LONDON 2012 – DIFFERENT CEREMONY DIFFERENT GAMES

LONDON OLYMPIC STADIUM ON OPENING NIGHT

At the closing ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics we were given a glimpse of the host city’s preview of what we can expect when London played hosts. I can vividly remember a double-decker bus and some dancers with umbrellas and that’s about it . Was not inspiring and I took a deep breath and counted to 10. Sadly if this is what we are to expect then please take the games back to Beijing.

But to ask that of Beijing to host the world again would be asking too much, even for economic behemoth China. Beijing from all standards of Olympic hosting and presentation was in one word FLAWLESS. Of course there were problems, smog, food are only but 2 of them. But if there were the world did not notice as the opening ceremonies set a momentum that lasted the entire 2 weeks. And this is the importance  of the opening ceremony. It is to showcase the host country’s culture and customs not exclusively  but certainly importantly. Every country has done their presentation and viewers were happy to see the various traditions of Atlanta, Barcelona, Greece, Australia and Beijing and they set the tone of the games. London’s stage was set from the opening sound of the BIG BELL and from there it was dark and ominous, mournful, pastoral, dirty, sloppy movements, comical, cutesy and lacked a WOW. The question is will the games follow suit?

Many countries have high stakes in these games, some more valuable than others. USA, China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Jamaica to name a few  all have stakes in how their teams perform. But from the opening ceremonies my prediction is these London games will be not as exciting for a number of countries in terms of performance , GB included, as they want it to be. Beijing offered excitement, so too was Australia and even Greece. London offers dreariness. Conclusion, expect anything from London, anything.It will not be glitzy for  some countries.

London has always been a country that puts on a spectacular Royal imagery and the world was expecting a bit more glitz and glamour from a country known for its glitz and glamour. We were taken on a history lesson of GB and the lesson was taken with a pinch of salt. As viewers we accepted it as we should and we gave a polite applause. Some of the Brits were happy others were not. One thing is certain the London 2012 games will be different, different and game changing. Let us hope the rain does not flood the gates to gold for a number of athletes and countries.

london-olympics-opening-ceremony-video

LET THE GAMES BEGIN.

 

1460 days ago the 30th Olympiad was awarded to London , the city that represents European power. The city that once ruled the world, The sun never sets on the British Empire. Its ironic that one of her former colony is celebrating 50 years of independence from her. Jamaica going back to the place that had her captive for many years on the biggest stage bears a sense of revenge. If London 2012 is anywhere near Beijing then we can say we have finally given our response to years of oppression.

London represents many things to many people but hosting the Olympics is more symbolic especially for the Caribbean islands that have said good bye to her. It is important that when we celebrate we must also remember that we must celebrate not only Jamaica but for the Caribbean. Today, Jamaica like like the rest of the Caribbean will show London and the World who we are. We , like the rest of the Caribbean, will show London that their little daughter has grown up and can compete on any stage without their help or direction. Today Jamaica will look into their hearts and find the Olympic flame, that flame that represents the hopes of a nation, that represents a nation at 50 striving to show the World and London that it has not been easy but we are proud, strong, and we are determined to be who we can be and that is being Jamaican and by extension a powerful Caribbean nation.

And so let the games begin. For the next 2 weeks the world will focus on London, focus on competition, focus on unity, focus on the ideal that we are all but one people, under God, whoever it is we pray to. Let the games begin the outpouring of inspiration, motivation, hope, triumph and yes even failure. Failure is not doing your best. Rather it shows who you are and all that you stand for – and that is excellence. London has called the World to its city but this time not as an aggressor but as host to the biggest table of human emotions , the games of the XXX Olympiad.

 

2 DAYS TO GO AND 9 OUT OF OLYMPICS

With only 2 days to go 9 athletes have tested positive for doping violations and have been sent home. 9 athletes gone and the games have not started officially as yet. Events the size of the games  will always have problems associated with it and London 2012 is not special as it has a few problems to deal with on a day to day basis- the olympic lane and the taxi cabs, the right to protest from protestors who are silenced by the police , the weather and we know how the Brits can be sarcastic with all the fuss in their city for the next 2 weeks. Yes there are and will be daily problems to deal with. But the much ballyhooed WADA did not expect to deal with its problems so early.

The 2012 Olympics has been touted to have the best anti doping testing ever in the history of the games. I witnessed a recent documentary of the anti- doping state of the art facilities for London and even I was impressed. It gave me the shivers just looking at the procedures. So why would an athlete even consider taking drugs and think that they would not be caught?   Why take the risk? There are a lot of answers and frankly we will never know the real reason. There will be the usual “I  did not know” or “I did not willingly take any drugs”  excuses but the fact is you were caught.

The problem is not all athletes will undergo this testing. Athletes in what is called the high risk sports will definitely undergo the testing. That means OUR ATHLETES, all of them will be going through not one but probably a test a day in London. We can hardly forget Usain Bolt’s statement that he and his fellow team mates underwent so many testing in Beijing they could not find their main artery after all the blood test done.  This is what makes the system a double standard.

If WADA is to be fair   and by extension the London Olympic committee and the IOC then surely to combat this drug problem plaguing the sport every athlete professional and amateur  should be required to have a biological passport that will be used for tests and guarantees against drugs .An athlete biological passport is an individual, electronic record for professional athletes, in which profiles of biological markers of doping and results of doping tests are collated over a period of time. Doping violations can be detected by noting variances from an athlete’s established levels outside permissible limits, rather than testing for and identifying illegal substances. Similar to a persons travel passport this bio passport will be used as one of the major determinant of the athletes history.And everyone should be checked and cleared BEFORE , DURING the AFTER the games.

Will it be more intensive, yes. Will it require more resources , probably. But the end justifies the means and save from all the scandal and embarrasment it would level the playing field and prevent someone from thinking they can beat the system.

The games of London is poised with all sorts of possibilities. It could top Beijing in terms of quality of performances. It could be the breakout games for a lot of top athletes and new ones too. It could see more world records broken.  All this is based on COULD. But if this news is any indication of what the London games is metamorphing to be then we had better brace ourselves. We could be in for a bumpy and drugy ride.

NDTC AT 50…STILL A YOUTH

 

 

 

When you visit the Facebook page of the NDTC you will see this line which states what the company is all about : “The National Dance Theatre Company is a voluntary organization of dancers, singers, musicians, creative technicians and administrators.”   And so it is. 50 years ago professor Rex Nettleford , Eddie Thomas et al created what was at its time probably a forward thinking theater group. Dance then in Jamaica was seen as someone living with HIV now- sad but tolerated. For 50 years the company was the foremost dance theater in the country, becoming the cultural ambassadors of the country. It represented the epitome of ones dance career. To be selected to dance in the NDTC was a recognition that you have attained a certain quality and degree of performance to be included in this celebrated company.

And so the NDTC was celebrated with packed houses over the past 50 years. And so it should. not only was dance the foremost talent on stage but also the very best in singing, musical accompaniment , staging, lighting and yes box office So in theory the NDTC was living its statement of being a voluntary organization of dancers, singers,musicians, creative technicians and administrators  all coming together to create this one whole – the Season of Dance.

The 50th season of dance is a celebration of its own accomplishment and perhaps its tribute to Jamaica 50. Everything else in the country is. The performance saw new works and a bit of the old classics my favorite being Sulkari. The new NDTC with its cadre of young performers did well, technically they made every choreographer happy for the night, no major flaws. They were not surgically sharp in all the performances, one can expect that and you also witnessed different performance levels of the dancers- some felt it while others were just going through the motion. Again you can expect that. Seeing the company 28 years later I drew from my last performance of dancers who were a bit more culturally mature, technically sounder and a more cohesive unit. You  got a different feel from both generations only too evident in  Gerrehbenta where the present dancers danced the piece while the older dancers performed the dance- 2 distinctly different perspective.  Again you can expect that. The singers had few changes- a few of the recognizable faces were there in full force hallowing out their vocals with clarity and vigor. The singers were good to watch and a pleasure to hear. Again you can expect that.

What I did not expect 50 years onward  is the technical difficulties for the music in a signature piece THE CROSSING. Faulty music, apparently from a scratchy CD made the performance null and void to end the first half of the performance. That I did not expect. 50 years and with all the technology in the world to help make performances like the NDTC flawless and we are still using whatever it is they were using. Inexcusable. But again you can expect that especially in a live performance. After all its theater and anything that can go wrong in theater usually does. But it is how you recover that makes a group  like the NDTC a good company rather than a GREAT  company.

Recovery was poor. An inaudible announcement followed by the quick turn on of house lights  indicated to the audience that it was intermission.  Yes there were the usual apologies but  that was not enough. A GREAT company would have recovered from their problems and presented the piece immediately after the intermission , do a quick reshuffling of the programme and give the audience what they promised to deliver. It would have cost them nothing , maybe 30 minutes more.

 The professor and his group has done a fantastic job over the last 50 years but as a cultural giant in the Jamaican society it should be in a better place than where it is now. No real website, very limited season and performances, still not a paying entity, no real or consistent merchandizing, not enough social interaction offering consistent classes for  youths and not yet a significantly dominant cultural force in the Caribbean or to use a favorite word of the region the Caribbean Diaspora where other country’s dance company can aspire to reach.

Is it money, is it the lack of time and diligence or is it the inane self indulged belief that because we are in the Caribbean we are limited by our resources. The legendary oratorical skill for which Nettleford was known, was often characterised in much the same terms as his dancing, namely a careful choreography of ideas which sought to captivate the imagination, as well as one’s sensibilities. This has been the NDTc legacy for the last 50 years. Now for the next 50. What next? Are we still going to see dances that are rooted to the floor, performances affected by poor CD quality, lighting from the 8s and 90s , a website that is but a page and non interactive and no real imagined opportunity to drive revenue to support itself and its talented cast?

The NDTC is 50 but it is still a youth, full of energy but needs a business driven leadership team to take it to the next 50 years milestone. Like Jamaica the NDTC seems to be settled and happy where it is. It seems to be happy with taking baby steps to realize their dreams and will reach its milestone when it does. I think thats a mistake. The NDTC is now bigger than life. It is capable  of making any decision that will become successful because of its ardent and religious following. It will do them well to lead its followers  as the professor wanted the group to lead. Lead the Caribbean and the world. Become a symbol of excellent theatrical management catapulting the  NDTC from being a good company to a GREAT company.

 

 

 

The Colorado Shooting

How many times this sort of tragedy happens in America? How many times have the innocent lost their lives and get wounded in America from some senseless idiot ? And how many times does the emotion of the people get caught up In the tragedy and everyone calls for a ban on this and a ban on that and off with the head of the perpetrator? Freedom with all of its self enduring pleasures is the Bain of this country’s existence.

This tragedy will happen again in some other time some other place . If there is freedom to carrying guns then we should expect this. Carrying guns is not the problem’. It’s the Assholes that are also free to carry them as well. How are we going to stop that? How do we know the mind set of anyone who buys a gun ? America….it’s the land of the FREE alright. Freedom to be as stupid as I want to be and get very little consequence. We are our worst enemy!