The magic of dance and drama illuminated the stage at Queen's Hall in St Ann's last weekend, as the Noble Douglas Dance Company Inc (NDDCI) presented their latest production, "Transition". Prior to the theatrical staging, the organisers also officially launched the Noble Douglas Lilliput Foundation for The Arts (NDLFA) in the lobby of the famed arena.
This non-profit umbrella organisation is mandated to steer the creative work of both the Lilliput Children's Theatre and the NDDCI and to ensure the long-term viability of these companies, while supporting and enhancing the legacy of Noble Douglas. Patrons include: former first lady, Zalayhar Hassanali, women's rights activist, Diana Mahabir-Wyatt, thespian, Tony Hall and Lilliput parent, Sian Aboud. Remarking on the deplorable state of crime in T&T, Aboud highlighted the work of the NDDCI and the Lilliput Theatre in providing an alternative to this disease.
"How many times have you heard that the number of gang members is on the increase," she asked, "because young people lack direction, self respect, self esteem and they don't have good leadership; they don't have heroes and no one is guiding them? Well, this is exactly what Lilliput offers and more: it is the one place where young people can come and be themselves. They can test their talents in acting, writing, costume design and dancing, they can expand their minds in a fair and balanced environment, where there's no such thing as embarrassment or peer pressure. This is not a place to play or to free-up without any guidance — on the contrary, the very strong guidance which the Lilliput staff offer releases their freedom responsibly. Lilliput is not training people to become actors, but through drama they are training them to become responsible, mature, understanding members of our country — ready to take on the world..."
Founded in 1975 by Douglas and Tony Hall, Lilliput Children's Theatre is dedicated to using the performing arts as a medium to encourage self confidence through the challenge of theatre, game play and imagination. Trained at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Centre, Noble Douglas has shone as a beacon of the arts in T&T for over half a century and received the prestigious Hummingbird Medal Gold in 2005, among other accolades.
Graciously giving kudos to all who have assisted her in these organisations, Douglas also shied away from the spotlight for most of the evening — choosing to let the work of her students and extended family speak on her behalf instead.
"The Transition concept alludes to the inevitable tide of change," she said, "the flux... the shift... the evolution that the company invariably faces from season to season as dancers come and go with the ebb and flow of life. I am grateful to all those who are still here with me and function in some capacity, be it assisting, choreographing, rehearsing, teaching or dancing. Allan Balfour has been here with us for almost thirty years; Dave Williams too has stood the test of time. There was a point where he wanted to stop dancing but I would not allow it. Charlene Rollock is a former Lilliputian, who is now engrained in the foundation of NDDCI. Of course, we can't forget the stalwarts: Simone Camps, Charlene Harris and Denise Dickson-Cunningham. I thank the members of the Foundation who have met for almost a year to sort out the by-laws and shape the vision for us to move forward. With this we usher in a new era for Lilliput and NDDCI. We now feel that we are ready to get down to the fundraising and exciting work. We hope that you will come along for the ride."
The NDLFA Board of Directors includes: Founder/artistic director, Noble Douglas, chairperson, Denise Demming, honorary treasurer, Lenore Harris, Secretary, Denise Dickson-Cunningham, Lilliput Children's Theatre's Drama Director, Wendell Manwarren and director of design, Merylle Mahabir, as well as Liza Miller, Zakiya Smart and Margaret Walcott.
"Transition" ran at Queen's Hall last Saturday and Sunday evenings and featured nine acts with choreography by Douglas, Sunil, Arlene Frank, Sherid Mason, Malvani Seelal Alexander, Allan Balfour, Dave Williams and Jeffrey Carter.