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Giving their all

John Sealy

Giving their all

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It is that time of year when parents and supporters of the arts come out to show appreciation for what the judges deemed good enough to get through to the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) Semi-finals.

The venue was the Combermere School hall where about 20 acts, some appearing at least twice, pulled out the stops to see if they could move to the other level in the annual festival. It was the third semi-final last Sunday.

All the acts showed adequate ability to play an instrument, sing a song or do a dance. The question that should be uppermost though is, are the acts bringing magic to what they are doing? Marks will be given for technique and all that academic stuff, of course, but are the performers looking to create “a wow effect” among the audience and not only that which comes from their posse?

Were I a judge, I would have smiled favourably on Harrison College Steel Orchestra not only for the orchestration of the piece Me, but also the genuine connection each member had with his instrument. They also came over as a team which savoured their moments when it was time to show their individual skill.

The Next Step Dancers paid tribute to local music in a piece titled For The Love Of Bajan Music. There were glimpses of creativity in the choreography but the group relied too much on the familiar and failed to hold attention throughout.

Fazeena Jeva Bassalet, who did Music And Me and Footprints In The Sand, has a promising voice. With the natural butterflies that come with performing on stage, she did not look any more confident walking in heels while trying to keep a mic in her hand. A mic on a stand would have given her one less thing to worry about, though using the stage does not mean having to move.

Dancin’ Africa was quite refreshing. The Children’s Company was a joy to watch as they literally displayed togetherness in UMOJA – The Spirit Of Togetherness, while the senior section caused one to think about issues like self-image and everyday pressures that impact on mental health in Numbers!? and Living To Survive, respectively.

Turned To Stone was an outstanding piece by dancers Justin Poleon and Megan Navarro. Their choreography was simple yet effective, buoyed by the soundtrack coming from Ingrid Michaelson’s Turned To Stone.

Spare a moment for Choices Pan Groove which did two numbers: Blue Bossa and Windforce. The response from the audience was not as for other acts. Here you have steel band comprised of all age groups doing a good thing with delivery and feeling, and the audience was lukewarm after the first song; and then had to be urged by the emcee to show their appreciation.

All-girl singing group Sistaz created that “wow moment” in their first song Caricom Song, displaying clean and clear voices. They spoilt it in the second, A Medley Of Caribbean Songs, when they resorted to a dub Jamaican accent. It did not work. Your voices are good enough as they are!

Whenever small children take to the stage, hearts usually go out to them. It was no different with seven-year-old Tahirah Gibbons, who wanted “to be a hawker” when she grows up in her piece Tribute To Vi. To have the power of recall that Gibbons displayed shows her as special with a good future.

Louise Woodvine Dance Academy continues to capture the hearts of audiences with simple and infectious choreography, not being afraid to embrace familiar musical influences that are readily identifiable, as In Remembrance and Consider Yourself.

Other acts that contributed to the evening’s production were dancers Barefoot Project, True Dunamis Worshippers, Pehnyo Productions and Israel Lovell Foundation Juniors, and singer Lashana Ashmin Lewis.

Sponsors were Digicel, Scotia, Sagicor and Massy.