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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Memoria, Juba, Caught, Grace
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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 22, 2005
Originally Published on

Memoria (1979) In Memory and in Celebration: Choreography by Alvin Ailey, Music by Keith Jarrett (Runes Solara March), Costumes by A. Christina Giannini, Lighting by Chenault Spence, Performed by the Company and members of The Ailey School.

In a series of costumes that ranged from flowing lavender to light flesh colored unitards to brightly colored tights, the Company and members of The Ailey School danced barefoot in sweeping gestures, often turning on one leg in suspension, as if to defy gravity, through the ever-present muscular force of the dancers' well-toned bodies. In fact, well-toned is an understatement, as I have never seen a company so muscle-toned, so independent of a partner's support. The Keith Jarrett score, with piano and soaring sax, was uplifting and spiritual. Ailey's quintessential choreography of this work, created as a tribute to Ailey's friend, Joyce Trisler, also included tiny jumps, barefoot, much like a ballerina's tiny jumps en pointe.

Juba (2003): Choreography by Robert Battle, Assistants to the Choreographer: Elisa Clark and Katarzyna Skarpetowska, Original Score Composed by John Mackey, Costumes Designed by Mia McSwain, Lighting Designed by Burke J. Wilmore, Performed by Hope Boykin, Matthew Rushing, Abdur-Rahim Jackson, Glenn Allen Sims.

This relatively recent, hyper-kinetic work for an ensemble of one female dancer and three male dancers has dancers in blue and black costumes by Mia McSwain, and they twist, turn, and twitch in electronic pulsation, a riveting, powerful work. Against an orange and black-lit backdrop, dancers move to the pulse and precision of the John Mackey contemporary score. Each dancer exuded virtuosic presence, especially Mr. Jackson.
Caught (1982): Choreography by David Parsons, Staged by Elizabeth Koeppen, Music by Robert Fripp, Lighting Concept by David Parsons, Lighting by Howell Binkley, Performed by Linda Celeste Sims..
Every time I see this work, whether danced by the Parsons Dance Company or by a ballet principal at a gala, I am transfixed by the stunning timing of the dancer to the strobe light. In fact, the dancer has to hold the light control in the hand and then turn the switch just as he/she is mid-air, then turning off the light, just as he/she hits the stage. Thus, the visual effect of flying or propelling forward with bent torso, a few feet above ground.

Linda Celeste Sims will be written in dance notes as a master of this intricate and challenging technique. Speaking of well-toned...Ms. Sims is all muscle, all buoyancy, all personality, all rhythm. In a two piece white pantsuit, open enough to reveal her taut torso, Ms. Sims did some extra side-kicks, with bent body, like a rubber ball of a form, bouncing and bending en air. Her leaps and lunges, to the strobe and percussion, were exact and even extra images, in the challenging choreographic feats, designed by David Parsons. Kudos to Mr. Parsons and kudos to Ms. Sims.
Grace (1999): Choreography by Ronald K. Brown, Assistants to Mr. Brown, Angelica Patterson, Telly Fowler, Music: Various Artists (Duke Ellington, Roy Davis, Jr., Paul Johnson, Fela Kuti), Costumes by Omatayo Wunmi Olaiya, Lighting by William H. Grant III, Performed by Renee Robinson, Dwana Adiaha Smallwood, Linda Celeste Sims, Rosalyn Deshauteurs, Briana Reed, Matthew Rushing, Amos J. Machanic, Jr., Glenn Allen Sims, Abdur-Rahim Jackson, Vernard J. Gilmore, Kirven J. Boyd.

I have seen this work at least once, almost each season, and it never tires, but rather transcends, the memory of the previous time. In red or white costumes, with contrasting walks, rhythms, ensemble groupings, moods, and dance motif, all set to the varied scores, Ellington to Roy Davis, Jr.'s "The Rock Shock", dancers appear and disappear, partner and solo, run, walk, spin, carry, lift, and affect startling, determined attitude. Kudos to Renee Robinson for her particular passion and presence.

The repertory works of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will appear at City Center, NY, through January 1, 2006.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Alvin Ailey's "Memoria."
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Robert Battle's "Juba."
Photo courtesy of Nan Melville

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Clifton Brown in David Parsons's "Caught."
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Ronald K. Brown's "Grace."
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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