The New York cultural community is set to pay homage to the late Rex Nettleford, cultural icon, Founder of the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) and vice-chancellor emeritus of the University of the West Indies on Sunday, April 18, 2010 at St. Francis College – Founders Hall, starting at 5:30 pm.
In a special tribute titled, “Celebrating the Life. Preserving the Legacy. A Cultural Tribute to Ralston Milton “Rex” Nettleford”, Caribbean Cultural Theatre will bring together members of the artistic fraternity to reflect on the work on this stalwart and celebrate his achievements. The evening will begin with remembrances from friends, colleges and former students and culminate in a traditional Afro-Caribbean wake celebration.
Among the performers expected to participate are Ancient Vibrations headed by former NDTC drummer Gabu Wedderburn; Braata Folk Singers, a Jamaican folk group; Caribbean American Dance Company, based in Hartford, CT, Directed by NDTC alum Adrian Fletcher; Charles Moore Dance Theater, a US modern dance company; Giggles Productions, a Bronx based performing arts company; Something Positive, a Trinidadian folk dance company; Andrene Bonner, author, Olympic Gardens; folklorist Janice ‘Miss Mattie Lou’ Hart; and Guyanese musicians Avis Josephs and Wricford Dalgetty.
According to Artistic Director E. Wayne McDonald, “The Caribbean community has lost a creative genius and cultural stalwart to whom we are truly indebted. The early Sunday afternoon start will afford more families and second generation Caribbean-Americans to learn more about this icon and an opportunity to participate.”
Nettleford, who passed away on February 2 in Washington, DC made an indelible mark not only on the Jamaican and regional cultural landscape but globally with the formation of the NDTC in September 1962, one month after the island gained independence from Britain. A son of the rural parish of Trelawny, he epitomized excellence and has left a deep void as an academic, cultural activist and historian.
Caribbean Cultural Theatre has organized other similar observances in honor of folklorist and poet, Louise Bennett-Coverly in 2006 and in September 2009, to commemorate Jamaican-born playwright and co-screen writer of the film ‘The Harder They Come’ Trevor Rhone.
This special tribute is being held in collaboration with a number of partners including American Foundation of the University of the West Indies, Brooklyn Caribbean Youth Fest, Guyana Cultural Association, Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music, Past Members & Friends of the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica, St. Francis College – Office of Special Events and TSO Production.