult Evening Classes form The Dance Centre, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Each branch will be celebrating this milestone in their respective seasons of dance concerts in November and December.
On Saturday, the 30th anniversary celebration began at the Courtleigh Auditorium, New Kingston, with a well attended Spring Gala, An Evening of Dance. Organised by The Dance Centre in collaboration with The Company Dance Theatre and The Tony Wilson Junior Department, the programme not only provided a taste of the upcoming seasons of dance concerts but also highlighted individuals who have contributed to the growth and development of the centre. Each was presented with an award.
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The dances were interspersed by awards presentations in three categories – the Next Generation and Second Generations, who received plaques, and those who have worked mainly behind the scenes who received certificates of appreciation. Among the awardees were RenÈe McDonald, Winsome Dawson and Sharon Jackson.
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McDonald, who was in the Next Generation Category said “it was very exciting for me and I am very appreciative”. A grateful, Dawson was recognised for being the first adult dancer. At 78 years old, she still attends the classes for the same reason she started 30 years ago – “for exercises.” Jackson has been working in the Costumes department for the past 25 years, beginning when her daughter started dancing at the centre. “It makes me feel good,” she told The Gleaner . Some of the costumes worn in the last dance of Saturday‘s show, an excerpt from ‘Calabash’ choreographed by Tony Wilson, were sewn by Jackson, “Mr Wilson reminded me,” she said.
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The dancers were from different sections and levels of the centre, including students of Teens 1, students of Level 3, and The Company Dance Theatre. Most gave good accounts of Wilson‘s choreographies. The 2018 gospel dance ‘Take me to the Water’ got the show going with students of Level 3 – The Junior Ensemble and The Company Dance Theatre. Costumed in full white, they moved with control, grace and elegance, giving the show a fine start
Of the 10 dances on the programme, Wilson was responsible for choreographing nine, four of them new. In addition to ‘Take me to the Water’, the other new choreographies were ‘Soldier of Love’, ‘Alicia’ and ‘Symphonic … Whitney’. Some dances choreographed by Wilson for previous seasons were remounted. They included an excerpt from the 2010 ‘Rejoice’ and ‘Shadowland’ (1999), along with ‘Calabash’
McDonald‘s ‘One80’ (2016), danced by Courtney Payne, also made the cut
The engaging dances, witty remarks from MC Emily Shields, and the show of appreciation provided an appetiser for what is to come later this year