BWW Reviews: Ailey II Shines in Three World Premieres
Running through April 13th at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, Ailey II's All New program presents the company's outstanding young dancers in three new works by rising choreographers. The program is an awe-inspiring combination of technical precision, subtle emotion, and joyful energy. The clarity of the choreographers' visions and the versatility of the 12 Ailey II dancers allow each piece to be seen as a unique statement with an atmosphere all it's own.
With a rumbling electronic score by Raime and sleek dark costumes, Adam Barruch's Alchemies could seem purely abstract and metallic if not for the velvet finish on the dancer's movements. This extreme sensitivity is the magic that makes it possible to believe that the individuals on stage really can transform their substance at will. It is a pleasure to be drawn into this hazy world where Mr. Barruch has brought his fluent, complex vision to life. The dancers melt and stretch through a mesmerizing structure filled with rippling arms, liquid torsos, and constantly shifting patterns. Formations, limbs, and glances slide over and through one another as the dancers relate to one another as separate portions of the same abstract material.
Cuore Sott'olio ("heart submerged in oil"), choreographed by Katarzyna Skarpetowska, begins with fog and a familiar low electronic hum. As they weave around each other in a misty pool of light, seven dancers exhibit once again their knack for creating and maintaining subtle textures. This softness is not the elegant liquid of Alchemies, but an echoless float. In colorful dresses and pants, the dancers adjust to one another harmoniously while maintaining their individual integrity.
Suddenly, folk music by Vincio Capossela snaps the dancers into a different world where they boldly fly across the stage. In this, and other sections set to Capossela's music, Ms. Skarpetowska gives the dancers the pleasure of dancing as humans, full of intense and quickly changing emotions. Their virtuosity is matched by their enjoyment of fulfilling each movement, sultry, passionate, or quirky as it may be.
The piece continues alternating between buoyant duets and dreamlike floating, where it feels like everything should be more secure than it is. The two qualities couldn't be farther apart, and the dancers' ability to transition quickly between the two makes the contrast engaging and thought provoking.
Jennifer Archibald's Wings is a generous close to the program, and showcases the company's impressive physical and mental endurance. With Michael Wall's score as a perfect companion, the piece is both solemn and uplifting. The dancers quietly fall back in extreme back bends and fly in soaring lifts. Ms. Archibald allows for space in the lines of athletic partnering, revealing the mechanics of complex lifts and descents. This expansive structure is filled with grace and confidence by dancers who seem to dance without effort. Joy and awe continue to permeate the space as Wings builds to a flowing conclusion, the dancers no less committed than they were at the start.
All New is a wonderful chance to see the collaborative nature of dance at its best. The three choreographers provide the dancers, and the audience with the opportunity to become immersed in distinct, intriguing atmospheres. In turn, the dancers give each piece the same respect, sliding easily into different dynamics and approaches without losing a bit of their own identity. They are themselves, dancing, and it is a beautiful thing to see.
Photo: Ailey II in Adam Barruch's Alchemies. Photo by Eduardo Patino