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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Night Creature, Cry, Anointed, Revelations Film, Revelations at 50
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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Night Creature, Cry, Anointed, Revelations Film, Revelations at 50

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
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At City Center
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Alvin Ailey – Founder
Judith Jamison – Artistic Director
Joan H. Weill, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Masazumi Chaya – Associate Artistic Director
Robert Battle – Artistic Director Designate
Sharon Gersten Luckman --Executive Director
Calvin Hunt, Senior Director, Performance and Production
Dacquiri T’Shaun Smittick, Company Manager
Thomas Cott, Director of Marketing
Lynette P. Rizzo, Associate Director of Marketing
Christopher Zunner, Director of Public Relations
Emily Hawkins, Public Relations Manager


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 3, 2010


(See Other Ailey Reviews and Photos)

Night Creature (1974): Choreography by Alvin Ailey, Music by Duke Ellington ("Night Creature"), Costumes by Jane Greenwood, Costumes recreated by Barbara Forbes, Lighting by Chenault Spence, Performed by Renee Robinson, Vernard J. Gilmore, and the Company.

In blue-silver costumes, with elegant, sweeping arms, under a star-lit sky (thanks to Chenault Spence), the Company was incandescent and transporting. I wondered why I hadn’t seen this work since 2006. It’s an homage to Ellington's jazz and is evocative of human fireflies, spinning, flying, and buzzing about, in rapid, rambunctious rhythms. Renee Robinson and Vernard Gilmore were astounding, featured in Movements 1 and 3, and exuded muscularity and magnetic force. The middle Movement 2 introduced thirteen more dancers front stage, and when they came together with arms up-stretched they were evocative of the opening image of Revelations, tonight’s closing work. This first review of the season should note, early on, that the Ailey Company somehow manages to thrive and perfect itself, each and every year. I always think to my self, “I’ve never seen them looking better”, as each dancer grabs the eye.


Cry (1971) For all black women everywhere, especially our mothers: Choreography by Alvin Ailey, Music by Alice Coltrane, Laura Nyro, and Chuck Griffin, Costume by A. Christina Giannini, Lighting by Chenault Spence, Performed by Linda Celeste Sims, Constance Stamatiou, Briana Reed.

As part of a celebratory Season, with Revelations turning 50 years old and Judith Jamison handing the Company’s leadership over to Robert Battle toward the end of 2011,
Ms. Jamison chose to feature three different women in Ailey’s 1971 Cry, which Ms. Jamison, herself, had originally danced. Linda Celeste Sims, Constance Stamatiou, and Briana Reed took the three segments, scored to Coltrane, Nyro, and Griffin, and tore up stage space. Their iconic long, white, ruffled dresses looked stunning in triple imagery, as each woman evoked differing moods and motifs, of grief, exhaustion, desire, hope, despair, and joy. The dress takes on added dimensions, depending on the drama of the moment. Mr. Ailey showed unusual depth of compassion as he worked this piece through its shifting emotions.


Anointed (2010): Choreography by Christopher L. Huggins, Assts. to the Choreographer: Sean Carmon, Levi Marsman, Makeda Crayton, Music by Moby and Sean Clements, Costumes by Christopher L. Huggins, Costume Consultant: Jon Taylor, Lighting by Al Crawford, Performed by Linda Celeste Sims, Jamar Roberts, and the Company.

Christopher Huggins’ newly created work honors the legacy of Judith Jamison, now in her final Season as Artistic Director, as she hands over her desk to Robert Battle in 2011. Designed in three segments, to a dynamic, glorious score by Moby and Sean Clements, “Passing” (scored to “Grace”) brings out Linda Celeste Sims, as a young Judith Jamison, and Jamar Roberts, as her mentor Alvin Ailey. Their dance is muscular and driven, with Mr. Roberts seeming to teach Ms. Celeste Sims his style and method. It’s a vision of pure athleticism. “Sally Forth” (scored to “Blessed Love”) features Ms. Sims with four additional women, Ghrai DeVore, Rosalyn Deshauteurs, Demetia Hopkins, and Constance Stamatiou. Ms. Sims seems to now take on the role of mentor, as she works with her team, her “pillars” of women, in the pulsating Ailey technique and genre. “52 and Counting” (scored to “God Moving Over the Face of the Waters”) is meant, according to Press Notes, to celebrate “the Company’s limitless future…”

Mr. Huggins’ raw red and purplish pink costumes are striking and bright in Al Crawford’s contrasting lighting, and the choreography builds to a frenzied finale, with even possibly a Robert Battle figure in the mix. The motion is fluid, but theatrical, and the entire effect is enthralling. Kudos to Mr. Huggins, and kudos to Ms. Sims and Mr. Roberts, who personified this Company’s unique history so compellingly.


Celebrating “Revelations” at 50 Film Produced and Directed by Judy Kinberg, Director of Photography: Tom Hurwitz, Animation Designer: Todd Ruff, Edited by Andrew Morreale. This archive-based documentary film was an excellent introduction to the Company for the younger members of the audience and a warm reminder to the more seasoned members of the audience of the astounding talent and force of Alvin Ailey, Founder and Artistic Director, who had long ago handed over his legacy to Ms. Jamison. This film should be seen regularly through Seasons to come, rightly just before Revelations.


Revelations (1960): Choreography by Alvin Ailey, Music, Traditional, Chorus Personnel Manager: Nedra Olds-Neal, Musicians: Lawrence Wolf - piano, Paul Adamy – bass, Gary Fritz – percussion, Buddy Williams – drums, Décor and costumes by Ves Harper, Costumes for "Rocka My Soul" redesigned by Barbara Forbes, Lighting by Nicola Cernovitch, Conducted by Judith Jamison, Performed by the Company, Ailey II, and Students of the Ailey School, Vocal Soloists: Marion Moore, M. Roger Holland II, Kenny Brawner, Ella Mitchell, and Robert Mack.

Tonight’s 50-person celebration of Revelations at 50 years old, was a great idea for the moment, but not one I’d need to re-experience. The sheer volume of numbers, such as three men performing “I Wanna Be Ready” (Amos J. Mechanic, Jr., Antonio Douthit, and Glenn Allen Sims), children of the Ailey School participating in “Wade in the Water”, older students participating in “Rocka My Soul”, including filling the aisles, and the staging of a live chorus and several vocal soloists, seemed to diffuse the passion. Revelations is one of the most passionate dances I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen it dozens of times), with the full gamut of human emotion and human condition, choreographed to traditional gospel music. Tonight’s full presentation was more like a show, not an inspirational experience.

However, with Judith Jamison conducting the chorus and musicians, then joining the “Rocka My Soul” encore in her own improvisational dance, the one-time show was worth the difference. Ella Mitchell, one of my longtime folk music heroes, whose records I used to play in my pre-school classrooms, sat onstage tonight and sang segments of “Wade in the Water”, “The Day Is Past and Gone”, “You May Run On”, and “Rocka My Soul”, all joined by Kenny Brawner. Ms. Mitchell brought down the house, with the Company laughing along, as they danced, as she infused the performance with wildly charged vocal ornamentations. Other solo vocalists were persuasively attuned to the melody and dance tempos, specifically Ms. Moore and Mr. Holland II in “Fix Me, Jesus” and Mr. Mack in “I Wanna Be Ready”. But, somehow, I missed the familiar, high-volume, surround-sound of the original recorded gospels.

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



Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in
Alvin Ailey's "Night Creature"
Courtesy of Andrew Eccles


Clifton Brown and Alicia Graf
in Alvin Ailey's "Night Creature"
Courtesy of Andrew Eccles


Linda Celeste Sims in
Alvin Ailey's "Cry"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik


Constance Stamatiou, Linda Celeste Sims,
and Briana Reed in
Alvin Ailey's "Cry"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in
Christopher L. Huggins' "Anointed"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik


R. Deshauteurs, O. Jackson,
G. DeVore, and_D.Hopkins in
Christopher L. Huggins' "Anointed"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
in Alvin Ailey's "Revelations"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik


Glenn Allen Sims and Linda Celeste Sims
in Alvin Ailey's "Revelations"
Courtesy of Christopher Duggan



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net