St. John’s Antigua- The UWI Open Campus was, last weekend, transformed to a world of dancing trees, pulsating rhythms, and fluttering fairies.
It was a production of the Shiva School of Dance themed, “The Earth Comes to Life.” And so it did, as the story was told, through dance, of a personified Mother Nature who retaliates against her abusers.
Junior dancers set the tone in the opening number entitled “The Trees Dance.” Against the backdrop of painted blue skies and white clouds the children, decked out in foliage, depicted happy trees bending and swaying in the breeze. After an appearance by Mother Nature, little fairies take to the stage for a delightful number.
The joy and mirth soon turns to doom and gloom after litterbugs wreak havoc on the environment. They hurt Mother Nature’s children, thus bringing on her wrath.
As the story unfolds, the audience is treated to a variety of dance genres, including Gospel, Latin, Dancehall, Soca and African numbers.
Tiny Tots Javalla Hughes, Serenity Hunte, Kenna James, Tiesha Mussington, Amiah Quinland, Trinity Emmanuel, Senez Gordon, Zaina Hughes, Teyanna Nathaniel, and Vanesta George shined in “Wakka Wakka” and “Fairies Play,” among other numbers. They were ages three and up.
The Juniors – the teens and tweens – were equally as stellar in such numbers as “The Latin Dance,” and soca number “Faluma,” to name a couple.
The crew comprised Danijah Simon, Vega Armstrong, Aliek Knowles, Alexa Lake, Shakema William, Lisa Mcleod, Destiny Emmanuel, Joelle Emmanuel, Denique Jordan, Atalia James, Shanakisha Francis, Conneka Thomas, Tequon Hunte and Trent Luke.
A little comedy was in the mix, as guest dancers performed a dancehall number laced with humorous dialogue, lip-synced of course.
Shiva Director Tavia Hunte joined the production during a soulful duet with Owen Jackson entitled Paradise, followed by appearances with the company dancers.
The adult cast, featuring seniors as old as 70, was just as energetic as they joined the company dancers in a high-energy soca number entitled “Big Truck” named after the Machel Montano tune to which they danced.
Those “Dancing Divas” of the show included Angi Degannes, Charmaine George, Mi love Fontaine, Sherisa Soanes, Akila Peetes, Laurena Davis, Salone Joseph, Geneva Greenaway, Samista Ellis, Jocelyn Allaway, Rachel Collis, Tonya White, Jo an Lucas, Natasha Fenton, Paulette Harrigan, Mellisa Cair and Peleet James.
The production marked the debut of the new Shiva Dance Company – Danielle Bridgewater, Tiffany Henriques, Candacey Samuel, Ariel Callius, Elizabeth gilbert, Kemberly Greenaway, Kamoya Williamson, Shanakisha Francis and Errol Phillip. It is also the first production since Hunte completed her bachelors degree in dance and performing education at the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts.
The Shiva School of Dance director said she was pleasantly surprised at the turnout to “The Earth Comes to Life.”
“I knew that I would have had the support of the dancers’ family and friends but the general public came out and I was pleasantly surprised because I know I was out of the country for a while,” Hunte said.
She said on the first night of the show, Friday, there was standing room only. And the situation was not much different on the Saturday and Sunday nights.
“I had to be pulling chairs from the dressing room,” she said.
“I was proud of my entire cast because it’s not all the time you find older and younger people fusing and bonding to produce work on such levels.”
Hunte said the feedback has been very positive, with environmentally conscious artistes contacting her to express their approval.
The dance director is entertaining the thought of an encore but perhaps some time before the close of summer, she says. Meantime, preparations have begun with a view to a December production. (By Cherisse Constant)