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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Alvin Ailey Dance Theater
Performance Reviews

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Episodes, Treading, Urban Folk Dance, Revelations

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 9, 2005

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

About the Author:

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Episodes, Treading, Urban Folk Dance, Revelations

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Alvin Ailey - Founder
Judith Jamison - Artistic Director
Joan H. Weill, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Masazumi Chaya - Associate Artistic Director
Sharon Gersten Luckman — Executive Director
Calvin Hunt, General Manager/Director of Production
Amadea Edwards Andino, Manager of Administration
Dacquiri T'Shaun Smittick, Company Manager
Jodi Pam Krizer, Director, Marketing and Public Relations
Lynette Rizzo, Associate Director of Marketing
Tyrha M. Lindsey - Associate Director of Public Relations
Helene Davis - Press

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 9, 2005

(See Other Ailey Reviews and Photos)
(See Ailey School Groundbreaking Ceremony)
(See Ailey Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony)
(See Tour of New Joan Weill Center for Dance)
(See Dwana Adiaha Smallwood Interview)
(See Ailey Extension Program for the Community)

Episodes (1989): (See December 21, 2004 Review). Choreography by Ulysses Dove, Restaged by Masazumi Chaya, Original Music by Robert Ruggieri, Costumes by Jorge Gallardo, Lighting Design by John B. Reade, Performed by Linda Celeste Sims, Dwana Adiaha Smallwood, Wendy White Sasser, Rosalyn Deshauteurs, Matthew Rushing, Clifton Brown, Amos J. Mechanic, Jr., Guillermo Asca, Vernard J. Gilmore.

Like an electrified train, the Ailey dancers pounced from the curtains into the spotlights, and Ulysses Dove's powerful choreography once again rose to the occasion, showcasing the Ailey Company's consistent strength and appeal. That appeal is its potent presence, in atonal, melodic, gospel, classical, swing, African, folk, ballad, and even more eclectic scores. Ms. Sims, Ms. Smallwood, Ms. Sasser, Ms. Deshauteurs, Mr. Rushing, Mr. Brown, Mr. Mechanic, Jr., Mr. Asca, and Mr. Gilmore were all dynamic, dramatic, driven, and daring in their theatrical body language of approach and rejection, independence and desire, in solos, duos, and ensembles. This is a work I could see again and again, with something new to recall and absorb.

Treading (1979): (See December 12, 2003 Review). Choreography by Elisa Monte, Music by Steve Reich "Eighteen Musicians", Costumes by Marisol, Lighting by Beverly Emmons, Performed by Tina Monica Williams and Glen Allen Sims. This work, as well, is mesmerizing and addictive, in its visual refinement, as well as its pulsating score. Reich's repetitive chords enhance the excitement in Ms. Williams and Mr. Sims' kaleidoscopic gyrations. Warm, incandescent lights shone brilliantly in Ms. Emmons' design, as striped shapes on unitards, two bodies in crustacean formations, crawled and crouched over and through and under each other. Ms. Monte conceived a brilliant tour de force.

Urban Folk Dance (1990, New Production): Choreography by Ulysses Dove, Restaged by Masazumi Chaya, Music by Michael Torke, Scenic and Costume design by Andrew Jackness, Lighting design by Mark Stanley, Original assistant to Mr. Dove, Dawn Wood, Performed by Dwana Adiaha Smallwood, Linda Celeste-Sims, Matthew Rushing, Clifton Brown. This contemporary work with two couple in two spaces on four chairs, sharing or switching moods, sometimes almost hidden, sometimes acting, sometimes reacting, was a new work of interest in tried and true repertoire. This was not as powerful as Mr. Dove's opening production, which was a more abstract and alarming piece. This was, rather, more introspective and esoteric. I did not find it as sensational, but it was thought-provoking and theatrical.

Revelations 1960): (See December 21, 2004 Review). Choreography by Alvin Ailey, Music, Traditional, Décor and Costumes by Ves Harper, Costumes for "Rocka My Soul" Redesigned by Barbara Forbes, Lighting by Nicola Cernovitch, Performed by the Company. It would not be December, if I were not humming "Wade in the Water", "I Wanna Be Ready", "Sinner Man", or "Rocka My Soul…". I have seen this work dozens of times over the years, and I have absorbed the music, the colors, the movement, the imagery, and the emotions that are requisite to the time-honored work. Mr. Ailey was a master at finding simplicity of motion, set, and costume, and incorporating it all into an extravaganza so much more effective than most Broadway glitz, elsewhere in the City.

Revelations could be the kernel of an entire Broadway show, but that would be a travesty, as Revelations belongs to the Ailey Company, in all its splendor. If I saw this work once each week, it would not be too often. Wendy White Sasser and Jamar Roberts, in "Fix Me, Jesus", were poignant and possessed, and Matthew Rushing, in "I Wanna Be Ready", exuded muscularity and passion. Kudos to the Ailey Dance Theater.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Linda Celeste Sims and Matthew Rushing in Ulysses Dove's Episodes
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Renee Robinson in Alvin Ailey's Revelations
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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