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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater At City Center

It was the first night of the subway strike and cold -- even though technically winter would not arrive until the following day – with the wind blowing sharply in from the Hudson River. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at City Center was just about sold out. But, given the circumstances, ticket- takers and theater-goers gathering in the lobby were wondering: how many would show? Apparently, nearly everyone. For when the 7 p.m. curtain rose, it was on a full house.

Somehow this was no more than what could be expected. When Alvin Ailey comes to town for the month of  December, it’s like another light is added to the array of glittering trees all over Manhattan. Beyond which the program this particular night was a celebration of sorts as it featured selections from nine “Ailey Classics” that together encompass the scope, content, and style of the gifted and ground-breaking choreographer of  African American modern dance.

The fluidity and grace, vibrancy, and energy of every one of the thirty member-company are simply thrilling to behold. At the same time powerful and tender, athletic and balletic, they succeeding conveying through the signature Ailey extensions, lifts, leaps, and turns, the range of the choreographer’s vision. Among the ballets, were the diaphanous, lyrical and soaring “Memoria” (1979), the snappy Jazz Age-evocative “Night Creature” (1974) set to music by Duke Ellington, and the poignant yet strong “Cry” (1971) --which Ailey dedicated to his mother and tried out on his muse Judith Jamieson (artistic director of the company since Ailey’s untimely death in 1989) -- where two women like a pair of gorgeous swans in voluminous layers of white evoke the struggle and triumph of their gender.

But the greatest crowd-pleaser was reserved for the recital’s conclusion “Revelations” which the choreographer created in 1960, just two years after the group of young, black Alvin Ailey dancers debuted at the 92nd Street Y. The work, considered Ailey’s masterpiece, reaches back to the spirituality of  his rural Texas childhood. Set to stirring, deeply felt spirituals and staged to dramatic lighting and scenic effect (silky swaths of fabric convey the baptismal waters of the segment “Wade in the Water”), it comes to a joyous finale in the “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham” which brought an audience -- many of whom had struggled mightily to reach City Center this evening -- to its feet demanding curtain call after curtain call.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will be at City Center through January 1, 2006 with both revivals of classic ballets and three world premiers before embarking on a national tour.

New York City Center is located on West 55th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues in mid-town Manhattan.

Tickets & Performance Information

  • New York City Center CityTix®

    • Phone: 212.581.1212
    • Fax: 212.541.7979

Phone lines open at 11:00am and close at 8:00pm, seven days a week for ticket sales and performance information.

Photos by Harvey Frommer

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About the Authors:  Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer are a wife and husband team who successfully bridge the worlds of popular culture and traditional scholarship. Co-authors of the critically acclaimed interactive oral histories It Happened in the Catskills, It Happened in Brooklyn, Growing Up Jewish in America, It Happened on Broadway, It Happened in Manhattan, It Happened in Miami. They teach what they practice as professors at Dartmouth College.

They are also travel writers who specialize in luxury properties and fine dining as well as cultural history and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. More about these authors.

You can contact the Frommers at: 

Email: myrna.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU
Email: harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU

This Article is Copyright © 1995 - 2012 by Harvey and Myrna Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

Photos by Harvey Frommer

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