Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
At New York City Center
Alvin Ailey – Founder
Judith Jamison – Artistic Director Emerita
Robert Battle – Artistic Director
Masazumi Chaya – Associate Artistic Director
Joan H. Weill, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Sharon Gersten Luckman --Executive Director
Calvin Hunt, Senior Director, Performance and Production
Dacquiri T’Shaun Smittick, Company Manager
Christopher Zunner, Director of Public Relations
Emily Hawkins, Public Relations Manager
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 8, 2011
(See Other Ailey Reviews and Photos)
Memoria (1979) In Memory- In Celebration: Choreography by Alvin Ailey, Music by Keith Jarrett (“Runes” and “Solara March”), Costumes by A. Christina Giannini, Lighting by Chenault Spence, Performed by the Company and members of The Ailey School.
It was wonderful to see Clifton Brown again, who is now called a guest artist. He appears now and then in Galas, and his performances captivate the audience and enervate every show he is in. Tonight’s performance of Ailey’s Memoria, a tribute to Joyce Trisler, was, as always, impassioned, full of the moment, and expressive of Mr. Ailey’s choreographic intent. Ms. Celeste Sims is a veritable treasure, another glowing dancer who always grips the eye. The Company wore peach, yellow, red, purple costumes, while the Ailey students showed fine training in upward sweeping arms and rapid leaps about the stage. Keith Jarrett’s “Runes” and “Solara March” create a jazzy, ethereal backdrop, as the dancers shift the mood from grieving to glamorous, in flowing costumes and glittering rapture. Choreographic highlights included turning on one leg in suspension and tiny barefoot jumps, amidst the muscular force of the dancers' well-toned bodies.
Arden Court (1981):Choreography by Paul Taylor, Music by William Boyce (Excerpts from Symphonies Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 8), Restaged by Cathy McCann Buck, Set and Costumes by Gene Moore, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. Paul Taylor’s choreography seemed so different, although always incandescent, with the Ailey Company dancing the 1981 Arden Court. Mr. Taylor, whose Company has danced for so many decades on this stage, will soon be seen at Koch Theater, Lincoln Center. I do prefer an ensemble company on the smaller, more intimately placed stage of New York City Center, but will wait to see how the Taylor Company fares in the new surroundings.
The Ailey Company danced to the Boyce Symphonies, women rolling under the men’s legs, men rolling under the women’s legs, after executing sharp, propulsive leg splits and extra high elevation. There were upside down somersaults, edgy lifts with men hoisted to shoulders, and dancers and audience seemed enthralled. The Gene Moore costumes displayed leaf designs and polka dots, and the dancers, many of whom seemed new, perhaps Ailey II graduates or new trainees, threw themselves into the joyful fray. I do think a bit of trembling and balancing upsets need to be ironed out, as this was a new performance project with unfamiliar challenges.
Revelations (1960): Choreography by Alvin Ailey, Music: Traditional, Décor and costumes by Ves Harper, Costumes for "Rocka My Soul" redesigned by Barbara Forbes, Lighting by Nicola Cernovitch, Performed by the Company. I never tire of Revelations, and neither did tonight’s audience. Michael Francis McBride performed the “I Wanna Be Ready” piece, with intense abdominal and upper leg strength, as he writhes in angst on the stage. The “Fix Me, Jesus” piece was danced by Ghrai DeVore and Marcus Jarrell Willis, with serenity, reverence, and poignancy. One thing about the Ailey Company, they have exquisite stage presence, always in “affect”. “Sinner Man”, with its hormonal, rapid stage leaps, was danced by Michael Jackson, Jr., Yannick Lebrun, and Renaldo Gardner. Clifton Brown was back for “Wade in the Water” and the ensemble pieces, and everybody had a great time in this Pre-Holiday, annual ritual.
Kudos to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. You can catch them on tour by checking www.ailey.org.
Ailey Dance Theater in
Paul Taylor's "Arden Court"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik