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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: The Groove to Nobody's Business, Go in Grace, Treading, Love Stories
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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: The Groove to Nobody's Business, Go in Grace, Treading, Love Stories

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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
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

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 11, 2008

(See Other Ailey Reviews and Photos)

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at 50: A Golden Anniversary Celebration (2008): Stephen Budlong, Exec. Producer, Prod. and Dir. By Amanda Rogers and Stephen Mann, Edited by Steve Pacarific. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, celebrating its 50th Anniversary, has a film tribute now, and it’s wonderfully detailed with voice-overs from Mr. Ailey’s biographical interviews, decades ago, stills and films of the Company in rehearsal and performance, comments from Judith Jamison, Artistic Director, and a film of Ms. Jamison dancing, when Mr. Ailey was alive and directing his company. Ms. Jamison is seen as an obvious driving force in the continued growth and success of the Company and in the creation of the new Joan Weill Center for Dance. The film tribute includes films of the Opening Ceremonies of the Center and the dance class and dance rehearsal rooms for children, community, and professionals.

The Groove to Nobody’s Business (2007): Choreography by Camille A. Brown, Assistant to the Choreographer: Francine E. Ott & Clarice Young, Music by Ray Charles and Brandon McCune, Costume design by Carolyn Meckha Cherry, Lighting design by Dalila Kee, Scenic design by J. Wiese, Performed by Matthew Rushing, Renee Robinson, Hope Boykin, Olivia Bowman, Kirven J. Boyd, Jamar Roberts, Yusha-Marie Sorzano, Guillermo Asca, Glenn Allen Sims. This dance brings characters together on a subway train with full comedic theatricality, in casual or business street costumes, with sneakers or shoes. The Ailey Company is incredibly versatile, and its members can switch from barefoot African dance to ballet to modern to gymnastics to Broadway styled musicality. In this urban genre, they connect, argue, kiss, disconnect, and resume the patterns again. The fused Ray Charles and Brandon McCune score explodes with zesty rhythms that enhance the dance. The segments are titled, “Lonely Avenue”, “More Time than Anybody”, and “Mind Your Groove”. Wild, pulsating swing morphs into bluesy refrains. At the curtain call, the dancers remained in character.

Treading (1979): Choreography by Elisa Monte, Music by Steve Reich "Eighteen Musicians", Costumes by Marisol, Lighting by Beverly Emmons, Performed by Linda Celeste Sims and Clifton Brown. This is one dance I could see repeatedly, with its gripping imagery on a darkly lit stage. Clifton Brown begins the lean, muscular dance, with Linda Celeste Sims camouflaged in the background. When they slowly come together, the surreal starkness of the Elisa Monte choreography is never softened. Beverly Emmons’ lighting is magical, like a trance, with a warm glow on the long, taut limbs of these dancers. This is truly body as art, almost a live Rorschach, and one can only admire the pure physical tone that allows Ms. Sims and Mr. Brown to create such elegant, gymnastic feats.

Go in Grace (2008): Choreography by Hope Boykin, Asst. to the Choreographer: Samuel Deshauteurs, Music by Sweet Honey in the Rock (, Costume design by Hope Boykin, Lighting design by Al Crawford, Performed by Amos J. Mechanic, Jr., Renee Robinson, Matthew Rushing, Rosalyn Deshauteurs, Antonio Douthit, Kirven J. Boyd. Sweet Honey in the Rock, or “The Community”: Ysaye Maria Barnwell, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Aisha Kahlil, Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson, Shirley Childress Saxton.

This new work by Ailey dancer, Hope Boykin, is performed with a live, a cappella group, Sweet Honey in the Rock, that composed and performs the score. A family’s struggles verbally and visually unfold, with a Father, Mother, Brother, Little Girl, Boyz, and Community (Sweet Honey in the Rock). Not only are the vocalists onstage, but, as non-dancers, they add visual depth to the performance. The vocalists are trained jazz singers and dramatic actors, and one member even uses Sign Language in this event, her specialty. The spirituals and natural percussion add steady rhythm to the solos and harmonized lyrics. In fact, each singer takes a solo, for six different songs. Their involvement with the dancers’ family tale (maturity, illness, love, self-expression) is seen through stage proximity rather than musical acting. The dance cast moves quite comfortably about the stage, within and around the space of six singers.

Love Stories (2004): Choreography Judith Jamison with Robert Battle and Rennie Harris, Music by Stevie Wonder, original Composition Composed and Produced by Darrin Ross, Costumes by Susan Hilferty, Costume Assistant: Maiko Matsushima, Lighting and Visual Design by Al Crawford, Performed by Kirven J. Boyd, Constance Stamatiou, Rachael McLaren, Olivia Bowman, Courtney Brené Corbin, Roxanne Lyst, Vernard J. Gilmore, Amos J. Mechanic, Jr., Willy Laury, Chris Jackson, Marcus Jarrell Willis.

Judith Jamison’s 2004 work, co-designed with Robert Battle and Rennie Harris, is a joy, with Stevie Wonder’s bright, upbeat songs and the ensemble of 11 in shorts, leotards, and loose-fitting jumpsuits. This work tells a story about Ailey’s dream for his Company and its history, spirit, and optimism. Al Crawford’s lighting and visual concept include surreal, flashing lights and fascinating spatial boundaries. The finale has the dancers facing stage rear, perhaps looking into their new home on Ninth Avenue. This work is imbued with devotion, dedication, and destiny.

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

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
in "The Groove To Nobody’s Business"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
in "The Groove To Nobody’s Business"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik


Rosalyn Deshauteurs and Sweet Honey In The Rock
in "Go In Grace"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Amos Machanic, Jr. and Sweet Honey In The Rock
in "Go In Grace"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Clifton Brown
in "Love Stories"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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