Posted in Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, classic Ailey, dance, modern American dance, Paul Taylor, Revelations

It’s Ailey Season In The City

Dance is a sort of go-to during the holidays. For some of us New Yorkers, it’s Ailey Season.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, at New York City Center through December 30th, is a sort of alt-Nutrcracker– not that there is anything wrong with the profusion of Nutcrackers around town.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater company in “Revelations.” Photo by Manny Herhandez. 

The uplifting, “Revelations,” an Ailey-choreographed piece that has stopped the show all over the world since its creation in 1960, continues to be the crown-jewel of the AAADT.

Artisitic Director Emerita Judith Jamison in “Revelations” from the company archives.

 Going to church with Ailey is always a special privilege. At the performance we attended, the music was live, conducted by Nedra Olds-Neal, and the AAADT company was joined by Ailey II and Students of the Ailey School to make up a cast of 50.

Cast of 50 for “Revelations.” Photo by Christopher Duggan.

Ailey’s dancers are among those who can be entrusted to do justice to the Paul Taylor cannon. Indeed, Taylor directed them when they introduced his “Arden Court” to the repertory last season. AAADT’s style meshes well with the work.

AAADT in Paul Taylor’s “Arden Court.” Photo by Paul Kolnik.
The pomp and circumstance of the music by William Boyce has a processional grace. The dancing is at once majestic and down-to-earth. The muscularity of motion is fluid and easy. For Taylor, dance is play for adults.
AAADT’s rendering of “Arden Court” is joyful and fun. 
Robert Battle, who took over as the third Artistic Director in AAADT’s history in 2011 from Judith Jamison,
does not want his choreography to dominate the repertory. His “Takedeme” offered a brief (at just 5 minutes) but powerful and amusing addition to AAADT programming.
Yannick Lebrun makes a leap in Robert Battle’s “Takedeme” seem so easy.  Photo by Andrew Eccles.

 The score, “Speaking in Tongues II” by Sheila Chandra, scolds in jibberish. The dance is complex, based on Indian Kathak, and the dancer, Yanick Lebrun moved muscles he could not possibly have had in isolation.

The afternoon’s highlight, however, was Garth Fagan’s “From Before,” (1978) which enters AAADT repertory as a company premiere this season. Set to “Path” by Trinindadian composer, Ralph MacDonald, the dance starts out with African inflections, moves on to the Caribbean, and from there becomes jazzy. The Fagan-costumed cast in silken unitards, their bodies sleek in vivid colors. The steps are as lively as the vibrant melodies and rhythms that accompany the movement.

AAADT in Garth Fagan’s “From Before.” Photo by Paul Kolnik. 

For more information about Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and a schedule of programming, visit