Review: Alvin Ailey’s ‘Young NY Night’ Premiere Dazzles
By Mercedes Vizcaino, Contributing Writer, December 6, 2016
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to New York City Center with an explosive five-week holiday season program created to enchant audiences. December 1st marked their first Young NY Night series aimed to attract and engage patrons between 21 – 30 to the captivating art of dance.
Because this particular night had so many fascinating elements wrapped into one, it is hard to highlight a singular moment. As I looked into the audience there was a wide demographic represented—from the coveted millennial crowd to well beyond—and everyone was ready to be entertained. To start the evening, Artistic Director Robert Battle made a curtain speech asking everyone in the audience to participate in videotaping a “mannequin challenge” for 40 seconds. This type of viral video sensation has swept social media and has been embraced and acted out by everyone from politicians, celebrities, fashion icons to law enforcement, as well as everyone else in the U.S. and around the world. Unconventional? Before the start of a performance? Yes—but very telling of the times in which we live—everyone is struggling to stay relevant.
The first piece of the evening was the World Premiere of Deep, featuring choreography by Mauro Bigonzetti, paired with vocals from French-Cuban twins, Naomi and Lisa-Kinde Diaz (daughters of percussionist Miguel “Angá” Diaz of Buena Vista Social Club fame). The melody had an inviting trancelike quality, so enriching for the ears to absorb. The choreography leaned toward classical ballet with a soulful twist. The dancers were costumed in subtle black ensembles and moved with effortless grace in sync to the music.
The next piece was Awakening, with music by American composer John Mackey—lyric-free with an apocalyptic feel—the performers danced in unison while dressed in all-white (in sharp contrast to the all-black clad dancers in Deep). Accentuated with frenetic solos, it seemingly symbolized the end of the world. The dancers moved together and were frequently guided by a white light shining on them from above, as if to embark on a new beginning.
Next was A Case of You, a steamy and sensual duet by Judith Jamison (excerpted from Alvin Ailey’s former award-winning Artistic Director and choreographer’s piece Reminiscin’) performed to Diana Krall’s throaty version of Joni Mitchell’s song by the same name. The emotionally charged performance left audiences gasping for more.
The evening ended with the critically acclaimed Revelations, one of the company’s signature works. Originally choreographed by Ailey himself in 1960, the autobiographical piece depicts his deep-rooted love for gospel and spiritual hymns. Exploring the highs and lows of the human condition, with scenery and costumes in earth tones, the choreography utilizes seemingly improvised movement. Within the framework of the traditional ballet idiom, there are obvious influences from the choirs and churches from historically prevalent Southern African-American communities.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater continues its season with new works as well as many favorites through the end of the year. Give yourself an early holiday present and see this company in action.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at New York City Center, 155 West 55th Street, New York, on December 1, 2016 with performances through December 31, 2016. Artistic Director: Robert Battle.
Deep; Choreography by Mauro Bigonzetti; music by Ibeyi, Bernard Hanighen, Theolonius Monk, Sakamoto Ryuichi and Cootie Williams; performed by Ibeyi; costumes by Jon Taylor; lighting by Carlo Cerri. Dancers: Constance Stamatiou, Fana Tesfagiorgis, Rachael McLaren, Sarah Daley, Ghrai DeVore, Belen Pereyra, Jacqueline Green, Jacquelin Harris, Daniel, Harder, Collin Heyward, Jamar Roberts, Glenn Allen Sims, Yannick Lebrun, Michael Jackson, Jr., Renaldo Maurice, Samuel Lee Roberts.
Awakenings; Choreography by Robert Battle; assisted by Marlena Wolfe and Elisa Clarke; music by John Mackey; costumes by Jon Taylor; lighting by Al Crawford. Dancers: Jamar Roberts, Rachael McLaren, Sarah Daley, Jacqueline Green, Belen Pereyra, Elsa Clark, Jacquelin Harris, Yannick Lebrun, Michael Francis McBride, Samuel Lee Roberts, Daniel Harder, Kanji Segawa.
A Case of You; Choreography by Judith Jamison; restaging by Hope Boykin and Jamar Roberts; music by Joni Mitchell; performed by Diana Krall; costumes by Jon Taylor; lighting by Al Crawford. Dancers: Rachael McLaren, Yannick Lebrun.
Revelations; Choreography by Alvin Ailey; music: Traditional; décor and costumes by Ves Harper; Costumes for “Rocka My Soul” redesigned by Barbara Forbes; Lighting Design by Nicola Cernovitch. Dancers: Renaldo Maurice, Elisa Clark, Samantha Figgins, Akua Noni Parker, Jermaine Terry, Kanji Segawa, Danica Paulos, Solomon Dumas, Collin Heyward, Ghrai DeVore, Vernard J. Gilmore, Constance Stamatiou, Michael Francis McBride, Michael Jackson, Jr., Collin Heyward, Sean Aaron Carmon and the Company.
Cover: AAADT in Mauro Bigonzetti’s ‘Deep’; Photo by Paul Kolnik