A review of "Celebrating the Dream" by the Waitukubuli Dance Theatre Company
Celebrating the dream, one which the Waitukubuli Dance Theatre Company started 45 years ago was observed in dance, color and sound two weekends ago at the Arawak House of Culture.
The dance group started the show bang on time; that group, the Sisserou Singers and NDT are the three groups which have the reputation of starting their activities on time in Dominica. The first section of the programme was one of praise to God and so the songs and dance paid homage to the Maker for the many blessings bestowed upon our island and our lives.
It all began with the seniors dancing against a backdrop of verdant green forest representing the Nature Island. Raymond Lawrence, the director and founder of the group, took the responsibility to choreograph all the senior dances and serve as Master of Ceremonies. "Praise Him with Dance", quite appropriately, was the opening number which set the tone for the level of precision and professionalism that was to follow.
After the seniors' act the juniors graced the stage dancing to 'Never Give Up' by Gospel star Yolanda Adams, to the theme titled "Keep the Dream Alive." Appropriately it was the juniors who choreograph this message as they represent the future, ambitions and dreams of the dance company. Dorelle Diolen, probably Dominica's leading creative dancer, and the assistant director of Waitukubuli, was entrusted to direct and choreograph all of the intermediate dances as well as designing the costumes. "Nobody Greater" performed by Vashawn Mitchell was her opening piece for the intermediates.
I was particularly moved by the senior's presentation of "My Nation, My Home" and "Evolution" songs I consider to be Michele Henderson's best composition ever published in "Home" and "Evolution" respectively.
If you were not there one could only just imagine the how Raymond Lawrence was able to capture the haunting elements and the patriotic nature of the songs with dominant green costumes representing a historical perspective of Dominica; from the Caribs to the Africans to the traditions of baskets and market day. Also quite interestingly, even the men used their bow and arrow bringing to an end the 'evolution' with long sticks depicting bamboo rafters of a traditional Kalinago hut.
The theatre group also presented a tribute to Dominica's resilience in "Rise Up" having risen up as a people from the claws of Tropical Storm Erika. Scott Dorsette, Curvelle Woodman and Tricia Louis choreography skills were brought to bear on the junior section presentations of " Body in Motion", "Reaching," "Caribbean Mix "and on a solo piece wonderfully executed by Naomi Bannis in a dance directed by Tricia Louis.
The sole male dancer in the junior section was a hit; he really enjoyed what he did as he immersed himself in every dance on stage. Of course Dorelle Diolen was, as usual, at her experienced best while the multi-faceted Shirvon Baron and Scott Dorsette stood out among the males.
Apart from songs from Michele other local compositions from Carlyn XP Janet Azzous, Jahlee, WCK and Dada Lawrence, one of the island's leading music producers, were all utilized in this night of color and bodies in motion.
When the intermission arrived, the artistic director who doubled as MC reiterated words of commendation and recognition for Dr. Alwin Bully for his amazing career and contribution to arts and culture in Dominica, the region and beyond. This recognition was formalized on the opening night.
Part two was even more energetic as all the songs featured Afro- Caribbean beats with an emphasis on Calypso from TNT. Nonetheless the highlight of the evening was the dance drama presentation of the traditional "Pappy Show Wedding". This provided real comic relief and sent the audience in frenzy.
The anniversary show ended with a spectacular display of colour, Bwa-bwa, Sensay carnival -like atmosphere with WCKs 767.
I can only account for night two and can report of the high standards presented by some 40 dancers in three categories with such grace, beautiful fabric and splendour. No doubt this took a lot of rehearsals and dedication at some four venues.
A 45th anniversary of such quality deserves much greater support by the public for the longest surviving cultural group on island. Instead, once again, we chose 'sewo' over wholesome talent of the highest quality.