The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre just completed a triumphant 5 day, sold out engagement at the Los Angeles Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavillion. They're currently in the midst of their Golden Anniversary Celebration Tour.
What can be said, that hasn't already been said about this great company? There simply aren't enough superalatives. Saturday, March 21, at 2:00 p.m. the company took us through a worldwind 'tour' of excerpts spanning the company's 50 years: Unbelievable! The afternoon started with a darkened, blank stage and a 15 minute film documentary featuring the late great Alvin Ailey, his life, his mentors, his muse - Artistic Director Judith Jamison, and various colleagues. It covered the entire legacy of this man's vision, with a nod to the future: The Ailey building on 55th St. and 9th Ave. in New York. The documentary covered everything that goes on in that building, classes, rehearsals, community outreach. It exists to make dance accessible to everyone, as it fulfills its role as the training ground for the next generation of Ailey dancers. This is a company that's a living breathing entity that respects its Founder and his vision, feeds its tradition, its ranks, and is committed to innovation in dance, training new choreographers, and bringing modern dance to the masses.
The company's ambitious afternoon program consisted of excerpts from Ailey's treasure trove of works - in chronological order. These were: "Good Morning Blues and I Cried from "Blues Suite" (1958), the ensemble lead by Amos J. Machanic, Jr., The Sherzo from "Streams," (1970), beautifully danced by Matthew Rushing and Clifton Brown, "Coral Dances," (1971), with music by Britten's choral dances from 'Gloriana,' performed by Hope Boykin, Rosalyn Deshauteurs, Tina Monica Williams, Courtney Brene Corbin, Olivia Bowman and Roxanne Lyst. "Mary Lou's Mass," (1971) danced by Renee Robinson, "The Lark Ascending" (1972) a well executed duet for Linda Celeste Sims, and Clifton Brown, "Hidden Rites," (1973) 'Of Love' duet with Tina Monica Williams & Vernard J. Gilmore and 'Night Creature' from Movement II of "Ailey Celebrates Ellington," (1974) with, Rosalyn Deshauteurs, Glenn Allen Sims, Roxanne Lyst, Khilea douglass, Olivia Bowman, Rachael McLaren, Courtney Brene Corbin, Yusha-Marie Sorzano, Kirven J. Boyd, Willy Laury, Chris Jackson, Anthony Burrell, Marchus Jarrell Willis and Yannick Lebrun.
After all of these excerpt highlights, came The Solo that made Judith Jamison a dance legend: "Cry" (1971), with Constance Stamatiou. She danced with grace, power and strength. Well done! After intermission (phew
), they brought us to the 80s with "Phases" (1980) 'Flight Time,' with ensemble, "Landscape" (1981) 'Romance' with ensemble, "For 'Bird' -With Love, (from all of us forever touched by his magic)" (1984) - which included 'A Night in Tunisia:' 'Bird, a Man, a Musician,' 'Women Close to Him - 3 Singers and A Pianist,' 'Showgirls,' and 'The Progenitor, The Man Who Came Before, A Club Manager,' all danced by ensemble and soloists already noted. "Caverna Magica" (1986) a beautiful Latin solo was well executed by Clifton Brown who IMO, is the leading male dancer in this company - what strength and authority he has! "Opus McShann" (1988), 'Jumping the Blues' with ensemble rounded out the second segment before the final intermission.
Ailey's masterpiece, "Revelations" (1960) served as the only fitting 'bookend' to this marathon tribute, with "Blues Suite" (1958) which started the matinee. Set to the music of African-American Spirituals, all three segments 'Pilgrim of Sorrow,' 'Take Me To The Water' and 'Move, Members, Move,' were performed by the ensemble as if possessed by Ailey's spirit. Everytime I see them perform this signature work it brings tears to my eyes. This finale brought the sold out house to it's feet, clapping along with the dancers - before the performance was over! The ensemble was moved to encore the finale, "Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham," again: They are awesome! The standing ovation seemed endless; the audience didn't let them leave until the house lights finally came up
. Congratulations AA Dance Co. on your Golden Anniversary, may you continue forever!