Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Monday | July 6, 2009
Home : Entertainment
Dances on the edge for charity and more
Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer


To some people, the physical shape of the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, located on the Mona campus at the University of the West Indies (UWI), is similar to that of an oven. If their analogy is true, then Stephanie Belnavis' fund-raiser on Saturday titled Not for Ego, Beyond Self, Not of This World is the sort of creative work that is expected to emerge from the 'oven'.

Not for Ego, Beyond Self, Not of This World contained dances on the cutting edge and provide an insight into Belnavis' desire to use dance as therapy.

The entertaining programme contained works from six choreographers. The dances were innovative and edgy. Some focused on struggles with ego, others went beyond self and some were not of this world (not seen on local stage before). This was achieved through excellent use of space, lights and video.

Dance drama

Dance video (not to be confused with music video) may best be described as a dance drama and it is naturalistic in style. The Neilia Ebanks (Eve) and Sara Lonfcroft, (Have I Been Here Before), dance videos were very engaging. Each with a solo dancer, the choreographers used pace (fast and slow), and daily routines such as walking on a street and the opening of a door. In both dance videos, the dance seemed to begin with the dancers/characters placing an earphone in her ears.

In Eve, Ebanks, also as the dancer/character called Sister Mitzie Margaret, explores the navigation of a flight of steps, attempts to jump wall and jumps pedestrian crossing to music. In a very innovative move, the character was transported from the screen to the stage and back to the screen, an action that was well received by the audience.

Road vibes, the show opener and choreographed by Lisa Wilson, captured the trauma of driving on the Jamaican roads. The movement and actions of the dancers were very clear and entertaining; from the overworked road traffic police officer, to the slow driving old lady.

'Lights for dance'

While most of the dances used the technique 'lights for dance' effectively, Stefanie Thomas' Analogue was one of the most outstanding.

The dance comprises of two dancers of similar physique and mannerism discovering their differences and eventually accepting each other's differences. But while conflicts maketh the drama and the two dancers gave excellent performances, it was the anonymity of the characters, created through the use lights that was the most intriguing. Strategic lighting forced the audience to focus on the message being communicated through movements.

Artistic director of the show, Belnavis choreography, was imaginative. She too explored 'lights for dance' in Hale Out, Conversation in Passing and Penumbra.


Additionally, in her dances, Belnavis utilised sounds of various degrees. However, for Dear Sylvie, the final dance on the programme, with its bi line reading, "I write to you in praise of the beauty of black women", is an example of how dance may be used as therapy.

In the dance, a young girl faces racial challenges represented by falling shreds of white strings/ paper. But she calmly removes them and continues her task. The dancers all moved in a timely and controlled manner, further aided by free flowing, predominantly white dresses.

Talented Jamaicans

All the other pieces were creative in forms and execution. Caged, choreographed and performed by Kerry-Ann Henry, Wednesday, choreographed by Keita-Marie Satherswaite and Denise Gibbs' Give Birth to Me. The dancers comprised talented Jamaicans from different dance companies: Praise Academy, National Dance Theatre Company, The Company and UWI Dance Society.

Proceeds from 'Not for Ego, Beyond Self, Not of This World' will go to the Salvation Army children's home called 'The Nest', as well as towards the Stephanie Belnavis' education fund. This young and talented Jamaican also plans to pursue a master's degree before launching out on her ultimate career goal. It is hoped that she will achieve her dreams.

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