It’s Spring, It was The Ailey, at UCB, March 15

16 Apr

Rita Felciano and I made the second performance of Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Company at U.C., Zellerbach Hall March 15 and had the good fortune of sitting next to Joanna Berman and her husband Andrew Mandel as well as a very demonstrative audience,  frequently standing after each of the four numbers in Program 2.

What invariably came across in each number, even with the solo Cry danced with eloquence by Jacqueline Green, is that the Ailey works and dances hard as well as eloquently.  Another impression is how much Ailey relied on the reaches of the arms, whether stretched laterally, vertically, at an angle or with deliberately bent wrists.  In his 1974 Duke Ellington piece, Night Creature, Ailey demonstrates that he knew the urban African-American terrain as much as the rural one so celebrated in Revelations. He also established not only the company’s communal quality, but that  the African-American community exudes it from the pores of each individual.

Untitled America, Kyle Abraham (2016), and Exodus, Rennie Harris (2015), demonstrated clearly, wonderfully just how many  tall, stalwart and impressive male dancers the Ailey company enjoys, and just how well they move and look on stage.  Both works emphasize the amazing communal sense of the company, a reflection of the spirit running constantly through the larger community.

While sitting next to us,  Joanna Berman  informed us with great pleasure that she had been giving the Ailey company their daily ballet class for the last five seasons.  In her clear enthusiasm she declared it one of her privileges,  “They are so earnest, so respectful and work so hard.”

I would say definitively a great bond has been forged.  May it long continue.

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