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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Masazumi Chaya – 35 Years, A Tribute
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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Masazumi Chaya – 35 Years, A Tribute

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“Masazumi Chaya – 35 Years, A Tribute”

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 18, 2007

(See Other Ailey Reviews and Photos)

Masazumi Chaya – 35 Years, A tribute in Film (2007): Created by Amanda Rogers, Steven Budlong, Stephen Mann, and Citi Corporate Media Solutions. As a celebration of Masazumi Chaya’s 35 years with the Ailey Company, Judith Jamison, Artistic Director, staged a tribute event tonight at City Center, as part of the season’s highlights. Mr. Chaya re-staged several ballets being showcased this month, including The Road to Phoebe Snow (Talley Beatty) and Flowers (Ailey).
Mr. Chaya was born in Fukuoka, Japan, and joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1972, performing for 15 years. He was then appointed Rehearsal Director, as he had experience as a choreographic assistant to Mr. Ailey and John Butler. In 1991, Mr. Chaya was named Associate Artistic Director, and in 2002 he coordinated the Company’s Christmas tree lighting appearance on NBC. He has staged numerous Ailey ballets for companies around the world, such as Bocca’s Ballet Argentina, Colorado Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet. The film tribute had spoken appearances by Mr. Chaya, as well as some biographical and Company segments. When he actually took the microphone onstage, following a glowing introduction by Ms. Jamison, he was almost speechless. Ms. Jamison spoke of “two lives on the same road”, Alvin Ailey’s from Rogers, Texas, and Masazumi Chaya’s from Japan. She spoke of the mystery and miracle of this close friendship and collaboration.

Episodes (1989): Choreography by Ulysses Dove, Restaged by Masazumi Chaya, Original Music by Robert Ruggieri, Costumes by Jorge Gallardo, Lighting Design by John B. Reade, Performed by Linda Celeste Sims, Briana Reed, , Rosalyn Deshauteurs, Courtney Brené Corbin, Matthew Rushing, Clifton Brown, Amos J. Mechanic, Jr., Guillermo Asca, Vernard J. Gilmore. This propulsive and percussive piece showed the Company at its fullest potential, in a combined score of atonal, melodic, gospel, classical, swing, African, folk, and ballad. The season’s showcased dancers, such as Clifton Brown, Linda Celeste Sims, and Matthew Rushing, plus a supremely talented ensemble, propelled themselves from offstage to onstage in split-second timing. Ulysses Dove knew how to generate excitement and audience engagement, and this piece works to grab the viewer’s full focus.

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 Gwynenn Taylor Jones, Glenn Allen Sims, Chris Jackson, Zack Law Ingram, Willy Laury, Malik Le Nost, Antonio Douthit, Kirven J. Boyd. On second viewing, with a new cast, Flowers was equally, if not more, poignant and thought-provoking. Gwynenn Taylor Jones was the Joplin-like figure, hiding from paparazzi, binging, drugging up, succumbing to violent men, and making the boldest of efforts to survive.

The Joplin, Blind Faith, and Pink Floyd music seemed ever so searing, and Glenn Allen Sims, as the overpowering and adversarial drug dealer, seized the stage and his prey with hormonal persuasion. The surreal ensemble dances added mystical momentum.

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 is no such thing as too many Revelations in any one season. In tonight’s cast, Guillermo Asca repeated his muscular performance in “I Wanna Be Ready”, before Zach Law Ingram, Yannik Lebrun, and Abdur-Rahim Jackson grabbed the wild energy in “Sinner Man”, dashing across the stage and sliding with frenzy.

At the closing curtain, Mr. Chaya stood onstage with the full Company, and the dancers had to physically urge him to move center stage for a solo bow. This was a lovely event.

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

Judith Jamison, Artistic Director,
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Photo by Andrew Eccles.

Masazumi Chaya, Associate Artistic Director,
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Photo by Andrew Eccles.

By Ulysses Dove
Linda Celeste Sims and Matthew Rushing
Photo by Paul Kolnik

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

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