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The Caribbean Dance Company, a group of dancers and drummers from different islands in the West Indies, will perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 8 in Lafayette College’s Williams Center for the Arts.

Tickets cost $15 and may be purchased by calling the Williams Center box office at 610-330-5009.

There will be a welcoming event for the company with an informal covered dish dinner at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 7 in the faculty dining room of Marquis Hall. Any Lehigh Valley residents interested in attending may call the Williams Center at 610-330-5010.

The Caribbean Dance Company presents a rousing, brilliantly costumed program of music and dance from Trinidad, Haiti, Jamaica, and other cultures within the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. Performances feature the graceful movements of dancers, the sensational stilt-dancers of the “jumby” tradition, and the pulsing rhythms of drumming and pounding feet, in an evening of pageantry and movement.

Although afflicted with asthma as a child, Caribbean Dance Company Director Monty Thompson began dancing at an early age. Exposure to opera and folk music led him to discoveries about his mixed African/European heritage. Before leading the current company, Thompson island-hopped with a group of semi-professional dancers, bringing a mixture of native dances and new pieces that incorporated dance with Caribbean historical events. The current repertoire intermingles the dances of the French minuet with African religious rites brought over during the long period of slavery in the islands.

Since its founding in 1977, the Caribbean Dance Company has been on tour throughout Europe, Canada, the Middle East, and the United States.

“The accolades they have received are well earned; the dancers are beautifully trained, visually erotic and, although they are serious about their profession, they are vibrant both on and offstage,” writes the Vineyard Gazette of Martha’s Vineyard, where Thompson spent time giving classes before fully establishing his company in St. Croix, and has since returned to packed audiences. “…Mr. Thompson is still a dreamer, still inventing the world through magic; he is a man of the spirit and a man of humor – all of this and more is magnified through the prism of his vibrant, glamorous, sensual and stunning Caribbean Dance Company.”

As The Washington Post once reported, “Because lively rhythms are overlaid and interwoven with melody and choreographic line in so many of the Caribbean’s dance styles, Thompson has a consistent yet varied source of music and movement on which to draw, and he does so with taste plus flair.”

The 1999-2000 Performance Series at Lafayette College is sponsored, in part, by grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Mid Atlantic Foundation for the Arts.

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