Hon­our­ing Vir­ginia Alexan­der, 4 Decades of Dance

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

Clau­dia Elei­box

On Sun­day 1st May, many peo­ple who ap­pre­ci­ate art and cul­ture gath­ered at the Na­tional Cul­tural Cen­tre. There, the Cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Foun­da­tion pro­duced and hosted the sec­ond vol­ume in the Cul­tural Icons se­ries. This year’s pro­duc­tion was a tribute to Vir­ginia Alexan­der and four decades of dance in Saint Lu­cia. Vir­ginia Alexan­der, or “Aunty Vir­gie”, spent most of her life in the art of dance and con­trib­uted im­mensely to the cul­tural so­ci­ety of the is­land. Many of Saint Lu­cia’s prom­i­nent dancers first at­tended her Les En­fants Dance Troupe.

At­tract­ing a full house, al­though be­gin­ning af­ter the ad­ver­tised time, the show flowed with as much grace as the dancers. The space was dec­o­rated del­i­cately with blue and gold. Pro­grammes with de­tail about the var­i­ous dancers and the project were handed out so that pa­trons were well in­formed dur­ing the show. On the first page is a mes­sage from Her Ex­cel­lency Gover­nor Gen­eral Dame Pear­lette Louisy com­mend­ing the project and at the end a mes­sage from CDF about the rea­sons for its work.

All toes were pointed and proper pos­tures were kept dur­ing the en­tire per­for­mance. Weeks of hard work and lengthy prac­tices truly showed. Chore­og­ra­phers in­cluded Barry Ge­orge, Trevor King, Sha­keena Pres­i­dent-Beck­ford, Shem He­liodore, Mi­cole Au­bertin-Mur­ray and Ta­nia Isaac, all hav­ing roots in Saint Lu­cia. Cos­tum­ing was sen­si­tively planned and suited for ev­ery num­ber, from the float­ing and fly­ing ef­fect, as for “Black Bird”, to that of min­i­mal cov­er­ing in He­liodore’s “In­ner Map­pings” solo. The mu­sic was also care­fully cho­sen with live per­for­mances from drum­mers Che Alphonse, Au­gustin Comp­ton, Ja­son Al­cide, Joseph Jean and Niger Nestor, and from vi­o­lin­ist Chrysyn Harp.

Through­out the pro­duc­tion, pictures and notes of Aunty Vir­gie were shown on a pro­jected screen. Some per­for­mances, like “Let­ter to Vir­gie” per­formed by lead chore­og­ra­pher Trevor King, were di­rect trib­utes and some were an ex­cit­ing mix­ture of an­ces­tral and folk dance with live drum­ming. “Way Back Jam” was one of those, and it was beau­ti­fully cos­tumed with vi­brant colours and lively skirts. There was also the pleas­ant ap­pear­ance of Michael “Ikeal” Fran­cis, Carl­ton Is­mael and An­thony “Cocky” JnBap­tiste in that num­ber.

The per­for­mance by Ki­raly Saint Claire and Anna-Kay Gayle of “Un­ti­tled” re­ceived the most re­sound­ing round of ap­plause. It was an out­stand­ing per­for­mance ex­hibit­ing tal­ent and ex­cep­tional tech­nique from the duo. The au­di­ence seemed to be in silent awe un­til the end when there was a burst of sound.

“Shadow of Bianca” was an­other in­ter­est­ing per­for­mance with videog­ra­phy of Dar­cel Fred­er­ick­O­sei while Ni­cole St-Croix ap­peared on stage per­form­ing the same dance.

The fi­nale of the show in­cluded the cast­ing call and a small awards cer­e­mony for those who helped bring the show to fruition, the daugh­ter of Vir­ginia Alexan­der and other dance pi­o­neers.

The pro­duc­tion ef­fec­tively ful­filled its pur­pose, show­ing the true mean­ing and di­ver­sity of dance, es­pe­cially in the Caribbean. Younger peo­ple like my­self, who did not get to ex­pe­ri­ence Vir­ginia Alexan­der in her glory, left the event bet­ter in­formed about her and her work.

The am­bi­ence cre­ated was filled with pas­sion, and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the art of dance and mu­sic. If you were not there then you def­i­nitely missed out on a beau­ti­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.

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