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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Streams, Takademe, Home, Minus 16
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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Streams, Takademe, Home, Minus 16

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
At New York City Center

Alvin Ailey – Founder
Judith Jamison – Artistic Director Emerita
Robert Battle – Artistic Director
Masazumi Chaya – Associate Artistic Director
Joan H. Weill, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Sharon Gersten Luckman --Executive Director
Calvin Hunt, Senior Director, Performance and Production
Dacquiri T’Shaun Smittick, Company Manager
Christopher Zunner, Director of Public Relations
Emily Hawkins, Public Relations Manager

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 13, 2011

(See Other Ailey Reviews and Photos)

Streams (1970): Choreography by Alvin Ailey, Restaged by Masazumi Chaya, Music by Miloslav Kabelac, Lighting by Chenault Spence, Performed by the Company. Ailey’s 1970 Streams is scored to wood blocks and percussion from Miloslav Kabelac’s “Eight Inventions”. The lighting, by Chenault Spence, is extraordinary, as solos, duos, trios, and ensembles dance each of the Inventions. There’s much use of wide space, and many choreographic pauses ensue. The “pushing” phrases are contemporary in style, as this work to New Age music adds tension, as well as fascination. Among the dancers, Sarah Daley was expressive in “Recitativo”, and Antonio Douthit was compelling in “Lamentoso”.

Takademe (1999): Choreography by Robert Battle, Music performed by Naren Budhakar, Costumes by Missoni, Costumes recreated by Jon Taylor, Lighting by Burke Wilmore, Performed by Kirven James Boyd. Not intending to minimize Robert Battle’s choreographic repertoire, I found Takademe too campy, too un-nerving, too over-the-top. Standing at a microphone, Naren Budhaker, a vocal performer, makes generic, East Indian, guttural, unpleasant sounds, so annoying I could barely write notes. The dance is like an exorcism, but with sarcastic overtones, and this piece is one I do not wish to revisit. Kirven James Boyd, otherwise a tremendous performer who always impresses, was, here, forced to exhibit nervous jerks, stomach contortions, and flailing limbs, endlessly.

Home (2011): Choreography by Rennie Harris, Asst. Choreographer: Nina Flagg, Music by Dennis Ferrer, Raphael Xavier, Costumes by Jon Taylor, Lighting by Stephen Arnold, Performed by the Company. Home, choreographed last year by Rennie Harris, was worth the whole event. This is a moving, monumental work, and it was led by the mesmerizing Matthew Rushing. Stephen Arnold’s stunning lighting design brings glistening luminosity to the proceedings. The 14 dancers included the crème de la crème, such as Linda Celeste Sims, Glenn Allen Sims, Renee Robinson, and, thankfully, in return, Alicia Graf Mack. Ms. Mack looked thrilled to be back with the Ailey Company, with her balletic styling and gripping presence. But, it’s Mr. Rushing, using his strength to wind and unwind his limbs and torso, while enflaming this ensemble, who drew me in continually. Jon Taylor’s costumes were quintessentially appropriate to show off the “street stuff” of this bunch in wild abandon.

Minus 16 (1999): Choreography by Ohad Naharin, Restaged by Danielle Agami, Music by Various Artists, Costumes by Ohad Naharin, Lighting by Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi), Performed by the Company. Minus 16, a 1999 work by Ohad Naharin, was annoying, in equal measure to Takademe. In black suits and white shirts and stylized bowler hats, the Company begins on chairs in a sweep of circular presentation. One at a time, then in wild fashion, dancers partially undress, toss hats and clothing, gyrate, yell out, all to what’s listed as excerpts from “Mabul”, “Anaphaza”, and more, or so, including what sounded like church madrigals. I was confused as to why this work, in addition to Takademe, would be chosen to make Mr. Battle’s debut season remarkable. The Ailey Company is renowned for its Ailey repertoire, so it would seem Mr. Battle would want to exhibit his prowess and professionalism in that specific genre. This and Takademe were each extraneous.

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

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

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