Under the theme Sankofa: A Night of Discoveries, lithe, rhythmic movements narrated a range of topical issues during the 2023 National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) Dance Final.
Following on the heels of judging in music and theatre arts earlier in the week, a sold-out crowd gathered at the Frank Collymore Hall on Thursday night to watch talented dancers bring the stage to life through their craft.
A brilliant performance came from the Multifarious Dance Crew. Appearing as the penultimate act of the night, they displayed the star power which has earned them a host of awards. Drawing inspiration from the 90s animation Pinky and the Brain, their entry B.F.A.B (Born from a Boom Box) portrayed the aftermath of an experiment gone awry in the quest for world domination.
Blending various dance styles and musical genres with a hint of comedy, their impressive routine was a definite high point. There was a chorus of approval as soon as they were finished, with one audience member gushing, “That was epic”.
Delivering an impactful presentation were Akil Ifill and his partner Faith. Ifill, a prominent educator, stepped into this new role fueled by his desire to see more males involved in dance.
Backed by a live instrumentalist on stage, the duo looked at ease and there were no signs of inexperience during Bittersweet Chapter One.
As their rollercoaster romance unfolded, the enthused audience was left eagerly anticipating the next phase of their story.
The diverse issues the finalists delved into included depression, mental health, and suicide.
Using a rope tied in a noose for dramatic effect, the Friendship Community Centre poignantly depicted the mental anguish experienced by individuals grappling with trauma in the emotionally charged The Box. While this piece ended on a positive note, One More Day, performed by Dreaming Black Boy Productionz and choreographed by Kemal Marshall, captured the resultant grief of losing a loved one who could not overcome that inner turmoil.
Marshall also showed his skill with the solo piece State of Recovery.
Among the thought-provoking pieces was Time by Bajans in Movement. Choreographed by Carolyn Brathwaite, the dancers simulated movements of the clock, and the accompanying narrative by spoken word artiste Adrian Greene accentuated their message.
Many of the presentations radiated resilience.
Healing by the Eleve Performing Arts Centre and two separate presentations titled Rescue by Kendra Leacock and Issachar Arts developed that theme. Female empowerment resonated strongly in K-Eve’s (School of Performing Arts) Feminine Synergy.
In celebration of the 160th anniversary of the Barbados Landship, homage was paid to the group by the Ellerslie School with ELS Wise Vanguard and the Haynesville Youth Club, with Celebrating Our Heritage. They skillfully incorporated the rhythmic tones of their own drummers.
The latter also provided a cultural showcase with Nigbe Gbekebi. The music selections heightened the intensity of the performances. Using fresh arrangements, Pearl’s Dance Academy brought a theatrical element to classic calypso in Culture.
The Barbados Dance Centre demonstrated versatility with entries Rhythmic, Rhapsody, Dance Again, and Mother Nature’s Energy, employing various techniques to express their artistry. Other performers who added to the stellar production were Gentle Steps Art Academy performing Who Do You Judge, Dancin’ Africa with The Journey, Praise Academy of Dance doing Speak Thy Name, Faith Williams with It’s Back, Shaunelle Nerveson with Unrequited Love and Anika Small with ShowStoppa.
In addition to technique, costuming was equally important. S. Neverson Dance Company were striking with their complementary pastel-toned ensembles as they glided across the stage with And So We Dance. Gentle Steps Academy was eye-catching in vibrant yellow blazers and sequined black pants for Ballroom Babeez.
The spirit of inclusivity, which is at the bedrock of the Gem.in.I Project, was clearly encapsulated in their appearance.
They closed the night with Unbroken, which shed light on the challenges posed by COVID-19. Christopher Gilkes was unhindered in his wheelchair as he propelled himself across the stage moving in synchronisation with his troupe. (STT)