Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Ballroom back in time

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LAST SATURDAY NIGHT was an occasion of exquisite dance movement by the Barbados Ballroom Travelling Team, delivered with a sense of joie de vivre, and enhanced by frequent comic interplay among the main protagonists.
The stage was the Frank Collymore Hall and the attraction was The Rhythm of The Night – The Time Machine, a century’s journey in time to when swing was in; and the Big Band sound was really “the only sound”; when bootlegging, the Charleston and Lindy Hop, and women in revealing stockings, could all be found in the same place at the same price.
It was, too, depending on one’s status, an ascent or descent into steamy samba nights, where sultry women are chased and cajoled by men, firm in their intent while the sounds of the trombone, trumpet and tambourine give colour to their purpose.
What unravelled before the appreciative audience was as much a history lesson as it was an explosion of brilliant dance, undertaken by a cast that seemed themselves to be transported through the eras they were fixed on bringing alive.
There was a mesmerising display of the tango – part of a street seduction dramatisation ­- where Jamal Dawe and Janine Sealy illuminated the stage as though they were one. Precision, presence, panache and purpose – they personified them all. These two, who obviously seemed to have a special chemistry, were again a delight when they teamed up to demonstrate the Lindy Hop.
From samba to mambo, the dancers took their audience through the streets of Rio de Janeiro and into the nightclubs of Havana with some frenetic energy, capturing that ideal often associated with the mambo of moving as though “feeling the music”.
There is perhaps nothing more tantalising (for everyone except the bull) than the duple time of the paso doble, so much a part of the rhythm of the bullring. And Carl Broomes, Randy Payne and Nicholas Warner-Small donned in matador’s garb, and showing the requisite poise, captured the essence of the Latin rhythm, with the only thing missing when they took their forward heel lead being a resounding “Olé!”.
It was pure fun when the Attempters, perhaps trying to rival some of the Doo-wop groups of 50 or 60 years ago, lit up the hall with their lip-synching of a late Jackie Wilson number, and completed by a superb dance routine.
Amid the excellence of the professionals, Minister of Labour Esther Byer-Suckoo got the opportunity to test out her cha-cha steps under the guidance of Mark Burgess. There might have been some “labour” involved, but she persevered to rapturous applause. Singer Margaret Bovell, too, got her minutes of glory.
The finale was a rousing affair with the stage a pot-pourri of colour and vitality as the majority of the cast returned to engage the audience in one last demonstration of their craft, until taking their final bow.
Whether waltz or foxtrot, rumba or jive, it was fabulous fare.

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