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 Post subject: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 2007-8
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 10:23 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: Rugby, UK / Taipei
Ailey UK tour underway

Alvin Ailey's UK tour is now underway with programmes featuring new works and some Ailey classics including "Revelations". The 'Best of Ailey' programme to be seen in most venues also features Maurice Bejart's "Firebird" and Twyla Tharp's wonderfully athletic "The Golden Section" with its great driving score by David Byrne. I remember Rambert dancing this many years ago and it's good to see it back.

The tour dates are as follows:
London, Sadler's Wells: 4 - 15 September (http://www.sadlerswells.com)
Plymouth, Theatre Royal: 18 - 19 September (http://www.theatreroyal.com)
Birmingham, Hippodrome: 21 -22 September (http://www.birminghamhippodrome.com)
Edinburgh, Festival Theatre: 25 - 26 September (http://www.eft.co.uk/)
Newcastle, Theatre Royal: 28 - 29 September (http://www.theatreroyal.co.uk)
Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall: 2 - 3 October (http://www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk/)
Bradford, Alhambra: 5 - 6 October (http://www.bradford-theatres.co.uk/alhambra_2.asp)
Salford, Lowry: 9 - 10 October (http://www.thelowry.com/)

Full deatails of the programmes and a host of other features including a tour diary by dancer Matthew Rushing, video clips and even the chance to win a return flight to New York and other goodies can be found at the Dance Consortium's website (they are the tour promoters) at http://www.worldwidedanceuk.com/content.asp?CategoryID=1536


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 Post subject: ALVIN AILEY DANCE AMERICAN DANCE THEATRE 5 OCTOBER 2007
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 7:31 am 
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Location: London/Chicago
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
Wednesday 5 September 2007 7:30PM Sadler’s Wells, London

The Groove To Nobody’s Business
With Ray Charles music as the score, Matthew Rushing’s solo introduces this work by emerging choreographer Camile A. Brown. It is a mix of Africanist hip hop-ish gyrations and polyrhythms with the dexterity of contemporary and ballet influences. The movement language amalgamates into wonderful crisp and quirky dynamics. The action occurs in front of a painted cyc of city buildings, sky scrapers bent in a curve with a subway bench centre stage. Everyone enters in the next section seemingly on their way to the underground. The characters are more edgy and enter with a stylised walk bent at the hip. Each is a character one might see riding pubic transport; a business man, nice girl with a purse, a young couple, sassy girl, young male teen stand out amongst the crowd. Rushing seems the only one wearing his troubles on his sleeve as his attempts to communicate to other characters is ignored or met with castigation. As the cyc rolls upwards to reveal an underground subway platform our characters are now waiting for the train. As the action progresses, cascading layers of gesticulation for arms and legs while seated and moving around the bench provide the movement landscape upon which an assortment of relationships between our characters occurs. In the third section with Ray Charles’ singing tempering the sound, there are arguments between our lovers and feigned disgust from our businessman who uses his newspaper to illustrate frustration as well as protection against movement conversations between the characters while everyone waits for the train. Still in character, the bows had as much parody as the dance itself. A bit of comedy and amusing to watch this dance ended too abruptly leaving one to wonder what all the wrangling was about.

Portrait of Billie
This solo choreographed by John Butler and performed by Alicia J. Graf relates the elegance and pathos of famed blues singer Billie Holiday. The portrait in movement begins with Graf being the beautiful and gifted woman that Holiday was. Graf glides about the stage with lithe back and head posed with every glance. A man, purportedly the lover danced by Jamar Roberts, tempts the woman and the relationship created leads from passion to forsakenness, dissatisfaction, and rejection. This disillusionment for Graf’s character leads to drugs and public indignation. Graf brings her astounding beauty and elegance to the role and adds posed dignity when Roberts enters as the lover. Graf evocation is high on grace but her portrayal of anguish is thin; not as angular or dissonant enough.

The Road of the Phoebe Snow
Choreographed by Talley Beatty in 1959 and danced by the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn this ballet has lost none of its ability to mirror reality. Phoebe Snow was a fictional character created by Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad (DLW) as an advertising mascot. Phoebe Snow, a young New York socialite who always wore white frequently rode the DLW because this company used anthracite, a clean burning coal that left passengers soot free. The dance as a metaphor of this reality proposes the story of young folk who might have lived along the road of the Erie Lackawanna Limited train rechristened The Phoebe Snow in 1963 which travelled between Hoboken, New Jersey, and Buffalo, New York. We begin with the tragic death on the tracks of a young girl then flashing lights take us back to how the tragedy happened. A group of teens who taut each other as much as they are wary of their situation is portrayed in ensemble dancing which leads to a brutal rape and a glorious love duet. Jealousy amongst the members leads to the lovers being split, the boy beat up and the girl raped; the shame the incentive for the young girl’s suicide on the train tracks. The story is brilliantly clear, danced exceptionally and vivid due to the exquisite dancing of the company lead by Linda Celeste Sims, Clifton Brown, Briana Reed, and Glenn Allen Sims.

The Winter In Lisbon
This work choreographed by Billy Wilson set to the music of Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Fishman is sumptuous. The movement echoes this lush ness in its cool colours of aqua and purples as its amalgamation of ballet and jazz movement shape the scheme and timbre of this work. Renee Robinson and Glenn Allen Sims epitomise Wilson’s style as they perform the duet Lisbon putting the “A” in attitude as well as “Z” in what it means to dance jazz. Gillespie is known for bringing Latin and African elements into Jazz especially salsa and adding his contribution to the evolution of Afro-Cuban jazz. Gillespie’s composition Manteca, is used by Wilson for his final movement and the dancers’ high stepping balletic legs meet voluptuous hip swings and salsa steps. Winter In Lisbon is sophisticated carnivalesque inviting the audience to join in the festivities; if not physically, viscerally.

_________________
THEA NERISSA BARNES


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 4:29 am 
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Location: London
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London
Tuesday 4 & Thursday 6 September 2007



It is always a pleasure to see the Alvin Ailey Company and, on this occasion, Sadler’s Wells has ensured that the group brings three different programmes and stays for two weeks in their venue. The audiences response has been rapturous and, watching the company on opening night, there was little doubt as to the reason for that… The dancers seem to keep getting better and better every time they come and, bringing a whole evening of Alvin Ailey’s works made the dancers feel so at ease in their founder’s style that, by the time they got to perform “Revelations” they seemed to have been born to dance that work.

The first programme opened with Ailey’s “Night Creature”. Being the first piece on opening night, the work failed to engage as much as it should have done, though the dancers, especially Renee Robinson, had the feeling and edge for it. “Pas de Duke” followed and Linda Celeste Sims was simply glorious to look at. She had the technique, the drive and the sharp rhythmic response needed in her variations. Mathew Rushing, however, failed to live up to Baryshnikov’s role (who would?). Though his technique was fine, he failed to capture that Baryshnikov flair for sheer joy and excitement.

“The River” was the second part of the programme and it featured some extraordinary dancing, as well as being the dance work that showed its age the most. The different sections represented various phases and stages of a river flowing and, though some of the choreography managed to convey that vividly, there were parts that were a bit less audacious in their choreographic themes. Having said that, Alicia J. Graf in the Vortex section and Renee Robinson and Clifton Brown in the Twin Cities sections were simply inspiring in their sense of breathing, passion and transcendence of their interpretations.

I don’t think there is much one can say about “Revelations” that has not been said before. If only that the company danced it as I had not seen it danced for a few years. This might be due to the fact that the whole programme had slowly made the dancers settle into their style and by the time they reached the end, they simply went for it with total passion and abandonment. The performance was simply outstanding. The whole company looked wonderful and the individual and group performances showed an understanding and a need to communicate their choreographer’s ideas and intentions that can only move the audience and make us understand that there are works of art that can transcend time…

The third programme opened with “Firebird” by Maurice Béjart. I had not seen this work for over 20 years, when Victor Ullate staged it for the then newly born Spanish national company. Though Béjart has never been a favourite choreographer of mine, one has to admire his convictions and the theatrical flair of some of his works. Clifton Brown was a good Firebird fuelling revolutionary ideals amongst the crowd. The group that takes up his creed were also remarkable and, it has to be said, Béjart has always made very technically demanding choreography for most of his dancers, so it was a good performance, though I thought the dancers needed to feel more comfortable in the steps made up by the choreographer.

The second piece was a much more enjoyable work, as it is not so easy to see Tharp’s works so well danced and with so much energy. “The Golden Section” made the company glow and succeed through the sheer athletic moves that Tharp combined, in her usual style, with that wonderful tongue in cheek tone that characterises her work. The apparent chaos that always dominates her work gave the dancers the possibility to thrive through the complex combinations of trios, solos, groups… The dancers really showed off in Tharp’s work and what a pleasure it is to revisit this wonderful choreographer’s work and see how enjoyable and daring her choreographies are.

The evening closed again with “Revelations” and, though I thought the cast on opening night was simply magnificent, the company put on a second cast. Once again, the evening ended on a high with audiences cheering and giving these most wonderful dancers their appreciation for their passion, sincerity and power to communicate beyond the stage up to the last row of the amphitheatre… a rare achievement nowadays!!


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 6:03 am 
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Location: Rugby, UK / Taipei
‘Best of Ailey’ - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Hippodrome Theatre, Birmingham; September 21, 2007.


That a ‘Best of Ailey’ programme contains three works all over twenty years old probably says a great deal about what the company has, or rather has not, been doing in the meantime. Perhaps more surprisingly, two of the works were originally made for other companies, with only Revelations, the Ailey company’s signature work being made by the man himself.

Highlight of the evening was undoubtedly Twyla Tharp’s “The Golden Section”, which gave the Ailey dancers full rein to show off their capacity for devilishly fast athletic movement including some amazing leaps and turns. Set to David Byrne’s driving rock score, the piece was originally the finale to “The Catherine Wheel”, Tharp’s full evening work about a rather dysfunctional family from 1981; a fact the theatre programme rather oddly ignored. It is typically Tharp, full of her loose-limbed movement as it draws on ballet, jazz, gymnastics, boxing and goodness knows what else. You never know quite what is going to happen next as dancers suddenly change direction or enter and exit from unexpected places. In Tharp’s original the work reflects the melodrama that goes before it. Here though it gets the full Ailey treatment. It’s danced very much for fun, the dancers playing to the audience at every opportunity. It’s a very different interpretation from the original but it does work, was supremely well danced by all concerned and is a welcome addition to the company’s repertory.

The evening was opened by Maurice Béjart’s “Firebird”. Although the ballet has lost its political significance, having been inspired by idealism and revolution of events in France in 1968, it continues to work well as a piece of dance. The main group of dancers, dressed in blue grey tunics and trousers gave an excellent impression of strength as they fought some invisible enemy. These fighters are supposed to draw renewed power from the Firebird but here it was sometimes as if it was the bird that needed some help, Clifton Brown perhaps erring a little too much on beauty rather than power.

While all three works on the programme are from the past and very much of their time and place, the Béjart and Tharp continue to work well today. I am not so sure about “Revelations”, which concluded the evening. Ailey regarded the cultural heritage of the African-American as one of America’s richest cultural treasures, and the work is a tribute to that heritage. Danced to a combination of spirituals, gospel songs and holy blues, the work is a one-off and it is special. Audiences love it and it does say a great deal about the company, who dance it well and with plenty of gusto. But it is also a work that seems rather stuck in the past and I can’t help feeling that certain parts of it in particular do nothing but perpetuate some rather outdated stereotypes.

Looking at the works danced elsewhere on the UK tour, one cannot help be struck by the fact that all bar one are at least 15 years old. Ailey’s heritage should not and must not be forgotten, but new works are the lifeblood of any company. It was good to see them bringing in dances by other choreographers, but where are the new in-house pieces?

One excellent piece of news from the two night stay in Birmingham was that both performances were sold out. For many years the city was something of a desert for modern/contemporary dance. The management at the Hippodrome and the Dance Consortium deserve much credit for changing that and proving there is an audience for it after all.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater continues on tour to Edinburgh** (25-26 September), Newcastle* (28-29 September), Nottingham** (2-3 October), Bradford* (5-6 October) and Salford* (9-10 October).
* Best of Ailey programme
** Homage to Ailey programme (Night Creature, Pas de Duke, The River, Revelations)


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 4:54 am 
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Location: Birmingham Uni / UWM Milwaukee
I went to the 22nd September performance at the Birmigham Hippodrome, it was my first experience of AAADT. Here are my very brief thoughts:

Firebird - not a spectacular opener but still a very pretty piece of dance with some nice patterns, with a wonderful climax at the end, with all the dancers joining together to create a giant phoenix in flight.

The Golden Section - My favourite piece of the evening, Tharp's daring, fast paced choreography gives the dancers plenty of opportunities to show off their athleticism, with several risky leaps and lifts scattered into what is essentially a fun piece, and it's obvious that the dancers were enjoying performing it. One of the most enjoyable pieces i've seen in a long time

Revelations - I'd heard a lot about this piece before seeing it, so perhaps my expectations were just too high, because even though I thought it was a wonderful piece, it didn't blow me away, so to speak. the vast contrast in the music led to the same for the movement, some sections being happy and joyful, others sad and dark. My personal favourite was the final part, danced by the full company, and was full of humour, happiness, and was generally a feel-good finale.

Overall, AAADT was definitely a company that was worth the wait to see!


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 9:08 am 
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From Karen Campbell in the Boston Globe:
Quote:
Alvin Ailey troupe soars in ‘Firebird’
The ever-popular Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater opened its annual Celebrity Series visit with three Boston premieres, including the rare opportunity to see a seminal work of the legendary French choreographer Maurice Béjart, his 1970 “Firebird.” Ailey is the first American company to stage this ballet by the onetime king of the European avant-garde, who died last November at the age of 80.
....
Brown and Linda Celeste Sims gave a mesmerizing performance of “Unfold,” an unsettling duet from 2005 by Robert Battle....
The most recent work was by the young up-and-comer Camille Brown, a former student of the Ailey School. Called “The Groove to Nobody’s Business”....

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:09 am 
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From Marcia Siegel in the Boston Phoenix:
Quote:
Trailing Ailey - The Groove at the Wang
The newest work on the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s program at the Wang Theater last Thursday ... The Groove to Nobody’s Business (2007), looked back half a century, to the company’s earliest success. Blues Suite, which premiered on Alvin Ailey’s first concert, in 1958, not only established the charismatic Ailey as a formidable choreographer but unwrapped a cluster of character types that have influenced the popular stage to this day.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 2:13 pm 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
From the San Jose Mercury News. The company will be in California on tour.

Quote:
Immortality through dance
By Andrew Gilbert
for the Mercury News
Article Launched: 02/28/2008 01:41:46 AM PST



Almost two decades after Alvin Ailey's death, the dance company he lifted to international prominence is still imbued with his spirit.

The brilliant choreographer had an unerring sense when it came to selecting dancers, as well for identifying just the right people to tend his legacy. And no one has done more to pass on the founder's vision to the company's current crop of athletic young artists than Masazumi Chaya, who is celebrating his 35th year in the Ailey fold.

"Chaya knows everything about the company and everything about me," Ailey says in an interview that's included in a company-produced video honoring its star dancer-turned-associate director (go to www.youtube.com and type "chaya" and "ailey" in the search form to find the video).


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 10:40 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Judith Jamison will retire as Ailey Artistic Director in 2011. An AP report from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Seattle P-I


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:51 pm 
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I guess we should give her props for planning ahead. Hopefully this will give her adequate time to train a successor.

I have always been impressed by the somewhat seamless transition AADT had when Jamison took over. They should be a model to other companies.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 4:29 pm 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
A review from Rachel Howard form the SF Chronicle.

Quote:
Review: Alvin Ailey grooves and moves
Rachel Howard, Chronicle Dance Correspondent

Friday, March 7, 2008

Alvin Ailey's "Revelations" is a dance everyone should see at least once; the real miracle is that it's stirring no matter how many times you see it. Here in the Bay Area, we've had the chance to see it again and again, thanks to Cal Performance's annual presentation of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater -"Revelations" closes almost every Ailey program.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 1:16 pm 
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Proff that dancers eat from the SF Chronicle.

Quote:
Leah Garchik

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The shopping started March 5 for Saturday's back-of-Zellerbach barbecue, a joint project of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater troupe and Cal Performances, which brings the dancers here. The tradition started 20 years ago, said Ailey General Manager Calvin Hunt, with one barbecue on one grill between performances. Dance company members and crew cook the ribs, chicken and this year's surprise, a whole pig. The side dishes (potato salad, coleslaw, corn bread, banana pudding, watermelon salad) that need cooking are done by members of the Cal Performances community.



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