THE name Patricia Judith Maryla Ricketts may not immediately ring a bell, but say Patsy Ricketts, and the word dance is almost guaranteed to follow.

September 16, 2014 3:21 PM

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Come National Heroes' Day — October 20 — Ricketts joins a long list of Jamaicans who will receive national awards at King's House where she will receive the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander (CD), for her sterling contribution to the creative arts in the area of dance.

This award comes following more than half-a-century as a dancer which has seen her take stages both locally and internationally with the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), as well as the Martha Graham School and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, both in New York.

Reacting to the national award Ricketts noted that it is an honour to be recognised, considering that she never embarked on her journey in dance for any awards, but strictly for the love of the craft.

"Wow, it is really an honour that the Government and people of Jamaica have seen fit to recognise me in this way. I am quite humbled by it. I never did this for honours, but because I love dance," she told the Jamaica Observer.

Her journey to the stages of the world through dance began at what is considered a late stage. She took her first dance class with the late dancer and choreographer Eddy Thomas at 18 years old, an age when many are well on their way. But she credits great teachers and a talent she was given by "the Almighty" for the incredible highs she has experienced.

Within two years of dancing with Thomas, Ricketts was made a provisional member of the newly formed NDTC and by 1967, when that company embarked on a tour of Canada, Ricketts was already cemented within the troupe.

"During the tour, I told Professor Nettleford that I wanted to go over the United States for study and training in dance. He advised me to audition for scholarships which I did and got into the Martha Graham School. While in New York, I auditioned for the Dance Theatre of Harlem and became one of the founding members of that company," Ricketts recalled.

"I was really lucky, because I did not have the required dance training, but they all said they liked my spirit. So I got in based on my spirit rather than technique, " she added.

After four years in the Big Apple, which saw her touring Europe, Ricketts decided it was time to come home and the NDTC welcomed her with open arms.

The year was 1973. And for the next six years, Ricketts would wow audiences with some of her most poignant and memorable pieces.

For her, the work that always remains with her is the Sitting in Limbo tableau from Nettleford's Tribute to Cliff.

"I have always loved Nettleford's sense of music. He was just able to choose the right music and put movement to it and in this piece he excelled," she said.

She is disappointed that of the NDTC's repertoire, she never had the opportunity to dance Gerrehbenta.

"That is what I tell dancers today; you must have that discipline it will take you far."

Source: jamaicaobserver.com

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