The Wolmer’s Dance Troupe is less than one year away from celebrating 30 years of delivering productions that contrast with Jamaica’s rhythmic culture and character. It’s that time of the year when dancers, as young as four years old, get to exhibit their talent. Its 29th season of dance will be no different in that regard, but according to artistic director and founder Barbara McDaniel, there is always a bolt from the blue.
“The people who usually attend our season of dance always enjoy watching the children perform, entertaining with pieces that eloquently touch the senses. Not all dance pieces choreographed might draw a person, but there is almost always something for everybody to take pleasure in,” McDaniel told The Gleaner.
Of this year’s theme, ‘Sense of Peace’, she added, “While in rehearsal, I was trying to think of a concept that harmonised with the production, and most pieces are centred on finding that. It is my expectation that our audience will leave feeling a sense of peace, love, unity, gratitude, and pride.”
Elaborating, the artistic director noted that pride is one emotion that she could not deny herself, having a dance troupe that has played a role in the development of some of Jamaica’s burgeoning and successful dancers, like Shelley-Ann Maxwell and Tara Price, who are part of the internationally acclaimed musical Lion King.
McDaniel can count more than 400 children passing through her hands throughout her 36 years at Wolmer’s Preparatory School, 30 of which have been dedicated to the Wolmer’s Dance Troupe. Passing on the troupe’s legacy is crucial to more than just the world of dance. Its work has been a key part of not only the dance world’s seismic shift from simple movements to explosive expression observed on the local and global stages, but also the discipline displayed by members who have matured with the troupe.
“We have managed to coach several dancers-turned-choreographers who demonstrate the commitment, interest, and aptitude to carry on the legacy, but the truth is, as you start coaching them, better opportunities comes, and they have to go,” she said.
For her, that evolution of dance and dancers must touch on all facets of life. She admits that she has stepped back to direct rather than choreograph in order to give the young talents a chance. “We are an institution that gives birth to dancers and choreographers. This year, we are making dancers of our fathers,” she shared.
Eight fathers are expected to share the stage with their daughters this weekend, from the curtain call at the Little Theatre tonight 7 p.m., then on Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m.