Last update: 05-Dec-2013 3:57 pm
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
Dance spirit of Andre Ettienne lives on
When I arrived at Queen’s Hall, St Ann's, on Friday night, my heart sank as there were just four patrons in the Hall for Symbolic Retentions, the 2013 production by Andre Ettienne Dance Company.
I thought, ‘Where were the many people who knew this dance choreographer who was so popular back in the ’70s with the likes of Julia Edwards, Carlton Francis, Joyce Kirton and Aubrey Adams Ambakaila’?
But then things seemed to improve with the arrival of ‘old school dancers’ Andre Largen, Claudia Applewhite and Heather Henderson, now Gordon, as well as younger Arabian dancer Nalini Akal.
The Andre Ettienne Group is actually an offspring of the Julia Edwards Company. In his heyday, Ettienne toured and performed extensively, thrilling audiences in Montreal, Miami, Venezuela and in many Franco-Caribbean territories.
He also tutored many groups nationwide in the Prime Minister's Best Village Trophy Competition and was widely sought for his exhilarating 'sailor dance'. Ettienne died in 2007 at the age of 79, leaving his company behind as his legacy.
The programme began at 7.45 pm with Sacred Sentiment, choreographed by veteran dancer Gregor Breedy, and performed by the senior company. In fact, Breedy choreographed most the the 25 items performed on the night. Some of Ettienne’s choreograophy was also reprised, as well as pieces by Rachel Lee, Jodi Akal, Ian Baptiste, Michael Mortley and past national Limbo champion Nydia Byron.
My spirit was lifted by the fifth item – Onile (Spirit of the Earth) – as there was a capacity-filled audience in attendance to witness the remainder of the programme. The first stanza of the production comprised 12 pieces. Among them, the standout items included a solo by Kerry Ann Sealy, titled Crossing Barriers, and Abi (Birthed), a dance by Mortley, a homage to Irisa diety Shango, infused by the music of Ella Andall.
Apart from well rehearsed choreography for every item, I was impressed by the company’s costuming, a relevant and well designed outfit for every item.
The programme’s first half ended with two Ettienne-choreographed pieces; his trademark, tradition sailor dance and an African dance from the 70s movie The Man From Africa.
Intermission was taken at 8.45 pm and promptly, 20 minutes after, the programme resumed with Thraldom (In Bondage), performed to the beautiful music of Jill Scott, Kelly Price, Marsha Ambrosius and Ledisi.
Another 12 pieces comprised the second half, this time featuring guest performances by vocalist Anastasia Richardson, rendering the hymn How Great Thou Art; and, a dance solo – The Early Days – by Deon Baptiste.
Apart from the traditional folk pieces, the company displayed its versatility in the second half of the programme by also including East Indian and Syrian/Lebanese dances.
The show ended at 10.15pm with a tribute to past dancer Kathy Ann Sandy who died last May.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.