Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater made their way to the Tilles Center to perform three times on a stop on their tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of Alvin Ailey’s famous choreography, “Revelations,” as well as Judith Jamison’s final year as Artistic Director. On Friday, April 29th, the company performed four pieces: “Anointed,” “The Evolution …of a Secured Feminine,” “The Hunt,” and last but not least, “Revelations.”
One word to describe Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is strong. The strong technique and incredible athleticism of the dancers poured through with each movement of every dance.
“Anointed” began with a sensual duet between Rachael McLaren and Antonio Douthit entitled “Passing.” The strength of the women of the company showed through the most during “Sally Forth,” a section of “Anointed.” A strong feeling of anguish came through during the piece, which especially showed through during the periodic changing of colored lights that seemed to dance along with the music.
“The Evolution of a Secured Feminine,” a piece choreographed by Camille Brown, was a solo danced by Briana Reed. It was quirky and, of course, perfect technique-wise, but it did not thrill like the next piece did.
“The Hunt,” a piece performed by 6 men, was a dance of power, violence and dominance. Although the music sounded industrial, the dancing was purely animalistic. The men, wearing black skirts, screamed pure masculinity as they contorted and contracted their bodies. Every muscle worked to produce a magnificent piece.
After the second and final intermission, “Revelations” took the stage. When it seemed the night could not possibly get any better, “Pilgrim of Sorrow,” the first act of “Revelations,” started. The first act of “Revelations” is about “reaching for something you cannot touch,” Judith Jamison explained in a video that preceded the final dance. Set to gospel music, the iconic movement started with the dancers reaching up to the sky with open palms. The entire piece was spiritually strong, yet somber at times, and viewers could feel the emotions radiating from the dancers.
“Take Me to the Water,” the second act of “Revelations” was inspired by Alvin Ailey’s personal experience of being baptized in the lake outside his church as a 12 year old. Dressed in the recognizable white dresses, with one dancer carrying an open umbrella stretched up to the sky, the dancers took the stage and transformed. The favorite piece of the entire night had to be “I Wanna Be Ready,” where the dancers rippled like water.
The last act of “Revelations” is titled “Move, Members, Move,” and it expresses the joy that still shines through in the church, even in a time of anguish. This anguish is associated with the civil rights movement, where Ailey and other African-Americans struggled for equality in the South.
Elegant dancers dressed in yellow with hats and fans took the stage after three men performed “Sinner Man.” The men performed a piece where they appeared to become overtaken by a higher spirit. The women danced and joyously praised their lord, dancing soulfully with the gospel music, never abandoning the technique. The night ended with “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham” where the whole company performed an incredible feel-good piece.
Overall, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was magnificent. The athleticism of the dancers is beyond belief, and the perfect technique is unlike anything ever seen. If you can’t make it to the Tilles Center on Saturday April 30th at 2pm and 8pm, but you have a chance to see the company perform, they cannot be missed.