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Joyce Campbell

Joyce Campbell whose name is synonymous with dance belong to the earlier generation of ‘creative dancers’ having been a foundation member of the Ivy Baxter Dance Group. Her sustained involvement in the field was rooted in dedication, hard work and a genuine love of dance. In her work with the NDTC she developed, according to an early account “a vivacity and grasp of kinetic movement in the traditional mould. Her forte was undoubtedly that of investing a folk character with dimensions of reality, giving her work an edge of artistry over others who danced similar roles. Her characterization of the Christadelphian Sister in Street People, the yard woman in Kas Kas, the other woman in Married Story, the water spirit in Pocomania, and the mother protector in Myal all indicated an admirable talent as an interpreter of Caribbean ancestral lore. Yet she was capable of the demands offered by the character of the matriarch in Resurrection as well as anchor roles as member of the chorus in ensemble dancing.”

She served as in-house consultant/adviser to the NDTC which she served as principal dancer and second-line choreographer collaborating with Artistic Director Rex Nettleford in field research into rituals and the recreational dances as well as promoting documentation and wide dissertation with the help of former NDTC principal Cheryl Ryman, Marjorie Whylie and the JBS/JIS film director Don Bucknor and with the patronage of then Minister Edward Seaga, himself a Founding Patron of the NDTC. Her collaboration with Barry Moncrieffe came later in life to put a seal on the Jamaican/Caribbean aesthetic of a group whose philosophy, vision and mission she believed in implicitly and defended and supported wholeheartedly.

Her knowledge and understanding of the Jamaican folk-forms deepened her work as a dance officer in the Jamaica Festival Commission and her responsibilities to mount annual competitions and exhibitions have given her a well-earned place in the dance ‘Who’s-Who’ of the island. Campbell was the Founder, and for three decades, director of the Jayteens Dance Workshop, which contributed seminally to the development of dance theatre in Jamaica throughout the 1960s and 1970s. A Musgrave Medalist, she was a dominant influence and advocate of community dance and she did annual tours of festival winners to North America from the mid 1980s. She conducted workshops in traditional dance throughout Jamaica, bringing to the concert stage Kumina, Dinki-Mini, Maypole and Quadrille. She was a forerunner to the work of folk singing groups, which followed her field work in rural Jamaica in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A veteran dance performer until the late 1990s, she toured throughout the world with the NDTC, appearing in Australia, the Soviet Union, Germany and Finland, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, as well as in Latin America, Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Caribbean.