In Interview with a Vampire, the vampire Armand chooses a companion from the current century in order to transition into a new era thereby keeping himself relevant. So if you are one of the most recognized dance companies and global ambassadors of the arts, how do you maintain your dominance? You take a page out of Armand’s book. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has cultivated a reputation for excellence in dance and this season AAADT continues to stand on top of the Pantheon of modern dance companies by showcasing the future while continuing to preserve the best Ailey.
This season Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater premiered six productions at the New York City Center, two of which were new, three were company premieres and one a world premiere. Along with staples such as Revelations, Night Creature, Minus 16 and Urban Folk Dance, AAADT confidently prances into the 21st century with athletic grace.
With the exception of the iconic Revelations, I was privy to view a night of firsts for the company. On December 5, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed Memoria and The Evolution of a Secured Feminine for the first time this season. I also was fortunate enough to witness the world premiere performance of Another Night.
Memoria, choreographed by Alvin Ailey in 1979 and dedicated to the memory of his friend Joyce Trisler, is classic Ailey on display. The work is celebratory and poignant, evoking spirits and emotion in each move. To add a modern twist, members of The Ailey School, dressed in vibrant colors, joined the members of AAADT on stage bringing a zephyr of effervescence to an already powerful ballet.
Like most of works performed by AAADT The Evolution of a Secured Feminine is a piece that is layered in sentiment, athletic perfection and sheer beauty. Also, it possesses the potential to become iconic. Choreographed by Camille A. Brown and performed by only one company member, Rachel McLaren, The Evolution of a Secured Feminine is a glorious narrative about love and loss from a woman’s perspective.
Another Night truly captured the essence of AAADT’s ability to fresh and contemporary. Kyle Abraham is a rising star in the dance world, and after viewing this work I’m certain that he will take his place amongst dance royalty someday. Set to Dizzy Gillespie’s “Night in Tunisia”, Abraham takes a timeless jazz tune and breathes new life into bebop with moves that remain true to Ailey’s Horton roots, but also carry the aesthetic and energy of New York’s underground dance scene. Another Night reminded me of the countless nights I participated in circles, sprinkling baby powder on the floor. When one of the dancers broke into a duck walk, I knew they were working for the children (of the night that is) and getting their life on that stage. I wanted to get up and dance with them. This season AAADT also bid farewell to Renee Robinson, her last performance with the company was December 9. It was bittersweet to see her dance in Revelations one last time.
The role of an ambassador is to represent his/her country or sovereign. With Robert Battle now adding new chapters to the legacy Alvin Ailey built over 50 years ago, no one can deny that AAADT has represented their medium of the arts with unparalleled passion and will continue to not only remain majestic, but ageless as well.
Photos: Andrew Eccles, Nan Melville, Paul Kolnik