Copyright © 2007
The Astor Johnson Repertory Dance Theatre
of Trinidad & Tobago
All rights reserved

All Colour Photos © Jeffrey Chock

Archive of Works Performed by the Company

We are attempting to build our archives as accurately as possible. If anyone can help us to correct or update information below, we would greatly appreciate it. Simply contact us.

VICTIM (1972)
A widowed mother finds herself victim to her own selfishness, when she tries with fierce dominance to inhibit her only son.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

CHORREO (1972)
Trio of Spanish traditional dances.

Choreography:

HOUSE OF THE LORD (1972)
Suite of religious dances.

• Entrance

• Prayer for Peace: (Is like we don’t dig up in no special religion, but we still believe)

• Moaning: (And behold his eyes shall see what hitherto he could not)

• Soldiers: (We are soldiers in God’s Army)

• The Lord’s Prayer: (We praise him and glorify him)

You and I are all children of one faith, for the diverse paths of religion are fingers of the loving hand extended to all offering completeness of spirit to all, eager to receive.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

FUSION (1972)
A mixture of jazz styles and traditional African-Caribbean movements. Fusion is the company's signature piece.

Choreography: Astor Johnson
Music: Live, traditional African-Caribbean percussion, originally arranged by André Tanker.

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE (Nov. 1972)
A humorous dance mime satirizing an old-time country wedding.

Choreography: Astor Johnson
Music: Traditional African-Caribbean percussion

DEFIANT ERA (Nov. 1972)
(Inspired by the book The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James)

Against the background of the Haitian Revolution, the work is made up of sketches of the era when Toussaint L’Ouverture came into power.

1. Premonitions: Toussaint has visions of forthcoming bloodshed, suffering and conflict in the country. At the time of the great slave revolt, he decides that a leader is needed and such is his calling

2. Conflict: after years of bloody fighting among local, French and Spanish fractions, Toussaint L’ Ouverture seizes military control and is made Commander-in-Chief by the French Government.

3. Deception and Arrest: Under the pretext of signing a “treaty” of disbarment, Toussaint is deceived by French treachery, arrested and taken prisoner to France.

4. The Yellow Fever: At this time on the island, Lady Pauline, sister of Napoleon, has already arrived with dreams of establishing a “French Court”. She envisages ladies in waiting, court dancers, etc. The Yellow Fever rages and decimates the dancers daily.

5. Death in the Dungeon: Toussaint is plagued by loneliness, concern for his family and memories of past greatness in the cold confines of a dungeon in the Jura Mountains.

6. Epitaph: Words of tribute; a renewal of hope.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

WARM UP: (1972)
Depicts dancers at work in a studio.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

TRIO: (Nov. 1972)
Three Spanish influenced dances based on traditional rhythms and songs that are still with us today:

1. Waltz Castillian
2. Aguinaldo
3. Joropo

Choreography: Astor Johnson

SHE (1972)
A trilogy on the black woman. Literally, a comment on her womanhood; historically, an overall tracing of her race from the beginning of time until now; morally, a lesson in courage.

She is Africa…out of her womb shall come the warriors
She is Rhythm…and cannot be resisted
She is Black…She, she alone

Choreography: Astor Johnson
Music: Traditional African-Caribbean percussion/André Tanker
Poem: Lasana Kwesi

CONTRASTS: (1972)
These themes are different but the soloists make interesting contrasts in their style, points of view and their attack of each piece.

Choreography: Deborah Paray, Frank Ashley, Noble Douglas.

OPUS: (1974)
Rhythms, patterns shapes and moods are all thrown in, strictly for fun of moving; climaxing in a rousing celebration of life.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

ETUDE: (1974)
Moving in a semi-classical vein the piece studies the varying dimensions of a single phrase.

Choreography:

GRAVEYARD FOR THE LIVING: (pre-1974)
An essay on human isolation, set in a jail.
1. The Initiation
2. Dream
3. Flight/Escape
4. Web
5. Madness and Escape/ Another Escape

Choreography: Astor Johnson

Music: Traditional

THE DANSE NEGRE (c. 1972)
A medley of African-rooted folk dances

4. Manding - festive piece from the Mandingos/Ibo - brought to the West by the Ibos: the dancers simulate the movement of birds in flight, conflict and harmony;

5. Ewe-O - based more on Traditional African-Caribbean percussion neighbours consoling a bereaved woman/Broom Dance - a Traditional African-Caribbean percussion ritual is celebrated;

6. Ganga - the dancers celebrate Ogun, one of the highest "Saints" in the Yoruba hierarchy in a pre-ceremonial dance.

Choreography: Astor Johnson
Music: Traditional African-Caribbean percussion

SCHOOL DAYS (1974)
A take-off on a theme of a calypso by the Mighty Sparrow.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

PAS DE DEUX (pre-1974)
(From “Love Songs”) The thrill of a first affair.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

VA-KA-KO (Dec. 1974)
A woman and her past…searching…celebrating…brooding.

Choreography: Astor Johnson
Music: Herbie Hancock

THE TRIBAL CITY (1974)
A dream about returning to the homeland.

Choreography: Astor Johnson
Music: Andre Tanker

A SONG FOR YEMANJA (Dec. 1974)
Based on the mythological religious pantheon of the Gods of the Yoruba Orisa, the work celebrates “Yemanja”, goddess of the seas and waters. It is the feast of “Yemanja”, patron saint of the temple which she guards.
1. The worshippers enter and dance in the ritual of celebration.
2. The main celebrant is mystically transported by Yemanja’s horses to another realm and now she becomes Yemanja.
3. The spirit leaves and the worshippers depart.

Choreography: Astor Johnson
Music: Traditional African-Caribbean percussion

SILHOUETTE: (pre-July/Aug. 1974)
Choreography: Austin Forsyth

TANGO: (July/Aug. 1974)
Choreography: Michael Steel

CARIBE: (July/Aug. 1975)
Choreography: Frank Ashley

BLACK FLOWER (July/Aug. 1975)
A throwback on the final stage of a reactionary.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

GOIN’ HOME (1975)
Choreography: Astor Johnson

AFRICA, AFRICA (pre-July/Aug. 1975)
An impressionistic piece which pays tribute to "Mother Africa"
4. Sowing the Seed - The women clean and bless the land sowing their seeds
5. The Warriors blossom - The "seeds" blossom into strong trees
6. Celebration Harvest - There is joy at harvest time.

Choreography: Astor Johnson
Music: Traditional African-Caribbean percussion

BLOOD WEDDING (early 1980s?)
Based on the play by Frederico Lorca. The piece is not a literal translation of Lorca’s tragic work, but seeks to capture the essence and its implications through the four main characters against a background of Spanish colonial Trinidad.

1. The Prologue - Death is standing over the dead bodies of the bride, the bridegroom and Leonardo, an ex-lover of the bride.
2. The Return - The bride retires and later sees the reflection in her mirror of Leonardo, an ex-lover of hers who was hiding in her chamber. He seduces her and carries her off into the night.
3. In the Forest - The mother of the groom, transformed into a figure of death, seeks to avenge the shame of her son and to punish the bride for her sin. She leads her son to the lovers in the forest.
4. Epilogue - The rivals turn upon each other but both the groom and Leonardo are killed in the fray. Consequently the mother forces the bride to take her own life in a final act of vengeance.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

COME YE DISCONSOLATE (NOV. /DEC. 1976)
At the party:
1. Rent-a-Tile
2. Disco Beat
3. Tripping
4. It’s getting late.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

DAMBALA (JUNE 1977)
A dance based on Haitian ritual in tribute to Dambala to the Snake God.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

SONGS OF FAITH AND FREEDOM (JUNE 1977)
The feelings of hope, pathos and longing are recaptured in these melodies that are now universal in their theme and imagery. (Interpretation of a suite of well-known black spirituals.)

Choreography: Anthony Payne (Barbados)

COLOR HIM ANDRE (JULY 1977)
A journey into the personality of the Trinidadian musician/composer André Tanker via the variations of his own composition.

1. Lyrical Andre
2. On the quiet side
3. Mystically reflective
4. Silent Power
5. Ever so joyful

Choreography: Astor Johnson, Kathak movements by Sat Balkaransingh.

PLAY MAS: (JULY 1977)
Living portraits of the Trinidad Carnival.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

CHILD OF THE EARTH: (July 1977)
The moving story of a couple in flight from the terrors of their fatherland. Fleeing, they seek a better place in which to live free from scorn.

Choreography: Kevin Rotardier

MOODS: (July 1977)
A touch of the temporary:
1. Nocturne: Choreography: Jackie Celestine
2. Good morning Heartache: Choreography: Astor Johnson
3. Walk on Water: Choreography: Margaret Taylor
4. Disco Connection: Choreography: David Byer

CYCLE: (June/July 1978)
Choreography: Jackie Celestine

NITE LADY: (June/July 1978)
Choreography: Austin Forsythe

LA DIABLESSE (June/July 1978)
Choreography: Henry Daniel

SUN PEOPLE: (June/July 1978)
Choreography: Astor Johnson

EL REY: (June/July 1978)
Choreography: Astor Johnson

MIX, SWIZZLE N’ SERVE: (June/July 1978)
Choreography: Astor Johnson

STAY UP ZIMBABWE: (July 1979)
The works reflects upon Brother Valentino’s battle-hymn of the same name.
1. The Invocation
2. Images

Choreography: Astor Johnson

FRIEND IN JESUS: (July 1979)
Choreography: Aretha Franklin
Music: Frank Ashley

TAMBOURINAGE MYSTIQUE: (July 1979)
Scene 1: The occasion is a big drum dance to celebrate a successful; crop. Leading drummer and dancer, Sugar is there to lead the celebrations with his wife. His rival, second drummer, executes his own plan.

Scene 2: The rival has a disturbing night spell filled with hallucinations and a heated war with his conscience. The night of the forty days vigil begins. The wife is encouraged to dance “pour moi”. The rival has another idea. Sugar mysteriously intervenes and reveals the truth to his beloved.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

Music: Traditional

TRIBUTE TO A KING (1981)
An essay on the ideas of the late Bob Marley, who died in 1981.
6. Prelude
7. Redemption Song
8. Sorrows
9. Get up, Stand up
10. In celebration

Choreography: Astor Johnson
Music. Bob Marley

RITE OF PASSAGE
A mating fantasy drawing freely from the snake-like movements of the Yanvolou.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

Music: Traditional

ROCK STEADY
Choreography: Frank Ashley

CARNIVAL

BLACK WOMAN

FLIGHT

ZION

IN THE BEGINNING

CELEBRATION

SPIRITUAL MELODY

TOUCH AND GO

HEEL AND TOE

NAROMIWA (1983)
Choreography: Loris Beckles

CEREMONY OF THE DRUM (early 1980s)
Based loosely on the celebration of the “Assotor” drum of Haiti, keeper of all the secrets of the ancestors.

Choreography: Astor Johnson

Music: Traditional African-Caribbean percussion

WONDERMENT (1983)
An exploration moods using the songs of Stevie Wonder

Choreography: Astor Johnson
Music: Stevie Wonder

MANTIS (1983)
The mating ritual of the praying mantis. In order to procreate, the female must kill the male after fertilization.

Choreography: Astor Johnson
Music: Henry Cowen; Traditional African-Caribbean percussion
Design: Astor Johnson

KYO (1985)
Based on the Buddhist chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, the dance explores the universe through the elements of Earth, Wind, Water and Fire. This was the last full dance that Astor Johnson choreographed before his death in 1985. It also reflected his religion, since he had become a Buddhist in the latter part of his life.

Movements
• Earth
• Wind
• Water
• Fire

Choreography: Astor Johnson
Music: Traditional African-Caribbean and African-Brazilian percussion.

CHILD OF THE EARTH
Choreography: Frank Ashley (?)

TRISTESSE (early 1980s)
Choreography: Natalie Rogers

DANCE ROYAL

A QUESTION OF POWER (1987)
Choreography: Felix Harrington

TIEF FROM TIEF (1987)
Choreography: Sonja Dumas

FOR ASTOR (1987)
A solo to the poem of the same name by Eintou Springer
Choreography: Patricia Roe

WOMAN JOURNEY (1988)
A comment on women under Apartheid using sign language.
Choreography: Sonja Dumas

SARACA (LATE 1980S)
Choreography: Peter London

PIQUE (late 1980s)
Choreography: Peter London

CANTOBELLO DAYDREAM (1985)
Choreography: Loris Beckles

AN OFFERING (1993)
An offering of dance to the company by the choreographer.
Choreography: Loris Beckles

TIME OUT (1995?)
Choreography: Claudia Applewhaite

GRANDFATHER’S PRAYER

SPACED (1988??)
Choreography: Patricia Roe

DAME LORRAINE (1991)
Choreography: Sonja Dumas

NO ESCAPE (1991)
Choreography: Allan Balfour

SKETCHING I (1991)
Choreography: Ronald Taylor

BELE (1993)
Choreography: Raymond Ross

PROMISE (1993)
Choreography: Gary De Matas
Music: Michael Jackson

THE SEA IS HISTORY (1993)
An interpretation of Caribbean history and nationhood through the poem, The Sea is History, by Derek Walcott.
Choreography: Sonja Dumas

THE CHOSEN

EVERY WOMAN (1995)
Choreography: Gary De Matas

GIRL (1995)
A coming of age between mother and daughter, set to the poem of the same name by Jamaica Kincaid
Choreography: Sonja Dumas

SR 70 II (2006)
For André and André (A. George and A. Tanker)
Choreography: Loris Beckles
Music: Steve Reich [Sextet, 5th movement] (in the year of his 70th birthday)

SUITE BEAUTY, part II (2001)
Choreography: Loris Beckles
Music: Ryuichi Sakamoto [Futique]

THE “M” WORD (2005)
Choreography: Sonja Dumas
Music: Johann Sebastian Bach [Concerto for Harpsichord in F Minor, Movements 2 and 3]

‘R ADAR BACH (2005)
Solo to Welsh period music and poetry interpreted by Mary-Ann Roberts (voice) and Robert Evans (crwth and lyre)
Choreography: Claudia Applewhaite

POMMERAC (2005)
An interpretation of the rapso Pommerac by Mzee and Ayow – red and purple body, cotton flesh and all.
Choreography: Sonja Dumas

TRANSCENDENCE (2005)
Music: Traditional African-Caribbean percussion, Eyuphuro, Giampiero Ponte
(guest performed by the Metamorphosis Dance Company)
Choreography: Gary De Matas

PASSIONTIDE (2005)
Yea though I walk…. A couple, in Limbo, searches for redemption
Choreography: Gregor Breedy
Music: John Debne