Alvin Ailey Dance Company

Alvin Ailey Dance Company

Alvin Ailey Dance Company

Alvin Ailey’s legacy burns brightly, but the company’s “season” is often short and sporadic. The group performed on Saturday — April “Fools” — and over that weekend at the NYU Skirball Performing Arts Center to a “sold out” audience. And no wonder…

The athleticism and expertise of these dancers (and never can one call an Ailey evening “ballet”) is so extraordinary that any photographs they display promoting their work is actually minimizing their trajectory.

Our night included: “In and Out,” “Meika and Gemeos” and “Something Tangible”…. All if which were expertly executed by members of the company, along with a number of solos. Their “airs above the ground” are feats of anti-gravity, which bring exultant screams from the house and a sense of disbelief. Each one had been choreographed to create the most wondrous effects, and it is difficult to believe that during rehearsal the words “You want me to do what!” are not frequently heard.

The body types of the company are basically long and leggy, although there are occasional examples of those whose configurations are rounder and shorter. They all have to conform to the ballet master’s demands, which, this particular evening and because of their rigorous standards, sometimes come this close to being repetitive.

Like watching the Olympics at the top level, this is never boring… just constant “heart in your mouth” as the audience vibrates to their rhythms.

One thing is clear throughout, there is JOY on the stage. Constant, unalloyed delight on the part of the dancers who grin from ear to ear (not the professional smile often seen in ballet) but a “Wow, did you see what I did!!!” kind of elation that is particularly brilliant during the final curtain call.

Barbara Tober

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