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Dance, through the years, has been the most popular segment of the Festival of the Performing Arts. This is evident in the fact that so many outstanding dances are produced each year at Festival time. This year was no different and according to Lenneth Richards, is the National Coordinator for Dance at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), for the most part this year's competition was keen and the standard very high. The high quality of the performances that were on show for the 2000 Festival was due largely to the works of regular gold medal winners over the years, Lannaman's Preparatory and Tivoli High School from Kingston and St.Andrew, and St. Jago High School From St. Catherine. Good performances also came from Exed Community College from Kingston, and Columbus Preparatory from St. Ann. Ms Richards was particularly pleased with St. Margaret's Bay All-Age from Portland who won the Award for Best Dance Drama with their piece " Who Will Be The Queen?" Her pleasure stems from the fact that the dance-drama category is not popular. Actually it has received very little support over the years. In fact only two schools entered this category this past season.

Ms Richards thinks that " most schools deliberately shy away from dance drama because they view it as difficult". She believes that it can hardly be considered more difficult than any other genre of dance, but might greater effort in conceptualizing the process, as a dance drama is a dance that tells a story. She invites more schools to enter this category and points out that " this dance must have strong story lines and may be taken from biblical stories , proverbs, nursery rhymes, legends of Jamaican historical events". Ms Richards reports that workshops are the basis for good dances and encourages participants to attend. In addition she boasts that much of unfriendly rivalry of the past that used to take place between schools has decreased. Now many schools are working together, even outside of their respective parishes. All this for a better product at festival in particular, and the development of dance in the country in general. This year the JCDC trophy for the Most Outstanding Junior Group went to Lannamans Preparatory. The Optimist Club of Kingston trophy for the Most Outstanding Intermediates, went to Tivoli Gardens High School. The Rex Nettleford Trophy for the Most Outstanding Studio Group went to Tivoli Dance Troupe. The Arlene Richards Plaque for the Most Outstanding Choreographed Piece (Modern) went to St. Jago High for " Amen Amen", while the Barbara Requa Plaque for the Most Outstanding Choreographed Piece (Creative Folk) went to Lannaman's Preparatory for "Fun and Frill". The Most Outstanding School in the competition was Lannaman's Preparatory and they received the Ivy Baxter Award For Excellence. Despite these success stories Ms Richards is very concerned about the lack of inadequate sponsorship and the fact that very few scholarships are given to outstanding dancers. She is quick to point out that sponsorship does not have to include large donations of cash. In fact, she says anything that can aid the dancers would be welcomed, for example cloth for making costumes or video /audio cassettes and television sets which could be used in the training process. She however, would like to thank Berger Paints for their support of dance throughout the years. The creativity and versatility of Jamaicans was evident in this year's competition. Ms Richards expects much of the same next year and encourages new schools to participate, and reminds teachers that the Performing Arts can enhance the teaching process. See you at Festival 2001! Please E-mail: library@jcdc.org.com Public Relations Department Jamaica Cultural Development Commission 3-5 Phoenix Ave Kingston 10 October 2000.