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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Memoria, Among Us (Private Spaces: Public Places), Revelations
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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Memoria, Among Us (Private Spaces: Public Places), Revelations

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
At City Center

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, Senior Director, Performance and Production
Terence Dale, Company Manager
Thomas Cott, Director of Marketing
Lynette P. Rizzo, Associate Director of Marketing
Christopher Zunner, Director of Public Relations

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 4, 2009

(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. What a great work to see first in the Ailey Company’s 2009 City Center Season. This was Alvin Ailey’s grand work of 1979 that paid tribute to his friend, Joyce Trisler. Keith Jarrett’s “Runes” and “Solara March” creates an ethereal musical backdrop, as the Company and students of The Ailey School shift the mood from grieving to glamorous, in flowing costumes and glittering rapture.

There are red, lavender, and white silky costumes, mixed with flesh unitards, and the vision of up-stretched arms gave this work its driving force. Ms. Celeste Sims literally defied gravity in her bending, shifting balances, and undulating torso, as she seized Memoria’s momentum. Sweeping gestures, turning on one leg in suspension, and the ever-present muscular force of the dancers' well-toned bodies enhanced the spiritually soaring, piano-sax score. There were even tiny jumps, barefoot, much like a ballerina's tiny jumps en pointe. This was a fitting tribute to Ailey’s much-loved choreographer friend.

Among Us (Private Spaces: Public Places) (2009): Choreography by Judith Jamison, Assistant to the Choreographer: Clifton Brown, Original composition by Eric Lewis, Costumes by Paul Tazewell, Lighting and scenic design by Al Crawford, Performed by the Company. Judith Jamison’s new choreography, Among Us (Private Spaces: Public Places) is fast becoming one of my favorites of the Ailey repertoire. Clifton Brown, who gives this piece personality, pizzazz, and power, served as Assistant to Ms. Jamison in the dance design stages. Ms. Jamison’s lively fantasy portraits are hanging on the walls, and this work is somewhat like dreaming you woke up in a downtown art gallery, and a bluebird (Clifton Brown) is giving you a tour.

Eric Lewis’ eclectic, jazzy, ethnic, classically infused score builds the tension and thrill of the gallery guests, divided into “Soft Edges” (Hope Boykin and Kirven James Boyd, Rosalyn Deshauteurs and Vernard J. Gilmore), “Lost & Found” (Ronnie Favors and Matthew Rushing), “Precedent (President)” (The Company), “Afterwards” (Mr. Brown, Mr. Rushing, Mr. Gilmore), “Brights” (Linda Celeste Sims and Glenn Allen Sims), and “Uptown Down” (The Company). Al Crawford’s gallery set has corners and shadows, like a German expressionist film, but this piece is seldom eerie. In fact, Clifton Brown uses so much buoyant gesture, of his head, his torso, his affect and attitude, that I was sorry when the lights flashed off. The dancing, romantically dueling couples were adorable and characteristic of Ms. Jamison’s oeuvres. There were even three street-smart men, who posed in sync with one of Ms. Jamison’s paintings.

The intensity and vivacity of Among Us was contagious, and momentum built with each new musical phrase. Linda Celeste Sims and Glenn Allen Sims drew the spotlight and the audience’s attention in their daring, dramatic duo, with their long-time chemistry smoldering throughout. When Jamar Roberts led “Precedent” and Aisha Mitchell led “Uptown Down”, I saw bits and pieces of Alvin Ailey’s ethnically diffusive dances, African here, Indian there, American folkloric and so on. I look forward to my second viewing of this work.

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. There’s no such thing as too many viewings of Revelations, with its sweeping visuals and gospels, most of which swirl in my mind for weeks after the season ends. In tonight’s performance, Brianna Reed and Amos J. Machanic, Jr. were transporting in their focus and passion in “Fix Me, Jesus”. In fact, I’d like to note that after decades of performing this work on New York and national - international stages, not one dancer in the company drops one iota of focus and passion, not one iota of drive and dedication to this inspiring and nurturing work. Vernard J. Gilmore’s “I Wanna Be Ready” used every ounce of internal musculature, every ounce of strength of limbs and torso, as he lifted slowly and sinuously, off the stage floor. “Sinner Man” brought Samuel Lee Roberts, Yannick Lebrun, and Michael Francis McBride mid-air in running splits. Of course, “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham” brought the house down.

Kudos to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. You can catch them on tour by checking

Alvin Ailey's "Memoria"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Linda Celeste Sims in
Judith Jamison's
"Among Us"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Clifton Brown in
Judith Jamison's
"Among Us"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Jamar Roberts in
Judith Jamison's
"Among Us"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Alvin Ailey's "Revelations"
Courtesy of Nan Melville

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