Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Ife/My Heart, Acceptance in Surrender, Solo, Reminiscin'
-Onstage with the Dancers
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Alvin Ailey - Founder
Judith Jamison - Artistic Director
Joan H. Weill, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Masazumi Chaya - Associate Artistic Director
Sharon Gersten Luckman — Executive Director
Calvin Hunt, General Manager/Director of Production
Amadea Edwards Andino, Manager of Administration
Dacquiri T'Shaun Smittick, Company Manager
Jodi Pam Krizer, Director, Marketing and Public Relations
Lynette Rizzo, Associate Director of Marketing
Tyrha M. Lindsey - Associate Director of Public Relations
Helene Davis - Press
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 30, 2005
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
Ife/My Heart (2005) Choreography by Ronald K. Brown, Assistant to the Choreographer, Arcell Cabuag, Music by Various Artists, Costume Design by Omatayo Wunmi Olaiya, Lighting Design by Brenda Gray, Performed by Renee Robinson, Glenn Allen Sims, Jamar Roberts, Kirven J. Boyd, Asha Thomas, Matthew Rushing, Linda Celeste Sims, Amos J. Mechanic, Jr., Roxanne Lyst.
In this New Works program, four new or newly presented works created a dynamic and electrifying evening at the sold-out City Center. Ife/My Heart, a new work by Ronald K. Brown, who also choreographed Grace, with white costumes and blue/black/pink background, set to music and poetry in African prayers, chants, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and a contemporary song by Ursula Rucker, will be one of those works to re-appear frequently in new Ailey repertoire. The contrasting tone, speed, style, and mood in this work are remarkable. One male dancer appears onstage, solo, followed by an ensemble in similar white: women in dresses, men in American or African pants motifs. The earlier lone prayer has given way to a fusion of cultural and religious sound.
Some of the spins and wide-stretched arms were reminiscent of Ailey's signature works, and the drums and percussion added to the intense drama of the work. The white costumes and some of the entrances and exits in contrasting timing quoted from Grace. Like Grace, this work needs to be revisited often to absorb the choreographic layers.
Acceptance in Surrender (2005) Choreography by Hope Boykin, Abdur-Rahim Jackson, Matthew Rushing, Original Composition by Philip Hamilton, "Seven Steps" Composed by Philip Hamilton & Peter Jones, Additional Music by Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, Costume Design by Hope Boykin, Abdur-Rahim Jackson, Matthew Rushing, Costume Consultant, Jon Taylor, Lighting Design by Al Crawford, Performed by Renee Robinson, Jamar Roberts, Vernard J. Gilmore, Amos J. Mechanic, Jr.
Three of the Ailey dancers have teamed choreographically on this brief new work, and not one of them appeared in the performance. Rather they showcased their colleagues, and the latter solo piano score was an excellent bookend to the subsequent work set to solo violin. Renee Robinson danced with three partners, and her silky, pastel costume on leotards added an impressionistic vision to the groupings and figures in the dimly lit stage. When the four dancers merged, the audience seemed breathless with the rapturous creation. It's professionally supportive to feature works by the performers, and this model worked well.
Solo (1997) Choreography by Hans van Manen, Staged by Mea van Dijken Venema, Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Costume Design by Keso Dekker, Lighting Design by Joop Caboort, Performed by Clifton Brown, Glenn Allen Sims, Matthew Rushing. Some of the choreography in this "solo" for three men was evocative of the humor in the final section of Ailey's Revelations. However, here the humorous body language is for the men, rather than for the women in yellow dresses, frilly fans, wooden stools, and wide-brimmed hats.
Mr. Brown, Mr. Sims, and Mr. Rushing played against each other's strengths and muscularity with macho bravado, audience engagement, and sheer power and skill. With a classical score and a contemporary style, the dancers connected briefly, and each danced sequential solos with virtuosity. The van Manen choreography (leaps, humor, shrugs, hands) was quite reminiscent of Paul Taylor's genre, often set to classical scores. However, the work as a whole was unique and well matched to the previous dance.
Reminiscin' (2005) Choreography by Judith Jamison, Music by Various Artists, Costume Design by Ann Hould Ward, Lighting Design by Tim Hunter, Scenic Design by Michael Fagin, Assistant to the Choreographer, Clifton Brown, Performed by Renee Robinson, Dwana Adiaha Smallwood, Linda Celeste Sims, Asha Thomas, Wendy White Sasser, Hope Boykin, Matthew Rushing, Glenn Allen Sims, Vernard J. Gilmore, Clifton Brown, Kirven J. Boyd.
My favorite new work tonight was Ms. Jamison's Reminiscin'. With a collections of upbeat vocal ballads, like "Love Me or Leave Me", "Oh, Lady, Be Good", "Always", and "A Tisket a Tasket", plus "A Case of You" (Joni Mitchell), and "Mandingo Street" (Richard Bona), plus the best bar ever seen on a modern dance stage, the company danced with theatricality, pathos, humor, and bravura. When "A Case of You" is sung, Hope Boykin does some of the best dancing I've seen her do for years, leaping and lunging onto her partner with obviously muscular quadriceps.
This is obviously seasoned and mature choreography, with romantic whimsy and want, delineated desire, and a superb knowledge of the skills of the company to pull of the threaded story line without compromising the passion and power that only the Ailey Dance Theater can generate. This has been a superb 2005 NY season for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Check www.alvinailey.org to catch them on their multi-city tour. This company is not to be missed, and the new works enhance the Ailey repertoire.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Clifton Brown in Hans van Manen's Solo.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Eccles
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Matthew Rushing and Renee Robinson in Judith Jamison's Reminiscin'.
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Hope Boykin and Clifton Brown in Judith Jamison's Reminiscin'.
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik