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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: The River, Flowers, 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
Dacquiri T’Shaun Smittick, Company Manager
Amadea Edwards, Manager, Performance and Production
Jodi Pam Krizer, Director of Marketing
Lynette Rizzo, Associate Director of Marketing
Jennifer Fyall, Marketing Coordinator
Christopher Zunner, Director of Public Relations

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 11, 2007

(See Other Ailey Reviews and Photos)

The River (1970): Choreography by Alvin Ailey, Restaged by Masazumi Chaya, Original Score by Duke Ellington ("The River"), Original Music Coordinator: Martha Johnson, Costumes by A. Christina Giannini, Lighting by Chenault Spence, Performed by the Company. This 1970 Ailey work is divided into “Spring”, “Meander”, “Giggling Rapids”, “Lake”, “Falls”, “Vortex”, “Riba” (Mainstream), and “Twin Cities”. The metaphor is the journey, and the dancers, in pale blue/white/grey, evoke many genres of dance: classical, jazz, and ballet. Alicia Graf and Jamar Roberts were especially captivating as they led the “Lake” segment, as Ms. Graf has an angular, balletic figure that mesmerizes the viewer. Ebony Haswell was noteworthy in her “Vortex” solo, and the versatile Guillermo Asca led “Riba” with muscularity and intensity.

Flowers (1971): Choreography by Alvin Ailey, Restaged by Masazumi Chaya, Music by Janis Joplin, Blind Faith, Pink Floyd, Décor and Costume design by A. Christina Giannini, Lighting design by Nicola Cernovitch, Performed by Linda Celeste Sims, Clifton Brown, Guillermo Asca, Amos J. Machanic Jr., Vernard J. Gilmore, Abdur-Rahim Jackson, Antonio Douthit, and Kirven J. Boyd. Flowers was a must-see-again dance, and, fortunately I did see this work twice, with two different casts. Tonight, Linda Celeste Sims carved out her tremendous standing in the Company, as she personified Janis Joplin, as a seductive, vulnerable, victimized, courageous, and strong woman, who lives, works, and falls hard.

Masazumi Chaya has re-staged this 1970’s Ailey work to exude nuance and passion, authenticity and angst. A. Christina Giannini’s costumes are as psychedelic as are Ms. Joplin’s dreams, as she is consumed by gauntlets of rapists and paparazzi. Ruffles, boas, and tourniquets are the props of this riveting dance-story, and Clifton Brown (Ms. Celeste Sims’ frequent partner this season) also carved out his standing. Nicola Cernovitch’s lighting enabled the starlet spotlight and the dim dreams to unfold so luminously. Mr. Chaya and Judith Jamison brought us many new-old works of Alvin Ailey this season, and they were brilliant.

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.

As always, the music and rhythms of Revelations enter the brain at the start of the Ailey season and remain there for weeks. The “Fix Me Jesus” segment transfixed the audience with its deep, gospel chords, and Briana Reed and Amos J. Machanic, Jr. captured that emotional essence. Guillermo Asca, in “I Wanna Be Ready”, moved every muscle individually and used powerful theatricality to success. Of course, “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham” brought the house down.

Kudos to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for another memorable and monumental season. You can catch them on tour by checking

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
in Alvin Ailey's Flowers
Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's
Linda Celeste Sims in Alvin Ailey's Flowers
Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Revelations by Alvin Ailey
Renee Robinson
Photo by Paul Kolnik

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