Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 28th 2015 Contents B3
JUNE 28, 2015 Calypso musical gives
Brooklyn a 'Broadway'
A review by
Two generations of dance came together for a second time
on June 20 at the Little Carib Theatre for Generations II, a
dance recital of five solos and one duet, programmed and
danced by Paul Dennis and Juan-Pablo Alba Dennis.
Dennis is an assistant professor at University of Massa-
chusetts Amherst. He is also the uncle of Alba Dennis, who
is studying at the Ailey School/Fordham University towards
a BFA in dance. The show was a fundraiser for Alba Dennis'
studies. It followed a fundraiser which took place last year.
The show began with the explosive Spanish Dance: an
impression of Flamenco Dance, choreographed in 1948 by
American modern dancer and choreographer Daniel Nagrin
with music by Genevieve Pitot.
Performed by Paul Dennis, this opening number set the
tone with years of mastery shown by Dennis in his poise
and patience with the dance.
Building from a motionless but tension-filled pose, he
then slowly came to life around a series of deliberate, small
accented motions, into a sweeping crescendo of highly-
expressive movements, which included hand clapping, per-
cussive footwork, and passionate feeling.
The younger Alba Dennis brought a more modern and
organic style to the stage with a self-choreographed dance
entitled Bottom of the River. It was performed with music
of the same name---a stripped down, beat-thumping, hand-
clapping, vocal-harmony-centered, neo-Negro spiritual track
by Delta Rae.
As expected, Alba Dennis approached the piece with all
the angst, fear and fury the song demanded. There was a
full-bodied commitment to the piece with lots of floor work,
almost violent punching gestures; a call for desperation,
then a supplication to the heavens overhead.
Dennis' second dance was a work by José Limón with
music by Frédéric Chopin. The group of short dances,
Mazurkas, was created in honour of four cities and the people
of Poland. They were first performed on August 15 1958 and
are a tribute to the people's heroic spirit in their revival after
World War II, according to a programme note from Gener-
The audience was transported through Dennis' commu-
nication of joy and celebration in tribute to the culture of
the Polish people far removed from the Caribbean by distance,
but near in a shared experience of struggling to find happiness
in spite of hardship.
In the second of three solos of Mazurkas, Dennis transi-
tioned to a mournful lament, loss and tragedy. Pain was
etched deeply into each one of his slower movements, and
his commitment was complete, from the severe point of his
toes to the anguish written across the taut lines of his facial
Other highlights included a piece by T&T dancer, chore-
ographer and anthropologist Pearl Primus, The Negro Speaks
of Rivers, also danced by Dennis, which echoed in several
significant ways Alba Dennis' work in Bottom of the River.
Spiralling forward in time from 1944 (when Primus per-
formed it) to 2015 in Alba Dennis' piece, the river remains
as a symbol of refuge, absolution and salvation through con-
cepts of escape, baptism and renewal. Alba Dennis' chore-
ography seemed to take its place as a part of the larger uni-
versal body of dance addressing the theme of struggle and
Both dances were excellent choices for this programme.
The finale, a duet entitled Dois Irmaos (Portuguese for
"Two Brothers") was for both dancers an incredibly demand-
ing piece which explored and exposed male physicality.
From dangerous lifts to an athletic pace with high-intensity
acrobatics, the dancers shared the lead and passed the spot-
light between each other, really bringing the piece to a space
which resonated beyond the original theme.
Across two generations, the dance transcended to an expan-
sive study on the nature of communication and the rela-
tionship between men of different generations or rather the
communication of mankind with itself across the field of
Both Dennis and Alba Dennis have remarkable emotional
expressions in spite of their different dance styles and different
generations of training and dance influences. One only hopes
that decades from now, the dance legacy of T&T and our
local works will be preserved with such care, attention to
detail and performed as reverently and passionately.
Juan Pablo Alba Dennis will host another dance recital,
For the Love of Dance 3, on August 15 at Queen's Hall Audi-
Dancing across Generations
Paul Dennis dancing The
Negro Speaks of Rivers,
choreographed by Pearl
Primus, at the fund raising
show Generations II, at the
Little Carib Theatre,
Woodbrook, June 20.
PHOTO: EDISON BOODOOSINGH.
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