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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater - Following the Subtle Current Upstream, Bounty Verses, Revelations
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Alvin Ailey - Founder
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Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on
December 16, 2003

Following the Subtle Current Upstream (2000): Choreography by Alonzo King; Assistant to the Choreographer, Debra Rose; Music by Zakir Hussain, Miguel Frasconi, and Miriam Makeba; Costumes by Robert Rosenwasser; Lighting by Axel Morgenthaler; Performed by The Company. In the contemporary motif, often presented this season, a prepared piano along with wild, pulsating instruments, enhances the thundering storms, heard onstage with sirens, shattered glass, and injections of African culture. Alonzo King, Choreographer, has been awarded the Isadora Duncan Award for choreography, and he has ballets in the repertoires of more than fifty companies. Solos by Matthew Rushing, Clifton Brown, and Asha Thomas are virtuosic with muscularity and momentum. Total splits and charismatic charges of energy are the theme of this unique work. Kudos to Axel Morgenthaler for brilliantly effective lighting.

Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell & Benoit-Swan Pouffer in Following the Subtle Current Upstream, Choreographer: Alonzo King
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Bounty Verses (2003): Choreography by Dwight Rhoden; Assistant to the Choreographer, Desmond Richardson; Music by Various Artists; Costumes Designed by Miho Morinoue; Lighting and Scenic Design by Michael Korsch; Performed by the Company. A second, contemporary work, choreographed by Dwight Rhoden, offers musical excerpts from eclectic pieces, such as Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Bach's Cello Suites, Reich's Phase Patterns, Bach's Toccata and Fugues, and Didkovsky's I Kick My Hand. Dwight Rhoden was a Principal in the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

There was little partnering in this piece, in a similar fashion to the previous work, but the electric turned eclectic, as Bach and Vivaldi, Beethoven and Paganini-inspired passages, were book-ended with electric shocks of clashing vibrations. Airiness mixed with angst, and fascinating lines of choreographic patterns emerged amidst the interconnections of music and motif. Brilliant purple and green mixed with the blackness and silvery effects. Kudos to Dwight Rhoden, Miho Morinoue, and Michael Korsch for choreography, lighting, scenic design, and costumes.

Revelations (1960): Choreography by Alvin Ailey; Music, Traditional; D├ęcor and Costumes by Ves Harper; Costumes for "Rocka My Soul" Redesigned by Barbara Forbes; Lighting by Nicola Cernovitch; Performed by the Company. Tonight I focused on Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham, with the women in yellows and satisfying and comforting patterns in seated positions, with wide-brimmed hats and heated choreography. Kudos to Barbara Forbes. The energy, in such a signature style, seems to emanate from within the torso and extend through the arms and head. The legs appear last and enable these seasoned dancers to use the entire stage for the rousing refrains. The male dancers are classy and lyrical, and it was wonderful to see the Company in interrelating personas, after the previous works that featured patterns over partners.

Briana Reed and Amos J. Machanic, Jr. in Revelations, Choreographer: Alvin Ailey
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at