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Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
December 12, 2003
Originally Published on

Serving Nia (2001): Choreography by Ronald K. Brown; Assistant to the Choreographer, Dierdre N. Dawkins, Telly Fowler; Music by Roy Brooks, Branford Marsalis, M'Bemba Bangoura, Dizzy Gillespie; Costumes by Omatayo Wunmi Olaiya; Lighting Designed by Brenda Dolan; Performed by the Company. This season seemed to introduce many works with African culture and contemporary motifs. Serving Nia, choreographed by Ronald K. Brown, includes Branford Marsalis' Jungle Grove and John Gillespie's Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac, performed by Dizzy Gillespie. This dynamic, jazzy work, with the male dancers in extreme focus (with only one female dancer, Cheryl Rowley-Gaskins), is infused with percussive, Afro-Jazz , in dim lighting against a black backdrop. The golden costumes by Omatayo Wunmi Olaiya are filled with bold lightness.

Treading (1979): Choreography by Elisa Monte; Music by Steve Reich "Eighteen Musicians"; Costumes by Marisol; Lighting by Beverly Emmons; Performed by Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell and Clifton Brown. Elisa Monte danced with Agnes DeMille in Carousel and was a Principal in the Martha Graham Dance Company. This sensual duet, with a chanting violin score by Steve Reich, allows the virtuosity of Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell and Clifton Brown to take the audience to an ethereal space in time. The fluid body movements with muscular contortions and sexual illusions are breathtaking. Ms. Fisher-Harrell has the ability to appear powerful and lifeless in instantaneous switching of choreographed figures. Ms. Brown is an amazing, athletic presence.

Heart Song (2000): Choreography by Alonzo King; Assistants to the Choreographer, Debra Rose, Lauren Porter; Music Composed and Performed by Bouchaib Abdelhadi, Yassir Chadly, Hafida Ghanim; Costumes Designed by Robert Rosenwasser; Lighting Designed by Axel Morgenthaler; Scenic Design by Robert Rosenwasser; Performed by the Company. Once again, the Arabian and African drumbeats and hauntingly evocative stringed instruments create an edgy dissonance and contemporary, cultural motif. Dwana Adiaha Smallwood and Asha Thomas are outstanding in Tala'a l-Badru 'Alayna, and Ms. Smallwood's solo, Allah ya Mulena allows her long limbs and statuesque figure to shine. Kudos to Alonzo King.

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. Every time I have had the pleasure of seeing Revelations over the years, lovingly choreographed by Alvin Ailey, and ever so lovingly mounted by Judith Jamison in most of this season's performances, I see or hear something new and focus more lucidly on something familiar. Linda Celeste Sims and Amos J. Mechanic, Jr. are mournful and soulful in Fix Me, Jesus, with critical footwork and tiny turns.

The visions of the white umbrella and long white sticks with waving silks, in the Processional/Honor, Honor, and the undulating river, in Wade in the Water, are emblazoned in one's mind eternally, especially this season, in which most programs were designed to showcase the cultural and contemporary pieces, followed by Revelations. The Gospel music of I Wanna Be Ready (danced solo by Guillermo Asca) and Sinner Man (danced by Jamar Roberts, Dion Wilson, and Vernard J. Gilmore) is the music that plays in one's mind at odd times of the day, long after the curtain has come down at City Center.

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