BWW Review: ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER 2017 Season at New York City Center
With more than two-dozen dynamic works and a series of special programs, each date during the engagement gives the company's fans a chance to see varied works and each season different dancers within the 32-member company are highlighted.
We attended a family matinee and were dazzled by four productions.
The first, The Winter in Lisbon, is a vibrant, party-themed ballet tribute to four decades of music by jazz trumpeter, bandleader and composer Dizzy Gillespie. Choreographed in 1992 by Billy Wilson, the festive ballet was restaged for the 2017 centennial of the jazz legend's birth.
Next was Mass, choreographed by Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle. The visually arresting work features 16 dancers, a score by John Mackey and Battle's signature rapid-fire movement and unexpected imagery.
Third was After the Rain Pas de Deux, an enthralling work choreographed by Christoper Wheeldon in 2005, and originally performed at New York City Ballet's annual New Combinations Evening. The Ailey Company premiered the intimate ballet in 2014. During this performance, it moved like poetry in motion, beautifully articulated by lithe dancers Jacqueline Green and Yannick Lebrun.
Revelations, the quintessential Ailey company production conceived in 1960 by Alvin Ailey himself, rounded out the stellar afternoon performance. This rhapsodic dance rooted in the Southern black church experience never disappoints. We've had the privilege to see the piece several times. However, this was the first time we'd seen Revelations accompanied by a live orchestra and vocalists. And wow, what a treat.
Set to a suite of moving Negro spirituals, the live rendering of the soundtrack renewed Revelations' three riveting acts: Pilgrim of Sorrow, which includes the mournful "Fix Me, Jesus," where Sarah Daley-Perdomo's fragility is anchored by Michael Jackson, Jr.'s strength; Take Me to the Water featuring a quietly pious interpretation of "I Wanna Be Ready" by Clifton Brown; and the rousing closer, Move, Members, Move featuring the electrifying male trio "Sinner Man," this time danced by Collin Heyward, Kanji Segawa and Sean Aaron Carmon, and the company's gospel-fueled, fan-waving crowd favorite, "Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham."
In a Q&A following the performance, Ailey dancer Jacquelin Harris said of Revelations' live score, "It adds an amazing element to the work and it brings something out of the dancers you don't see every day."
As a company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's athleticism and musicality is unparalleled and we look forward to seeing them perform time and time again.