La Danse Caraibe, ‘Crocodile Tears’
La Danse Caraibe, one of Trinidad and Tobago’s well-known dance schools at #32 Luis Street, Woodbrook, Port of Spain, presented their bi-annual dance production titled “Crocodile Tears” on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th November, 2014, at Queen’s Hall, St. Ann’s, Port of Spain.
The programme emphasized that the world has become a place where people are not paying attention to serious problems, and as a result La Danse Caraibe has chosen to highlight a few of these issues, through the medium of dance. Such issues included issues of abused children, the [neglected] elderly, pollution, murders, pollution, suicide, violence and fraudulent governments. The show featured a diverse selection of styles and genres that spanned the range of modern, folk, hip hop, and tap genres and were thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
The production featured the following choreographers and their works:
Heather Henderson-Gordon – “The Earth Cries”, “Viruses”, “Are you caring or just don’t give a ….damn?” and “Death Rage”; Gregor Breedy – “Macabre Ritual in Morne Diablo”; Makeba Gabriel – “Crab and Callaloo”; Arlene Frank – “Jesters in the Court”, “Punitive Measures” and “Political Assassins”; Marielle Dos Santos – “Cry Wolf”; Takyah Springer – “Forever Young”; and Candice Ellis – “Weeping Rhythmic Estatic Revolution”.
Founder of La Danse Caraibe, Heather Henderson-Gordon was on hand to share her thoughts around the production:
“The name of this show is Crocodile Tears. We have a bi-annual show and its mainly to get the kids into performing and understanding the stage and rules and the discipline. It is part of the school’s all-inclusive plan. This year Crocodile Tears is about those things called “cry wolf”, when a child does things to attract you but it is not really real and then when something really happens, the parents are not taking him on. It also symbolizes those things in life we see but don’t really take heed of, or think that you cannot do anything because you are only one [person].”
The show opened with Arlene Frank’s dance piece titled “Jesters in the Court” followed by “Punitive Measures” and “Political Assassins”. About her last piece Frank explained:
“Political Assassins shows how we have a lot of corruption going on in our government. So they are the political assassins who are taking people’s money unbeknownst. They are not having any regard for the straight line which you are supposed to follow, which would lead them to a better life at the end of it all. Dance is about telling a story, and it is close to drama except that there are no words, so the audience hopefully should be able to grasp based on whatever is on the programme and connect it to the dance that they are seeing.”
The second dance performance presented was Heather Henderson-Gordon’s piece titled “The Earth Cries”. Reflecting how humans are killing this earth. This piece was a flurry of movement as many children depicting flowers danced on stage, visited by the glorious Scarlet Ibis bird, only to be destroyed by wanton pollution in the form of plastic deposited in their environment.
One of the most exciting aspects of the show was the limbo dance titled “Crab and Callaloo”. To the pulsating rhythms of accompanying drummers, dancers limboed gracefully under the flaming bars. The climax of the dance was when five flaming bars were lowered very close to the ground and the choreographer for this piece, Makeba Gabriel, limboed underneath without touching the bar or being burnt to thunderous appreciation from the audience.
Ms. Gabriel shared her thoughts with Triniview.com:
“I have been working with Heather almost six years now. We have limbo every Wednesday for an hour. Our segment is very spicy. Limbo has a tradition of the fire, so we incorporate that. I am just here to share my experience with them as well. I am dealing with the age group of five to sixteen years. It has its moments, but it is really fun.”
Another outstanding performance was Gregor Breedy’s piece titled “Macabre Ritual in Morne Diablo”. Described as a contemporized folk tale about the game of mischief, with the children representing Douens, the females represented the La Jablesse and the male dancer as a human.
According to Breedy:
“It is a contemporary folk piece about the La Jablesse and the Douens and how they approach humans when they come into their space. They lose them into the forest first and they pretend to like the persons, so it is always fake. What I am doing is taking our folktales and putting them into a more contemporary position where it can be used universally.”
Marielle Dos Santos performed her own choreography “Cry Wolf”. She also performed in Heather Henderson-Gordon’s piece “Death Rage” and Arlene Frank’s “Political Assassins”. In a brief interview she shared part of her story with Triniview.com:
“I started dancing at two and a half years old under Heather Henderson-Gordon and I have never left. There is a lot of work going into tonight’s show, making sure everybody is on point, the lights on point, [and] the sound is on point. You have to keep practising to make sure everyone is there. It is hard. My piece is dealing with a relationship where my boyfriend’s eyes are too long. Then he keeps coming back and she realises in the end that it is a constant cycle, and then gets over it and leaves him.”
The night’s other choreographer’s also presented fascinating routines with Candice Ellis’s moving tap dance piece titled “Weeping Rhythmic Ecstatic Revolution” which reflected the movement towards freedom and Takiyha Springer’s hip hop piece, “Forever Young” which depicted a class of old and young genres resulting in a new form, which was a synthesis of the young and the old.
Overall, the dance pieces were very engaging, and the enthusiasm and practice that went into them were evident. This well-organised production was a fitting expression of dance to mark La Danse Caraibe’s twenty-eighth year as a dance company.