Theatrical arts group Dance Xpressionz are feeling overwhelmed with the international launch of their dancehall musical, From Den until now.
The production, written and directed by company director Orville Hall, premiered in Berlin, Germany, May 25-29, as part of the CDC Festival.
“Overwhelming, to me, is still an understatement, because people who thought they knew a few things about Jamaica, even when it came to dancehall, got a chance to see traditional Jamaica,” Hall said. the gleaner. “They got to see Jamaica right after independence, in terms of dress code and manners, music and dancing. It was overwhelming for us, just to see how people were making noise in the auditorium and how people behaved.
Sunday’s performance featured a special show segment with Crazy Hype dancer-turned-artist and Xpressionz Sashi/Dogbed member Darrio performing his Jamaica Festival Song Contest number. I love Jamaica my land.
From Den until now premiered in Jamaica in December 2018 as a novelty in popular culture and local theatre, chronicling the history of Jamaican music, folklore and dance forms woven with original poems and dialogue. Hall said they were set to play it in Germany in 2020 before the pandemic disruption.
DELAYED BY THE PANDEMIC
“We had already got the visas and all the paperwork was done, but when the pandemic hit, everything was shut down. The promoters have stayed in touch with us and told us that the people who have come on board as sponsors really believe in it, and if there is an easing of the pandemic, they would still consider doing it.
That opportunity presented itself earlier this year, and Dance Xpressionz landed in Germany on May 11 to also give individual lessons. The production featured Hall and other core members Shelly, Shanice and Sashi/Dogbed, but also included Kimiko Versatile as well as Ghanaian dancers E-Flex and Yoofi Greene and Spanish dancer Carolyn Gonzalez. Among the changes was an Afro-diasporic adaptation of the musical, delving into traditional African dance forms, namely the azonto, which was popular in Ghana in the 90s.
The international premiere and returns are gratifying in other ways, as the production did not receive intense support in Jamaica.
“Shelly Xpressionz has a famous saying that nothing happens before its time, and the fact that we’re doing it now is the perfect time,” he said. “When we were in Jamaica it was a direct production. I don’t know what the problem was that the sponsors didn’t jump on that production. I really expected sponsors to come to us because of the type of production. It’s something that speaks to Jamaica holistically, but to see that we should go out of our country to entertain people with this production is a blessing for us, and it’s even more heartwarming for us because Jamaica is celebrating 60 years of Independence and we are playing the first ever dancehall musical in Germany to help celebrate this Diamond Jubilee.
Hall hopes to replicate the show in Jamaica with additional dancers with the help of sponsors.
“We very much hope that the Jamaican government and some of our local sponsors will join us in helping us move forward. We salute the Ministry of Culture who also approved our trip from 2020, but we are moving forward and want to re-stage it in Jamaica for people to see.