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Robert Abrams
Alvin Ailey Dance Theater
Performance Reviews
The Joyce Theater
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Ailey II at the Joyce

by Robert Abrams
April 29, 2006
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011

Featured Dance Company:

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
405 West 55th Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 405-9000

Ailey II
405 West 55th Street
New York, NY 10019

Sylvia Waters, Artistic Director
Troy Powell, Associate Artistic Director
The main Ailey company is known for its strength. Ailey II, presenting a smorgasbord of performances, showed that they have plenty of talent to go around too.

This review will present snapshots of what I liked about the various performances.

The afternoon started off with two excerpts from Blues Suite. Mean Ol' Frisco, danced by James A. Pierce III, Tyrell V. Rolle, Gregory Sinacori, Malik LeNost and Ricardo Zayas, made use of the full stage. The dancers' movements were very crisp and energetic. They showed that you can tie a bandana in time to the music.

House of the Rising Sun provided a contrast with slow and languid movement. Alicia Lundgren, Anica C. Scott-Garrell and Alia Crutcher showed anguish, reaching up. It wasn't a literal portrayal of the song, but the abstract dance expressed the mood of the song very well. The dancers held tight body postures, and then released.

The Lark Ascending featured the bare feet of Julie Fiorenza, but also used ballet styling. Ms. Fiorenza was lithe and flowing.

Hidden Rites - Spirits Descending featured Marcus Willis in a headdress. This African inspired dance was notable for its strong postures.

I liked most of what Ailey II presented, but when it came to Isba I had questions (dancers: Ricardo Zayas, Anica C. Scott-Garrell, Malik LeNost). For instance, of the three dancers, one man wears a skirt, the woman wears a dress and the other man is in long underwear. The work was pretty to watch, and the dancers were very flexible, but the reasons for the costume choices were not clear.

Alicia Lundgren and Tyrell V. Rolle and company performed Escapades. Mr. Rolle created a stable platform for partnering Ms. Lundgren. They looked good together. The choreography for the company (four men and four women, later ten dancers) featured nice offsets and cannon passages. The dancers had energy and extension.

Act II consisted of Bitter Suite danced by Constance Stamatiou, James A. Pierce III, Anica C. Scott-Garrell, Tyrell V. Rolle, Julie Fiorenza, Gregory Sinacori, Alia Crutcher and Malik LeNost. This work can be seen as pure dance overlaid with a loose theme of seduction and pursuit. This dance featured rapid partnering. In a reversal of the usual order of the universe, the women provided stable platforms for their male partners. The dance had a James Bond feel to it. I liked the lifts in cannon and the striking images. For instance, at one point the women were held upside down with their feet pointing up at a 45 degree angle. Later they danced in the dark. The dancers' white shirts practically glowed in the dark. Later the men danced with their loose limbs matching their loose ties (some of which were tied a little too long, but maybe I am being too picky). The work ended with a combination of high and low lifts. A woman gracefully arises, but she won't marry her partner. It just goes to show that sometimes even having all of the talent of an Ailey dancer isn't enough to win over the object of one's desire. The dancing and the creative partnering will win you over though.

Act III consisted of Nahum (The Comforter) danced by The Company. This work did a good job contrasting fast movement with slow movement. Sometimes the dancers were very fast. They flew around the stage, perhaps working out their anger. At other times they were the picture of despair in pajamas, walking with their hands over their heads. Given the intense mood of the dance, I was half expecting them to break into some capoeira.

Here's a wild thought: put Ailey II and DanceBrazil on the same stage and let them go at it in a competitive dance jam.

The Ailey dancers have a lot of talent expressed through challenging and varied choreography, but they don't just want you to admire them from afar. Alvin Ailey once said that "dance comes from the people and should be delivered back to people." If Ailey II inspires you, you should also check out Ailey's many dance classes.
Blues Suite By Alvin Ailey Ailey II company members

Blues Suite
By Alvin Ailey
Ailey II company members

Photo © & courtesy of Eduardo Patino

Bitter Suite By Scott Rink Constance Stamatiou and James A. Pierce III

Bitter Suite
By Scott Rink
Constance Stamatiou and James A. Pierce III

Photo © & courtesy of Eduardo Patino

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