Celebrating UDP’s legacy
United Dance Productions (UDP) has been shaping the art of dance in Bermuda for the better part of three decades now. With practitioners that range in age from four to 40-something, UDP has literally raised several generations of dancers in Bermuda.
Many of those very generations of dancers came together to celebrate the UDP legacy during the company’s annual recital; a consistent reminder of the magnificent work being done at their Court Street studios. The 2013 showcase was entitled ‘Heritage Journey,’ and drew a large crowd of well-wishers and dance fans to the Ruth Seaton James Auditorium last Friday evening.
The show opened with the hypnotic ‘Slave Girls.’ The piece paid tribute to the strength and endurance of the black woman during slavery. Choreographed by Kevin Malone, and brought to life by UDP veterans Shanyea Trott, Lauren Francis, Zalika Millett, and Carling Ray, ‘Slave Girls’ was a study in fluidity and symmetry, and a fabulous start to a simply awesome evening of dance.
The company’s more recent purveyors featured next, starting with ‘Trying Times,’ which featured a group of eight teenagers performing a modern dance piece choreographed by Kelly Hunter. Then the pre-teens delivered a delightful rendition of Tokia M. Tota’s ‘Your Children,’ which was followed by the kindergarteners representing in the simply adorable ‘Pep Talk.’ The tots’ choreography was arranged by Carling Ray and Shahnel Woodley, and their ‘Pep Talk’ drew one of the most enthusiastic and spontaneous responses of the night from the capacity crowd; way too cute for words!
The first half of the show closed with the powerful ‘Motherless Child.’ Choreographed by Eric Bean junior, ‘Motherless Child’ featured the show’s only male dancers, Tokia Tota, Dezjuan Thomas, and Keith Trott in a dynamic performance. By the time the female dancers joined during the second half of the piece, this was already one of the standout dances of the evening.
‘Herstory’ opened the second half of the show. Choreographed by Eric Bean junior and competently delivered by an ensemble of UDP stalwarts, ‘Herstory’ was poetic and empowering all at once. What followed, however, was perhaps the most polished piece of the show.
‘A Tribute to Ailey’ featured choreography by Suzette Harvey (‘Sinner Man’) and Kelly Hunter (‘Wade in the Water’) and employed the full expertise of the legendary dance company’s most refined dancers. The gentleman dancers injected copious doses of energy and angst into ‘Sinner Man,’ while the ladies made ‘Wade in the Water’ feel more spiritual than ever. The combination of these two pieces was nothing short of mesmerising, and certainly deserved every bit of the huge ovation that poured from the appreciative audience once the artists took their collective bow.
The penultimate piece was a Hip-Hop influenced modern piece choreographed by Sarah Goodhue and called ‘Drummer Kick.’ This piece was nice, modern, trendy, and stylish; a solid offering. The finale, however, was special.
‘Four Women’ completed the wonderful trilogy of Eric Bean junior creations featured in the show, and served as a spectacular finale to boot! Seasoned UDP ladies Sierra-Renae Robinson, Shahnel Woodley, Shanna Henry, and Carling Ray delivered a fierce performance, blending power, sensuality, attitude, and style into their dance, and ensuring that the last piece of the night would linger in the minds of patrons for days to come; an excellent close to another masterful United Dance Productions recital. Bravo!