Los Angeles Dance Preview: ALVIN AILEY DANCE THEATER (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion)

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by Tony Frankel on March 1, 2017

in Theater-Los Angeles,Tours


After many happy visits to the Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater returns to unleash a sumptuous, three-program showcase for a five day engagement (March 8-12, 2017) with new glories (four west coast premieres) and the restoration of golden memories (five classic works).

Program A will ignite three west coast premieres:

r-Evolution, Dream., choreographed by veteran company member Hope Boykin, is a large ensemble work inspired by the speeches and sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The piece, which melds creative storytelling, new music by Ali Jackson (from Jazz at Lincoln Center), and historic and original writings recorded by Tony Award winner Leslie Odom, Jr. (from Hamilton) highlights the current relevance of Dr. King’s messages and reflects on the African American community’s past struggles along with the challenges it continues to face today.

Untitled America, created by MacArthur “Genius Grant” winner Kyle Abraham, is a haunting work that shines a light on the impact of the prison system on African American families; Abraham’s large-ensemble work is set to a soundscape of soul, ambient, percussive, and electronic music mixed with spoken word narration by former prisoners.

Ella, originally created as a solo, this high-energy comical dance was reinvented as a duet by the Ailey company for its December 2016 opening night gala benefit, An Evening of Ailey and Jazz, in anticipation of the legendary singer Ella Fitzgerald’s centennial next month, April 2017. Using a live concert recording of Fitzgerald performing the song “Airmail Special,” Ella, choreographed by Robert Battle, matches the iconic singer’s virtuosic scatting with lightning-fast, articulated movement in an irresistible tour-de-force that leaves audiences (and the dancers) breathless.

Program B’s west coast premiere is Deep, Mauro Bigonzetti’s return to Ailey with an elegant melding of European, American, and African cultures – set to the soulful and stirring music of Ibeyi, twin sisters who sing in English and Yoruba. The French-Cuban siblings, Naomi and Lisa-Kinde Diaz, are the daughters of the late Cuban percussionist Miguel “Anga” Diaz of Buena Vista Social Club fame. a thought-provoking dance broken into several parts and set to the haunting music of twin sisters Ibeyi, who sing in English and Yoruba. This half-hour work is a decidedly sexy summertime Ailey number. Also on “B” is Johan Inger’s daring contemporary take on Ravel’s BoleroWalking Mad. The work brings waves of emotion – first laughter, then tears – and employs a long, movable wall that can also be viewed as a symbol of the barriers people construct in their relationships.

Program C is an all-classic showing: Billy Wilson’s The Winter in Lisbon, celebrating the birth centennial of jazz legend of Dizzy Gillespie; a new production of Alvin Ailey’s rarely-seen masterwork Masekela Langage; and Robert Battle’s bold, unrestrained solo In/Side.

Each program will end with Revelations, Ailey’s 1960 36-minute signature piece, which delivers a Terpsichorean testament to ten still-stirring spirituals. This suite of spirituality ranges from the literal hell-raising of “Sinner Man” to the baptismal purification of “Wade in the Water,” with a parasol arcing over the action and ribbons suggesting the waters of the Jordan River while parishioners gleam in bright white. The final scene, hilariously busy with fluttering fans waved by gossipy church ladies, culminates in the contagious joy of “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.” If you chose to see all three programs, you will never tire of this stunning work.

Wednesday, March 8 @ 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 11 @ 7:30 p.m.

  • r-Evolution, Dream. WEST COAST PREMIERE
  • Untitled America, WEST COAST PREMIERE
  • Revelations

Thursday, March 9 @ 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 12 @ 2:00 p.m.

  • Walking Mad
  • Revelations

Friday, March 10 @ 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 11 @ 2:00 p.m.

  • The Winter in Lisbon
  • Masekela Langage
  • In/Side
  • Revelations

photos by Paul Kolnik

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater
Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Avenue
for tickets, call 213.972.0711 or visit The Music Center

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