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Ailey II Performance Entertains and Inspires

by Rita Kohn
October 31, 2015
The Palladium
The Center for the Performing Arts
355 City Center Drive
Carmel, IN 46032
317-843-3800
Rita Kohn is a member of the Board of the Dance Critics Association.
Alvin Ailey II showing up anywhere is a major triumph. Coming to The Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana has special resonance. The Center’s president/ceo Tania Castroverde greeted us with the story of her personal transformation when she first experienced an Ailey II program as an undergraduate.

“It was transformative for me,” she said, and alluded to how this encounter had something to do with her own career decisions. This is of consequence because the greater public perception of Carmel, Indiana, has not been [and still is not for many] the place for a diverse audience to feel welcome. And yet, on Oct. 30, 2015, the 1,300-seat Palladium was full and representing an ethnic rainbow of patrons. What does that tell us about the transformative powers of a 30-year-old concept? Ailey II's young dancers representing founder Alvin Ailey’s philosophy: “I believe that the dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered to the people.”

That the dance was inspiring and its delivery, impeccable, made it all the more worthy. It is this unflinching dedication to excellence that marks 65 years of amazing talent on all levels of the Ailey organization the has inspired new generations of presenters to open their stages to the Ailey companies so that new generations of audiences can appreciate how one person’s commitment can make a difference and inspire others.

The program began with the company in constant motion delivering choreographer Amy Hall Garner's "Virtues," to music by Karl Jenkins. Seamlessly combining contemporary modern and jazz movement, explosive energy was tempered with sophistication. This 2012 work took constantly changing tempos as a metaphor for personal aspirations — we want it all. Particularly remarkable was the extension of this statement from the work's initiation to its conclusion as a continuum. Arms, hands, shaping of bodies — awesome!

Robert Battle created "Takademe" (1999) in the tight space of his apartment living room. To our delight the tightness translates well on a huge stage.

Dancer Deirde Rogan embodied Sheila Chandra vocalized score, marrying Indian Kathak rhythms with precision and clarity. Yes, I see what you’re saying is a truism here.

Battle’s "The Hunt" (2001) to Les Tambours du Bronx is a mash up of primalism with urbanism. Thumping rhythm accompanies a physical, emotional workout for six men, here danced by Lloyd A. Boyd III, Nathaniel Hunt, Gabriel Hyman, Jacob Lewis, Jacoby Pruitt amd Terrell Spence.

The program closed with the audience-expected Ailey classic "Revelations." The ambitious work was first performed by a two-year-old Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1960. Drawing upon the modern dance he inherited, the young choreographer drew on his “blood memories” of rural Texas to layer the equally young modern dance movement with blues, spirituals and gospel movement. The message of hope overcoming despair, the depth and humor, the body shapes that still thrill, the relationships showing how indeed “we are more alike than unalike” resonated with The Palladium audience, half of whom have most likely seen this piece at some other time, somewhere else.

The full Ailey II company also included dancers Samantha Barriento, Annellyse Munroe, Courtney Ross, Courtney Celeste Spears and Terri Ayanna Wright.
Ailey II's Deidre Rogan in Robert Battle's 'Takademe.'

Ailey II's Deidre Rogan in Robert Battle's "Takademe."

Photo © & courtesy of Eduardo Patino


Ailey II in Alvin Ailey's 'Revelations.'

Ailey II in Alvin Ailey's "Revelations."

Photo © & courtesy of Pierre Wachholder


Ailey II in Alvin Ailey's 'Revelations.'

Ailey II in Alvin Ailey's "Revelations."

Photo © & courtesy of Eduardo Patino

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