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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Anointed, Forgotten Time, The Prodigal Prince
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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Anointed, Forgotten Time, The Prodigal Prince

- Onstage with the Dancers

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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
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 21, 2010

(See Other Ailey Reviews and Photos)

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 Olivia Bowman Jackson, Glenn Allen Sims, and the Company.

On second viewing, this became one of the most stunning ballets, exquisite with visions of orange unitards, with the ensemble in grey then pink. Christopher Huggins had a visual concept, as he designed both the dance and the costumes. Glenn Allen Sims and Olivia Bowman Jackson were both in white, moving with inner spirituality to the electronic, ambient score in “Passing”. When Mr. Sims carried her across and around the stage, her arms were out in an elegant stretch. There was a riveting moment when Mr. Sims ended a scene with his back facing the audience, and another in which he and Ms. Bowman faced each other, as the ensemble disappeared. The audience at times was breathless in the midst of such a sumptuous presentation. Al Crawford’s lighting becomes more brilliant in the moment, against the oranges and pinks. This work is an homage to Mr. Ailey, Ms. Jamison, and to the new Company leader, Mr. Battle.

Forgotten Time (1989): Choreography by Judith Jamison, Restaged by Masazumi Chaya, Music by Mystere des Voix Bulgares, Original costumes by Judith Jamison & Ellen Mahlke, Costumes recreated by Judith Jamison, Lighting by Timothy Hunter, Performed by the Company.

I’m always amazed at how a lead dancer appears in two consecutive works, and tonight Glenn Allen Sims reappeared in Judith Jamison’s 1989 Forgotten Time. Jermaine Terry and Mr. Sims, in the Section IV duo, simply glowed in their flesh-colored unitards, their muscularity in mirrored images, leaning on each other in fascinating and shifting athleticism. Forgotten Time, to an exotic African chorus, is an exemplary work that transports the viewer with dreamlike, hypnotic choreography. I think this is one of Ms. Jamison’s finest works, with intensity of visual design. When she evokes the opening scene of Ailey’s Revelations, with multiple dancers huddled en masse, arms up-stretched, the ensemble moves in synchronized slowness. Timothy Hunter’s lighting adds to the mysterious dimension, and the segments of silence, with dancers walking forwards and backwards, draw the viewer in. Kudos to Judith Jamison.

The Prodigal Prince (1968): Choreography, music, and costumes by Geoffrey Holder, Assts. To the choreographer, Masazumi Chaya and Matthew Rushing, Lighting and stage effects by Clifton Taylor, Performed by Samuel Lee Roberts as Hector Hyppolite, Akua Noni Parker as Erzulie Freda Dahomey, Jamar Roberts as Saint John the Baptist, Hope Boykin as The Mambo/Le Serviteur, Michael Francis McBride as Spirit/Pret-Savanne, and the Company as Erzulie’s Retinue and Companions of Pret-Savanne.

The biggest surprise of the evening was Geoffrey Holder’s The Prodigal Prince, an homage to Hector Hyppolite, a Haitian primitive painter, also a high priest in Voudoun. It’s said that the Voudoun Goddess Erzulie and St. John the Baptist appeared to the painter in a dream, and he became obsessed with the gods of Africa, before he met Andre Breton, who bought his paintings and helped him achieve fame. Geoffrey Holder, a choreographer, director, costume designer, dancer, actor, and painter, who is married to Carmen De Lavallade, created the musical backdrop, costumes, and choreography for this expansive ballet.

One immediately senses the presence of spiritual demons and sprites in the African rhythmic drums and ambient vocals. There’s a deep mysterious quality to this ballet, dark and surreal, and the plot is secondary and diffuse, compared to the hypnotic tempos and theatrics. Samuel Lee Roberts, as the painter and priest, in a red, billowy costume, seems overwhelmed in the presence of the spirits. The Goddess Erzulie (Akua Noni Parker) and St. John the Baptist (Jamar Roberts) walk about in slow, deliberate purposefulness. Ms. Parker wears an extra long aqua robe and a high ornamented head piece. Her affect is gripping. Mr. Roberts’ robe is slit on the legs, and he is deep in communing with other-worldly spirits. Hope Boykin, as The Mambo/Le Serviteur, wears what seems to be a crown of peacock feathers, and she carries a white bird, flapping and fluttering, while she catapults about Hyppolite, in frenetic frenzy, as he writhes and spins in demonic absorption. Michael Francis McBride, as Spirit/Pret/Savanne, is one more transporting figure in this folkloric fusion of sets, costumes, drumbeats, and African chants. The Prodigal Prince is a fascinating show, a visual, imaginative feast.

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

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

Linda Celeste Sims and Clifton Brown
in Judith Jamison's "Forgotten Time"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Jamar Roberts and Antonio Douthit
in Judith Jamison's "Forgotten Time"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Kirven James Boyd in
Geoffrey Holder's "The Prodigal Prince"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Briana Reed and Samuel Lee Roberts
in Geoffrey Holder's "The Prodigal Prince"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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