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 Nettleford’s Dialogue for Three, featuring (from left) Marisa Benain, Marlon Simms, and Kerry-Ann Henry. (Photos: Bryan Cummings)—

THE Rex Nettleford Foundation, established in memory of the academic and cultural figure, continues its work to keep his memory alive.

On Tuesday, a capacity audience gathered at the Little Theatre in St Andrew to remember Nettleford, raise funds for the work of the foundation, and enjoy performances by two of the cultural institutions with which he was connected.

Remembering Rex saw the University Singers and the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), which he co-founded, performing pieces from their active repertoire which reflected a diversity reminiscent of Nettleford himself — deeply rooted in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean but having a global outlook.

The University Singers showcased their range moving from the classic Alleluia to a soothing rendition of When the Road Seems Rough, featuring the solo work of contralto Kimone Johnson. David Sprunger’s Give Me Wings took flight inside the theatre and was highly appreciated.

Tenor Roy Thompson never fails to delight his audience and on Tuesday night it was his rendition of Without a Song from the musical Great Day which caught the ear.

But it was the never-ending saga of Man and Woman Story arranged for the ‘Singers’ by Noel Dexter which went over best.

This suite utilises popular songs from the folk music genre to speak to falling in love, falling out of love, and back in again.

This humorous take on affairs of the heart resonated with the audience and was met with resounding applause.

Like the music of the evening, the dance was also varied.

Rex Nettleford

Rex Nettleford

The work of Nettleford was at the top and tail of the dance programme. For openers, it was his 52-year-old work Dialogue for Three (choreographed in 1963). The universal love triangle story was beautifully told by dancers Marisa Benain, Kerry-Ann Henry and Marlon Simms set off by the guitar music of Joaquin Rodrigo.

The sensuality of Cuban culture came to the fore with an excerpt from Dimensions, choreographed by the Cuban Arsenio Andrade Calderon. Here the expressive lines and form of ballet mistress Kerry-Ann Henry are juxtaposed against the physicality of Mark Phinn. This results in a pleasing presentation.

Jamaica was the next stop for the dancers and the words and music of composer Mapletoft Poulle’s I Saw My Land In the Morning formed the backdrop for the piece of the same name performed by the company. This work was buttressed by the live vocals of Earl Brown, Leighton Jones, Conrod Hall and Joseph Roach.

The company’s slate of dancers would return for the night’s final piece, Nettleford’s seminal work Gerrehbenta — an ode to two traditional rites in Jamaica. This colourful NDTC favourite would bring the curtains down.

— By Richard Johnson

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