Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company Celebrates 45th Anniversary Season
The Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company will celebrate its 45th Anniversary with performances of works by Eleo Pomare and company artistic director Enrique Cruz DeJesus, November 18 & 19 at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, Ninth Avenue & 55th Street. Two company premieres will be included in the program: the world premiere of DeJesus' Mending Minds, and the company premiere of Pomare's 1967 Las Desenamoradas, music by John Coltrane.
Dancer/choreographer Ronn Pratt founded Alpha Omega in 1972 for the purpose of expanding opportunities for multi-cultural choreographers and dancers, and is an example of the best of the American melting pot. The company boasts a huge repertory of works by minority dancemakers, including Pomare, who enjoyed a long association with Alpha Omega, director DeJesus, Andy Torres, Angel Garcia, Martial Roumain, Rod Rodgers, George Faison, Fred Benjamin, and many more. The Company's goals and integrity have been lovingly maintained by longtime collaborators DeJesus, Clark and Vanison-Blakely.
The new Mending Minds by DeJesus, set to music by Zoe Keating and Sohn, deals with the commitment for a loved one. The caretaker fully commits to caring for her loved one, even at the expense of her own emotional well-being. Who will care for the caring?
New to the Company's repertory is Eleo Pomare's 1967 Las Desenamoradas, set to music by John Coltrane and based on Lorca's play "House of Bernada Alba." On her return from the burial of her husband, the mother locks her daughters in their house for the traditional five years of mourning. Their exposure to men remains only in their imaginations, except for the youngest daughter, who falls in love and escapes with her older sister's suitor. The mother's destruction of the suitor causes the youngest sister to commit suicide. The other sisters must now stay in mourning for an additional five years.
A highlight of the program will be Pomare's acclaimed Narcissus Rising, the 1968 solo that helped propel Pomare into the forefront of modern dance. Originally danced by the choreographer, Alpha Omega's Donna Clark took over the role of the modern-day leather and cycle rider with great success. Wrote Claudia La Rocco about "the sexually aggressive, militant solo.....it probably seemed inconceivable that a woman could convincingly inhabit the role (but) Donna Clark..made 'Narcissus Rising' her own. Biker chicks rule." (The New York Times, November 2008). Karyn Collins described Clark as "...oiled skin shining against her outfit of studded black leather G-string, vest and boots (Clark) was the 21st century embodiment of the 1970's superchick - all defiant glare and stalking feminist power." (Dance Magazine, October 2001)Also by Pomare is his Radeau (Raft) in which he depicts a stormy sea voyage to safety from strife-torn Haiti. This 1994 dance is one of Pomare's works "...that chronicled the experiences of black Americans - urban, social, political," noted Roslyn Sulcas, reviewing The New York Times (November 2010). "The genius of the work, set to Johnathan Kabak's evocative collage of music by Steve Reich, Echoes of Nature and Samite of Uganda," wrote Jennifer Dunning, "is that its turmoil has no specific reference point. It is an abstract dance, but every move and gesture seethes with the terror and hope of a voyage to a different and perhaps better world." (The New York Times, December 2005)
By Cruz DeJesus is his Evolution, a playful take on the Big Bang Theory where cosmic particles separate and collide to make the beginning of the universe, set to the irresistible rhythms of Tito Puente. As observed by Claudia La Rocco, " 'Evolution' has delicious fun with a mash-up of styles, including Latino, jazz and modern. Mr. DeJesus delights in the earthy, sensual pleasures to be found in such simple things as walking, in all its permutations: struts, saunters, shimmies, slides." (The New York Times, November 2008)
Saturday November 18 at 8 PM; and Sunday November 19 at 3 PM
Ailey Citigroup Theater, 405 West 55 Street (9th Avenue)
Tickets: $25; ($35 for performance and opening night reception following the performance)
Reservations: 1-800-838-3006 or https://alphaomegadance45.brownpapertickets.com
Donna Clark, Associate Director
Dolores Vanison-Blakely, Executive Director Dancers: Sarita Apel, Donna Clark, Tyler Clark, Juan Pablo Alba Dennis, Nicolay Espitia, Kira Ferguson, Leann Marie Gioia, Shauntee Henry, Elise King, Khensani Mathebula, Jinah Parker, Anthony Patterson, Johnathan Rezende, Brayan Valencia, Alice Wu
Photo: Donna Clark in Eleo Pomare's "Narcissus Rising"