Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Detroit Opera House
Through February 4th
More than ten years after its founder”s death, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is still thriving producing new and original choreography, performing stunning renditions of company standards, and continuing to expose the African-American experience through movement and music. These thirty-one dancers, dubbed “The Body Beautiful” by the Detroit News, will be gracing the stage of the Detroit Opera house beginning tonight.
The University Musical Society is collaborating with the Arts League of Michigan to bring the company to Detroit for five full-length performances, lasting until Sunday. Judith Jamison, a former soloist for the company, has taken Ailey”s position as artistic director. In addition to bringing in new choreographers and continuing to perform Ailey”s own work, Jamison has merged her own inventive artistic concepts in to the company”s repertoire. “I wear my heart on my sleeve,” Jamison said, “Just as I want my dancers to do, and do in fact do. You have to create a magical journey for the audience, one in which they can recognize themselves.”
It is these dancers” continuing commitment to Ailey”s vision that has brought this company from its first performance at the 92nd Street Y in 1958 to where it is today. AAADT is known worldwide as one of America”s foremost dance troupes and has been recognized by such organizations as the Kennedy Center Honors and The Samuel Scripps American Festival.
The company”s signature piece, “Revelations,” choreographed by Ailey in 1960, will be performed every night. Ailey found the inspiration for this modern dance piece from his early youth in Texas, where he spent many of his days in Sunday School and participating in the Baptists Young Peoples Union.
While in Detroit, the company will be collaborating with the local Rudy Hawkins Singers, who will be singing the piece”s score of traditional Negro spirituals.
Wednesday”s opening night performance also features Ronald K. Brown”s “Grace,” a modern dance piece set to Duke Ellington”s music, and Alonzo King”s ballet-based work, “Following the Subtle Upstream.” Thursday and Friday night both feature works entirely of Ailey”s: “Blues Suite,” “Pas de Duke” and “Phases.”
Saturday and Sunday will showcase three relatively new pieces. Dwight Rhoden, a former Ailey dancer, choreographed “Chocolate Sessions.” “He was the oddest and most wonderful, strange creature on stage,” Jamison said of Rhoden. “Now this new dance of his is creature-like and very inventive.”
The piece is set to an electronic score composed by Ailey alumnus Antonio Carlos Scott. Carmen de Lavallede”s “Sweet Bitter Love,” composed as a farewell to love and accompanied by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway ballads, will follow. Jamison”s new piece, “Double Exposure,” which features a synthesized musical score and video effects, finishes the night. Saturday”s special one-hour family matinee will have excerpts from Ailey”s “Phrases” and Jamison”s “Diving.”
“The dance is for everybody,” Alvin Ailey once said. “The dance came from the people. It should always be given back to the people.”