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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Streams, The Evolution of a Secured Feminine, Urban Folk Dance, Another Night, Minus 16
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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Streams, The Evolution of a Secured Feminine, Urban Folk Dance, Another Night, Minus 16

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
At New York City Center

The Company:
Guillermo Asca, Kirven James Boyd, Hope Boykin, Sean A. Carmon
Sarah Daley, Ghrai DeVore, Antonio Douthit, Renaldo Gardner
Vernard J. Gilmore, Alicia Graf Mack, Jacqueline Green
Daniel Harder, Demetia Hopkins, Michael Jackson, Jr., Megan Jakel
Yannick Lebrun, Michael Francis McBride, Rachael McLaren
Aisha Mitchell, Akua Noni Parker, Belen Pereyra, Briana Reed
Jamar Roberts, Samuel Lee Roberts, Renee Robinson**
Kelly Robotham, Matthew Rushing*, Kanji Segawa, Glenn Allen Sims
Linda Celeste Sims, Jermaine Terry, Marcus Jarrell Willis
*Guest, **Retiring

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
Bennett Rink, Executive Director Designate
Calvin Hunt, Senior Director, Performance and Production
Matthew Rushing, Rehearsal Director
Dacquiri T’Shaun Smittick, Company Manager
Christopher Zunner, Director of Public Relations
Emily Hawkins, Public Relations Manager

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 22, 2012

(See Other Ailey Reviews and Photos)

Streams (1970): Choreography by Alvin Ailey, Restaged by Masazumi Chaya, Music by Miloslav Kabelác, Lighting by Chenault Spence, Performed by the Company.

Dancers run to and fro like rippling water, men bare-chested with pale blue leotards, and women in matching unitards, the color of rushing streams in bright sun. Solos, duos, and ensemble configurations are compelling, as the company dances to Miloslav Kabelác’s percussive score, “Eight Inventions”. Alvin Ailey created this dance in 1970, with a sense of voluptuous partnering. Women stand on men’s knees, lean against their torsos, or are carried like newlyweds. The choreography flows with the seamless pulsating rhythms, for rippling and rushing imagery.

The Evolution of a Secured Feminine (2007): Choreography by Camille A. Brown, Assistants to the Choreographer: Jasmine Forest and Francine E. Ott, Music sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter, Nancy Wilson, Lighting by Brenda Gray, Costumes by Carolyn Meckha Cherry, Performed by Rachel McLaren.

This highly witty, entertaining work, by Camille A. Brown, is performed to music by Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter, and Nancy Wilson. Rachel McLaren was tonight’s solo dancer, and she exuded poignancy, dressed in a fedora and retro 40’s pantsuit, sitting on a bistro chair, dramatizing the lyrics. Her suit bares one arm and torso, a half-jacket approach, with her hat in various positions of cool-midnight-in-a-club sexiness. After the previous lyrical work, the audience loved this humorous respite, a perfect interlude. In the Ailey Theater, humor and camp never lower dancers into girlishness. These women are always women.

Urban Folk Dance (1990): Choreography by Ulysses Dove, Assistant to the Choreographer: Dawn Wood, Restaged by Masazumi Chaya, Music by Michael Torke, Costumes and set by Andrew Jackness, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Belen Pereyra, Vernard J. Gilmore, Ghrai DeVore, Glenn Allen Sims.

This contemporary work with two couples in two spaces on four chairs, sharing or switching moods, sometimes almost hidden, sometimes acting, sometimes reacting, was a work about urban relationships. It was not as powerful as Mr. Dove's Episodes, with Ailey dancers pouncing from the curtains into the spotlights. It was, rather, more psychological and interior. The physicality had a storyline, and the audience reacted with glee. Mr. Sims and Mr. Gilmore were reviewed in this piece in previous years, while Ms. Boykin and Ms. Sims added sensational personality. This dance evoked scenic melodrama.

Another Night (2012): Choreography by Kyle Abraham, Assistants to the Choreographer: Rachelle Rafailedes & Chalvar Monteiro, Music: “A Night in Tunisia” by Dizzy Gillespie, Performed by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Costumes by Naoko Nagata, Lighting by Dan Scully, Performed by the Company.

This premiere work, commissioned for the Ailey Theater from Kyle Abraham, left me mentally rewinding Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia” for days. The entire piece exudes jazz, elegance, and an uptown motif. Costumes are deeply colored and silken, and partnering is luscious, lyrical, and lightning quick. One seems to have happened upon a fashionable party of athletic, virtuosic dancers. There was joy, as well as jubilance, in every step and turn of the nine-member ensemble. Especially engaging were Rachel McLaren and Marcus Jarrell Willis. It was astonishing that Ms. McLaren was so energized, after her solo, before the first intermission. Now here she was swinging up a storm. Kelly Robotham, Akua Noni Parker, and Sarah Daley were also exhilarating. I look forward to revisiting Another Night next season.

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 Marcus Jarrell Willis and the Company. /

This huge audience-pleaser, by the Israeli choreographer, Ohad Nazarin, incorporates traditional Israeli songs, like “Hava Nagila”, as well as “Over the Rainbow” and an excerpt from Vivaldi. On first viewing, in another season, I did not appreciate it as much as I did tonight, with the full company in outsized enthusiasm. During the second intermission, Marcus Jarrell Willis arrives onstage to improvise some virtuosic moves, a teaser. Then, the Ailey Theater opens the work in a circle of folding chairs, dressed in tuxedoes and hats. Suits and hats are tossed, the dancers gyrate, shout repetitive lyrics, fall to the floor, sit on chairs again, and generate a spellbinding effect on the audience.

Soon audience members are invited, one by one, by company members, who search the rows for willing partners. The company-audience partnering ensues with disco dance, followed by synchronized mambo, followed by romantic two-step, followed by escorting audience volunteers to stage steps, followed by the company falling to the floor, leaving one sole woman from the audience standing alone. More dervish dance follows, and the audience loved this quasi-reality show. This is a work that grows on the viewer.

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

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in
Kyle Abraham's "Another Night"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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