Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

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Dance of course has the power to touch the senses. The program we saw Thursday night touched the heart, and in ways that could not be more different.

“Memoria” was the late Alvin Ailey’s 1979 celebration of the life of Joyce Trisler, a dancer who died young. It felt a bit like traditional ballet and evolved from one woman in white, standing like a candle. That soon turned into a swirl of six male and female performers who at one point pressed their faces together, head to chin, into a column of grief. It concluded with a rousing multi-colored tempest of what must have been 50 dancers.

From 1979 to 2013: what came next was the premiere of Ronald Brown’s “Four Corners,” with the remarkable Matthew Rushing. It felt like an amalgam of modern dance, R&B, soul and more, that had the sold-out audience jumping up even before it ended.

Then, even more of a contrast, came Minus 16, an eclectic example of what I’m told is called Ga-Ga dance. It is a 1999 work by the Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, celebrating his late wife Mari Kajiwara, an Ailey dancer. It managed, somehow, to blend touches of Savion Glover, the Holocaust, a Yankee Stadium wave and yet another even more unlikely element. The dancers combed the audience for unwitting partners and led them on stage. In short order, the dance recruits stole the spotlight and we in the audience stood, clapped, whistled and shouted our approval. It was, I might be forgiven for saying in this context, a revelation.

The Ailey season continues through Jan. 5. For the schedule, click here.

Jack Rosenthal

 

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Posted: 12/12/13 by Barbara Tober

I was young and in New York when Alvin Ailey launched his American Dance Theatre in March 1958, and happened at that time to be married to someone who ­loved dance. So we went. The performances were memorable but never as polished and professional as they are today, but even then the audiences were transported by the creativity and athleticism of the dancers.

First Alvin Ailey himself, and then the incredible Judith Jamison, Artistic Director, carved out a place for the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre in the dance firmament that became irreplaceable on the international cultural scene. Those who saw the dances then will never forget the sight of the incomparable JJ – in Revelations – with her big white umbrella “walking on the water” to the standing ovations of the audience asking her never to stop.

And now… for the opening night gala… Alvin Ailey Dance performed the famous “Revelations” once again, with a live chorus and orchestral music, to an enthusiastically cheering audience of fans who once again stood and applauded with all the fervor they could muster.

Before this famous and beloved dance, there was an Ailey premiere with choreography by Wayne McGregor that took full advantage of the expertise of the Ailey dancers. Their supple ability for twists, turns and curls performing contemporary sculpture in motion -– dancers meeting, melding, embracing and parting -– created patterns on stage with each other in pairs and groups. The action was hypnotic yet vibrant, with always a sense of possible flight implied. This new work elicited enthusiastic applause, which should guarantee its future in the repertoire of Robert Battle, the new Artistic Director.

Should you wish for an experience so vital and expert that you “soar” out of the theatre, do go to Alvin Ailey. You’ll never regret the decision.

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