More than Conquerors, a ministry of movement
WITH OVER 70 per cent of the dances choreographed to gospel music, the closing concert for Movements Dance Company of Jamaica’s 35th anniversary season, which recently concluded under the theme, ‘More than Conquerors’, was more than just a dance show, it was a ministry.
Colourful lighting, well designed costumes and appropriate set all came together well to enhance the works of artistic director Monica Campbell-McFarlane, Christopher Huggins and Patrick Johnson. All elements were nicely packaged and delivered with precision, unison and high energy by the dance ensemble.
When the curtains of The Little Theatre opened, the first of seven, and Campbell-McFarlane’s four dances, got the programme going. Costumed in yellow and green, the dancers delighted the audience with an entertaining performance of the 2016 choreographed ‘Liv Light’. Always moving as one body, they rocked, reached and stepped to the music of Chronixx.
HIGH ON SPECTACLE
But it was Campbell-McFarlane’s 2012 choreography, ‘Bread of Life’, that started the gospel rain. Not only was the dance engaging, but it was high on spectacle. A huge moon hung over the stage, a blue lit cyclorama and dancers costumed in white reinforced the heavenly theme. But while the choreography was creatively executed, it was marred somewhat by over-emoting from the dancers.
The artistic director’s choreographed ‘Searchlight’ (2015) and her 2016-premiered ‘In the Garden’ also reflected the gospel theme. Again, the dancers moved in unison with confidence. In ‘Searchlight’, their colourful costumes along with fitting lighting, provided the spectacle. Not so for ‘In the Garden’, where costume designers, Norman Russell and Arlene Richards, went for period costumes, and Campbell-McFarlane’s choice of a tree branch to symbolise the garden. It was left up to the performers to show the “... challenges and triumph of Gethsemane”, and they did so convincingly.
Guest choreographer Huggins’ earth shattering 2016 ‘Father, Father’ lived up to its billing. The fast-paced dance saw the performers wearing full brown in perpetual motion. They moved in horizontal, vertical, diagonal and finally concluding in a straight line across the down stage areas.
The American 2011 ‘Wrath of God’ was the curtain closer. It, too, was powerful in patterns, riveting in execution, and sobering in the black designed costumes.
Johnson’s 2001 ‘Pathway’ was a deviation from the gospel. It was also not just a dance, it was a dialogue in shapes and beautiful body extensions. The conversation was timely executed, too, by the two dancers, a male and a female. Wearing unitards of the same shades, they moved in and out of formations with ease and grace. And when they ended their display of spatial exploration, the audience showed their approval with thunderous applause.
Overall, the show was a pleasant affair and was devoid of the customary excessive screams from relatives and friends of the dancers.
Pathways, choreographed by Patrick Johnson.
Bread of Life, choreographed by Monica Campbell-McFarlane.
Searchlight, choreographed by Monica CampbellMcFarlane.