Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dancing From the Soul -- Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Magnificent. Elegant. Enthralling. Soulful. An extraordinary vision manifested. One masterpiece after another.

These are just a few of the words and phrases that describe the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. And, quite frankly, these words and phrases don't do the company enough justice.

Aiden and I had the opportunity to see the company perform last weekend and, when we left City Center, we were moved... changed... inspired. I mean, that's what good and effective theater does to you, right? It leaves you feeling and thinking and challenging the status quo.

The show began with Artistic Director, Robert Battle, greeting the audience members and wittily pointing out that he noticed we were all dolled up, with our "hair did, nails did, everything did." As he stated, we "show[ed] out" and showed up ready for a great performance.

And that's exactly what we got.

Each night, different pieces are performed, which makes it even more amazing. Aiden and I were in attendance for the Ailey-Ellington night, which celebrates Duke Ellington and his music, and is a mixture of classical ballet with modern techniques like Horton.

There were a few pieces that stuck with me:

Pas de Duke is Alvin Ailey's modern dance translation of the classical pas de deux. This piece brings Duke Ellington's music to life in a way that touches your soul. The piece stays with you long after the dancers leave the stage.

AAADT's Antonio Douthit-Boyd in Alvin Ailey's Pas de Duke.  Photo by Paul Kolnik
The River combines classical ballet, modern dance, and jazz, and is clearly so seamlessly choreographed and so smooth, just like... you guessed it... water.

AAADT's Jamar Roberts and Alicia Graf Mack in Alvin Ailey's The River. Photo by Paul Kolnik
The "sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful" Revelations is one of my absolute favorite ballets. I live for this finale. Every. Single. Time. It's a great celebration and lovely tribute to African culture and spirituals. And it gets the crowd going. Every. Single. Time. 

AAADT's Antonio Douthit-Boyd, Yannick Lebrun and Kirven Douthit-Boyd in Relevations. Photo: Andrew Eccles
AAADT's Kirven Douthit-Boyd, Alicia Graf Mack and Demetia Hopkins in Revelations. Photo by Gert Krautbauer

It's truly a celebration of dance and culture. As Robert Battle stated in his charming greeting, "Dancing comes to the people and should always be delivered back to the people."

That's exactly what the company did. Again.

The show was so enjoyable, not only because of the talented dancers, but because it is evident that each one of them loves what they do. You can tell that dancing is in their blood stream, their bones, and all up in their DNA... it's as though they were made to do this. You can feel their energy because it jumps off the stage, bouncing from row to row, seat to seat. From their hearts to yours.

It's truly a remarkable experience. And I'm happy that Aiden and I have started this tradition in going to see them during this time of year. It's a memory that he'll keep with him for years to come.

And that, my friends, is what it's all about.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater runs through January 5, 2014 at City Center and tickets start as low as $25. Visit the website to grab your tickets now and be prepared to be mesmerized.

{Disclaimer: I was provided with tickets to the performance in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own.}

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