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Amber Henrie
Alvin Ailey Dance Theater
Performance Reviews
Jazz Dance
New York City Center
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New York City
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Creations of Two Masterful Artists, Alvin Ailey and Duke Ellington

by Amber Henrie
December 28, 2006
New York City Center
130 West 56th Street
(Audience Entrance is on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
(Entrance for Studios and Offices is on West 56th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019

Featured Dance Company:

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

Alvin Ailey created fourteen dances to music by Duke Ellington during his career. During the 2006 season at the New York City Center, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) performed two beautiful Ailey/Ellington dances restaged by Associate Artistic Director Masazumi Chaya. The season's new productions of Pas De Duke and The River were indeed masterful.

One can only imagine Mikhail Baryshnikov and Judith Jaminson as the two dancers on stage when Linda Celeste Sims and Matthew Rushing (one of three couples performing the piece) charmed the audience with their performance of Ailey's Pas De Duke. Originally created for "Ailey Celebrates Ellington" in 1976, this number captures how Ailey could highlight personality, style, grace and passion in his choreography. Baryshnikov's signature moves were evident in the male solo. Danced to Ellington's 1957 "Sonnet for Hank Cing," this solo is high energy and full of tricks which Rushing nailed while exuding confidence and charm. Following the male solo, Linda Celeste Sims takes the stage for the female solo to Ellington's 1948 "Unclothed Women." Attitude, pizzazz, and maneuvering complementary to the music's sultry jazzy blues, this solo has it all. Mrs. Sims accentuates this style caressing the floor apposed to the high leaps and stunny tricks of the male solo. Her solo perfectly captures Ellington's soulful jazz and commands full attention.

The River is a legendary collaboration between Ailey and Ellington. Originally choreographed and composed in 1970 for the American Ballet Theatre, The River was Ellington's first symphonic score written specifically for dance. It was later danced by AAADT in 1980. The legendary and highly acclaimed collaboration mirrors together the art forms beautifully.

Ailey combines modern dance, classical ballet and jazz movements in The River to create an allegory between water on its journey to sea and the journey of life. A unique, classy and clever ballet, Ailey once again connects the audience with the dancers and emotions in each of the eight movements.

In "Meander," Courtney Brené Corbin captured the eye with her intense facial expressions in her solo. This section also featured Vernard J. Gilmore and Antonio Deouthit as the three melt from one move to the other. Wendy White Sasser captivated the audience with her solitary solo in the "Lake." Four solos by Zach Law Ingram, Antonio Douthit, Guillermo Asca and Abdur-Rahim Jackson comprise sharp, powerful and masculine movements in "Falls." Abdur-Rahim Jackson's spunky and spirited personality shined as the focal point of "Riba (Mainstream)," a classic jazz number combining sultry hips, playful steps and even a men's kick line. The stunning finale, which featured Linda Celeste Sims and Matthew Rushing, was a breathtaking finish.

The River was performed on December 12, 2006, and Pas De Duke was performed on December 19, 2006.

For a performance schedule of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, visit www.alvinailey.org.
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