JM | Mar 1, 2023

Jamaica Dance Umbrella returns tomorrow after two-year hiatus

Shemar-Leslie Louisy

Shemar-Leslie Louisy / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes
The ASHE Company, Jamaican performing arts group. (Photo: Contributed)

After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Jamaica Dance Umbrella (JDU) is set to return for its 13th edition, at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus from Thursday (March 2) to Sunday (March 5).

With the return of the production, patrons can expect a three-day, well-mobilized experience where they can sample Jamaican and regional dance, attend workshops with some of the region’s leading choreographers.

This year’s staging promises performances from local companies such as the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), L’Acadco: A United Caribbean Dance Force, Movements Dance Company, The ASHE Company, and CDT, among several others and regional companies such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the USA, the University College of the Cayman Islands, UWI Cave Hill, and the Eleve Performing Arts Center.

Michael Holgate (Left), festival director at the JDU; Monika Lawrence (centre), previous honouree; and Renee McDonald (right), associate artistic director of CDT (Photo: Contributed)

Michael Holgate, festival director at the JDU, shared with Our Today his thoughts on the first post lockdown JDU showcasing.

He said: “It is not just that dance is back, but that dance is back with a bang. I wanted to create an exciting festival that could pull together the diverse energies of dancers and performers, and all of those wonderful people doing creative magic in Jamaica and the region in the world of dance. This is a triumphant return to dance, showcasing both new and cherished signature pieces from the companies.”

L’Acadco at the JDU in 2019. (Photo: Contributed)

Kai Wiggan, choreographer and former JDU dancer pointed out that training for this year’s JDU incorporated lessons learned during Covid.

She said, “We incorporated more mixed media into our training this time around compared to previous years. Being able to pivot like that as needed is something we learned as a direct result of the pandemic.”

“I think taking part in this event is very beneficial for young dancers coming up; it’s a good springboard for your career especially if you’re just coming out of college like Edna [Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts],” she continued.

Professor Christopher Walker, professor of dance at the University of Wisconsin. (Photo: Contributed)

This year’s honoree is Professor Chris Walker, a Jamaican-born, Edna Manley alumni, and Professor of dance at the University of Wisconsin who has taught dance throughout the region. Walker will be honored for his indelible contributions to regional dance, arts and culture, as well as his internationally acclaimed works and research.

Tickets for the main shows, March 3-5, are $3,000. Individuals interested in attending can purchase tickets at the Philip Sherlock Centre, UWI, Mona.


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