Sunday, December 20, 2009

An Afternoon of Dance

Yesterday my girls and I went into New York City for an afternoon performance by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the New York City Center. What a treat! There was a feast for the eyes, even before the show started. Look at the fabulous architecture surrounding the stage!

Then the dancing started. If you've never seen the troupe dance before, let me preface it by saying that their repetoire includes some of the most athletic choreography you've ever seen. You can get a sense of this just by looking at the cover of the playbill -- that's a photograph (taken by Andrew Eccles) of Jamar Roberts, one of the men in the company.

Our program for the afternoon was a retrospective of some of the favorite dances performed during the last 20 years, the time of Judith Jamison's tenure as the director of the company. The diversity of the dances made the performance very exciting and made you marvel at the breadth of skill these dancers have. In an excerpt of "North Star" (from 1978), for example, a quartet of dancers dressed in dark blue danced in a close group, weaving in and out of one another. At times, they created an undulating line, perfectly mimicking the motion of the sea and waves. The lights on stage were dark and spotlights were more muted. This number was in stark contrast to the lively large group dance excerpt of "The Winter in Lisbon" in which the performers danced the salsa and other Latin inspired styles to the music of Dizzy Gillespie. Their costumes were flamboyant and the entire stage was alight.

Other favorites of the show included "Following the Subtle Current Upstream" (2000), in which Matthew Rushing performed with flexibility, precision, and incredibly restrained power, to gong and bell music; "Solo" (1997) in which each member of a trio of dancers took turns on stage in a dance that somehow included shrugs and bounces into a masterful, celebratory piece; and "Love Stories" a large group retrospective (it seemed) of dance styles that have more recently evolved, such as hip hop. What amazing diversity in dances!

Bottom line is -- if you get a chance to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, GO, GO, GO! They're in New York until January 3rd.


wlstarn said...

Ailey II will be touring the country, and is coming here in the spring. I got to see them on my daughter's 10th birthday (12 years ago), and Revelations is a big favorite here.

norma said...

As someone who has a very rigid body and very little flexibility, I so admire dancers who can leap and twist their bodies. I am always in awe of professional dancers. I'm sure I would love this performance. Thanks for the excellent review.