They all came looking for gold but at the end of the night there were some who shone more brightly than others.
Judging was in the categories of music, dance and speech at the Sagicor National Independence of Festival and Creative Arts (NIFCA) juniors finals held Friday night at the Frank Collymore Hall before a sold-out audience.
Apart from a few hiccups for which the competitors should not be penalised, it was an enjoyable night with constant laughter and applause for the finalists.
Of the 21 entrants, Daryll Jordan Secondary School Steel Orchestra and Choices Pan Groove were not judged with the juniors, even though their pieces were well received.
There were six dance pieces and then five for speech, seven for music and one in drama.
Choirs were the order of the night and it was inspiring to see so many young students singing with such control and precision, voices blending in harmony.
First half standouts were Eden Lodge Primary School with A Tribute To Mandela. Dressed in African garb, the piece spoke to the highs and lows of Nelson Mandela’s life and cheekily added in that the school choir has also been through the struggle as this is their first time at the NIFCA finals.
They had two bites of the cherry, also doing a dance piece called Music In Me: Requiem For Change.
Deacons Primary School’s Love Song To Bim was witty and patriotic and Dancin’ Africa Children’s Company’s UMOJA – The Spirit of Togetherness was full of energy with leaps and jumps that left the audience breathless.
Whoever was in charge of the costumes of the African heritage number should take a bow for the authentic look of the dancers.
Ignatius Byer had a hiccup with their track not playing and after standing on stage for a while had to leave and then come back and close the first half.
They got a resounding applause for their resilience in returning to do Siyahamba.
Praise Academy of Dance started the second half with an Afro Caribbean piece very similar to Dancin’ Africa’s.
So said, the young dancers put their all into the piece, Celebration of Praise. A second half crowd-pleaser was seven-year-old Tahirah Gibbons’ Tribute To Vi, her great gran who was a hawker.
The piece was written by dramatist Janine White and Gibbons delivered it with flair and panache. One to watch, she showed no signs of nerves as she extolled why she wanted to be a hawker.
The hook “When I grow up I want to be a hawker” soon started to be echoed by the entire audience every time she said it. Wonderfully done.
Kudos to Blackman & Gollop Primary School for their two well-received pieces. In The Sanctuary certainly looks like a gold award.
With bright eyes and expressions to match they brought the house down with a foot stomping, hand clapping, an uplifitng, spiritual song that was made even more vibrant by the director Cassandra Greenidge-Marshall.
Leading the choir in a call and response she brought church to the hall. The other piece, Our Bajan Alphabet, a bit tamer, was about foods from A to Z and was catchy, with the children doing body movements to emphasise the descriptions.
Mutifarious’ Legends Live On was a dance tribute honouring dance genres and musicians.
From James Brown’s foot movements to Elvis Presley’s knee bend to MC Hammer’s harem pants dance to the king of pop Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, the trio went down memory lane, even though some of the young ones in the audience might have to use Google or Youtube to know what they were trying to portray.
The St Bartholomew Primary School did the only drama piece on the night and the lady behind me couldn’t contain her laughter, even after the three boys had exited the stage and the compere was introducing the next act.
While explaining to his two friends why his head, knee and arm was bandaged up because he tried to stop a mysterious intruder, the young actor revealed at the end The Intruder was not a person involved in a break-in but a centipede.
This well written dialogue, was a comedic skit and the audience laughed throughout the delivery of the punch lines.
Even if it doesn’t receive a gold medal, let’s hope it gets to be seen again at the NIFCA Gala.
I don’t think NIFCA knew they were saving the best for last but that’s how the second half ended.
With Pinelands Creative Workshop Dance de Bongo, drummers and chanters were behind a black partition, providing the music for the bamboo wielding dancers who were jumping in, out, over, and going under the bamboo sticks held by two others.
Four of the dancers then were lifted on top of the sticks to dance on them. Holding my breath and keeping my fingers crossed, I was relieved to see them avoid any mishaps.
It was a beautiful piece to watch – loud and energetic, the agile dancers, dressed in red and white, should dance away with one of the big incentive prizes.
NIFCA continues tonight, with the seniors in the Performing Dance Finals. On Monday is the performing Music Finals and Tuesday is the Performing Arts Theatre.