This past Saturday evening, I was fortunate enough to attend a show by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Throngs of dance enthusiasts filed into the NY City Center on 55th St., they hit the lights, and then... Dance. Like you've never seen.
Full disclosure: I went to see "Suite Otis," a tribute to the music of Otis Redding, so I was prepared to watch wall to wall Otis Redding. The first part of the show was just that, and make no mistake: it was a moving tribute that embodied the aching sensuality, elegant style, and unbridled joy in Redding's voice.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Glenn Allen Sims and Linda Celeste Sims in George Faison's Suite Otis. Photo (C) Steve Vaccariello.
After the first intermission, the dancers put on "Uptown," a celebration of the Harlem Renaissance that took you from rip-roaring revelry to stoic cultural revelation quite literally at the snap of a finger. A trio of glittering starlets brought the crowd to its knees with a burlesque number that absolutely sizzled. The Big Apple Dancers showed me that pure elation: thy name is 'jitterbug.' Then, there was an interperative dance to a Langston Hughes poem ("The Weary Blues") by Clifton Brown -- the movements so powerful I'm convinced that they could stop a train in its tracks.
AAADT's Yusha -Marie Sorzano and Linda Celeste Sims in Matthew Rushing's Uptown. Photo by Paul Kolnik
AAADT's Y. Sorzano, A. Machanic, Jr.and L. Sims in Matthew Rushing's Uptown. Photo by Paul Kolnik
The third movement "Love Stories" opened with a stunning solo to Stevie Wonder's "If It's Magic," then exploded into a propulsive assault of hip hop and dance beats. The costumes were drenched with vibrant colors, and the dancers made the stage look like an abstract canvas come to life. This one was pure spectacle.
AAADT's Clifton Brown in Judith Jamison's Love Stories- Photo by Paul Kolnik
AAADT’s D. Smallwood, C. Brown and H. Boykin in Judith Jamison with Robert Battle and Rennie Harris’ Love Stories. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Alvin Ailey's New York season runs through January 3rd, and then they embark on a 20-city US tour from February through June. If you can, go see an Alvin Ailey performance. The power, grace, and composure of these beautiful moving sculptures will astound you. This was artistry at its finest, athleticism, precision, poetry in motion, arms, legs, big air, soaring heights, soft landings, rhythm, music, the works...
AAADT's RachelMcLaren (L), Constance Stamatiou (R). Photos by Andrew Eccles.
AAADT's M. Rushing, C. Stamatiou and C. Brown in Judith Jamison's Hymn. Photo by Andrew Eccles
All photos courtesy of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Visit their site for upcoming shows and more info.