Awakening the legacy of Astor Johnson

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A report from Trinidad’s Express.

The Astor Johnson Repertory Dance Theatre (AJRDT) is in the process of re-establishing its presence in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean. The late Astor Johnson, a national award holder, was the founder and artistic director of the RDT. AJRDT is in the process of reviving the profound and timeless work of Astor Johnson and will tomorrow (October 1) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. host its first dance symposium entitled “Astor Johnson… Awake his Legacy”.

The symposium will commemorate the life and legacy of the late Astor Johnson, more than 30 years after his passing, and advocate and foster an emphasis on dance and dance education as a career choice. At the 2015 launch of “Awake His Legacy”, AJRDT rehearsal director, Marlon Phillip, spoke with passion. He commented on his AJRDT experience:

“It has been inspiring, life-changing, I felt a sense of belonging as a dancer. Most of my training has happened through RDT and the Caribbean School of Dancing (CSD). There was never enough for me to do as a dancer. Astor always provided that sense of challenge…bringing dancers from abroad, which allows you to measure yourself…it is very passionate and personal for me…it has allowed me to develop in my personal life, that level of confidence, sure in what you do and how you do it. RDT is like a diamond, a best kept secret. It has stood the test of time. We can bring Astor’s dances from 30 years ago and still be wowed. It has a very solid foundation, a rich legacy. We hope for your support”.

The Symposium will include speakers and friends of Astor, including poet Eintou Pearl Springer; feature a video compilation by Christopher Laird of an interview and dances choreographed by Astor Johnson; allow reflections by past AJRDT members; present a drumology, representing a key musical component of many of Astor’s pieces; talk about dance education and the business of dance; and offer an opportunity for young and upcoming AJRDT members to perform one of Astor’s signature pieces: “Ceremony of the Drum”.

The Astor Johnson “Awake His Legacy” Symposium will take place at the University of the West Indies Learning Resource Centre. Interested members of the public are invited to attend and are encouraged to make a donation to support and keep the legacy of Astor alive.

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