By Christopher Tobutt
The Cayman Islands National Dance Company celebrated 33 wonderful years of spectacular dance with ‘Gratitude,’ at the Harquail Theatre on 5 and 6 June. It’s a great title, because the company which started with Lorna Reid and just a handful of dancers who shared a vision for bringing the best of dance to Cayman, has nurtured many thousands of dancers since, from primary school age and up, in all kinds of dance at all levels. So a huge thank you to Lorna Reid, whose Artistic Director mantle has now passed to Jessica Eden.
“Tonight we share with you our gratitude. We are grateful for our experiences that have allowed ups to pay homage to all that we have been through and a vision of what we will become. Within each of us we are discovering that unique spark that lights a fire of joy which continuously motivates us and has led us to where we are,” Jessica Eden said.
The dancers are divided into “apprentice dancers,” and “company dancers”.
The first dance was a reflective work, called Remember, There a woman in a blue dress sat, remembering many things. A dancer, perhaps her at a younger age, came from the opposite side of the stage and entranced the audience with the beauty and grace of her movements, urging the woman to get up once again and join her in the dance of life.
‘Drums of Joy,’ choreographed by Monique Frederick, celebrated the river of life and all that it can offer. Next came ‘Trice,’ Choreographed by Lorna Reid. ‘Inner Mysteries’ used dance to evoke the sense of wonder encountered in an inward journey of the soul, and ‘Victory’ was a high-energy interpretation of Yolanda Adam’s ‘Victory,’ celebrating the victory we have in Christ. ‘Programme,’ choreographed by Devon Wellington, and revised by Jessica Eden and Ica Eden-Martin was where the company dancers and apprentices got together to enchant and surprise. The next dance, ‘Ese Pasito, interpreted the Indian fusion music, ‘Taki Taki,’ Me Time was a soulful interpretation of Tracy Chapman’s classic song. The last dance before the intermission, Burn it Up was when the dance apprentices showed us all just what they could do.
In the second half, On the Edge was all about anxiety and depression and despair, and expertly interpreted by the dancers. It’s good to see dark things being interpreted by art as well as bright things, because art helps us to understand ourselves better. ‘Amazing Love’ celebrated God’s unconditional love, which can be shown and received by each of us. ‘Eternal Vows’ was a very beautiful dance exploring the love between a man and a woman, and the way we feel when we believe we have found that special person. ‘The Blessing’ closed the show, as the grand finale, as many dancers were recognized and presented with beautiful bouquets of flowers.