Take them to school - Dance Xpressionz hosts show and tell
Dance Xpressionz's musical 'From Den Till Now' gives the dancehall genre an altogether different twist. As the lights dimmed inside the Phoenix Theatre on Haining Road and the performers assembled on stage on Sunday, the audience was left to ponder on the direction of Orville Hall's vision.
At first sight, the uniform-clad dancers sparked the thought, 'just another typical Jamaican play' - but the classroom scene was necessary and served the right purpose. After all, the production, was to educate as well as entertain.
There is a history. The stage version of the Jamaican school setting was supported by other scenes which highlighted the church, market life, street dances, as well as man and woman business - making the whole story of dance all the more fascinating.
"It's a really great effort and I am pleased to see a theatrical piece that has major components of dancehall the only one of its kind. I am also grateful that it is coming directly out of dancehall," Professor Donna Hope, who was in attendance, told THE STAR.
The similarities between dance styles of the past seven years to those in the '90s and early 2000s, like Dip Again versus Get Flat and Yeng Yeng versus S90, were demonstrated within the classroom scene.
Regardless of the subject of the script, the dancers shared information on one or more dance styles and the influence from older techniques, including Kumina and Stukie, Bruckins and Summer Bounce. A few dramatisations also included Quadrille, Maypole and Dinki Mini dance forms.
"It shows that dancehall is more than people behaving badly. It has form, structure and each dance styles has a history; and it also shows the connection dancehall has to other music forms and Jamaican popular culture," Dr Hope said.
One of the performers, Mathaeus Vaughan, said, "The show was structured to educate the audience as much as the students or dancers of Dance Xpressionz. I have been with the group for one year and three months and have learnt as much from then till now."