Thursday, March 30, 2000

Ailey show is paradise for purists

Enquirer contributor

        I have just one question for the Alvin Ailey dancers: How does it feel to be adored? At the end of their performance at the Aronoff Center on Tuesday they were treated like rock stars. If we had had our Bics, we would have flicked.

        What brought the 1,600 of us leaping to our feet was Mr. Ailey's Revelations. Quite simply, it's a masterpiece. It reveals the essence of his enormous contribution to dance — and the heart and soul of his enormously talented dancers.

        Through old spirituals such as “Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel” and “Take Me To the Water” we're set down on emotional ground — a place where many choreographers don't go. In his youth, Sundays were spent in a Texas Baptist Church, and he drew from those formative years to make Revelations.

        From “I Been 'Buked” where dancers' entire bodies radiate heavenly through uplifted chests, to “Wade in the Water,” which brings everyone to the waters of redemption, to “Sinner Man,” a penitential tour de force, we're on a journey to paradise. With “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham,” we're there, clapping and swaying in a perfect world of rhythm and love. This piece seems to have been divinely guided.

        The ovation went on during a dozen or so curtain calls until something occurred I've never seen before: a dance encore. The company must have had this experience before; in no time the tape was rewound and we were back to “Rocka My Soul.” Although it's done every performance it's still fresh and exuberant; Revelations is their daily prayer.

        Before Mr. Ailey in 1989, he chose Judith Jamison to keep his company going. His favorite muse faithfully maintains the spirit. In this “Millennium Season” tour, she chose primarily Ailey works to showcase. Most date from the 1970s, but only a couple show their age.

        Memoria (1979 with music by Keith Jarrett) looks old and tired with too many ballet references and too many drifting images. Night Creature (1974 to Duke Ellington) is great fun, but the age of its jazz style shows.

        Modern choreographers don't make dances like that anymore — movements done straight out to the audience, lots of unison dancing and steps taken back to their purist form. But then again, everyone could take a lesson from Mr. Ailey, a master at getting to the heart of the matter and delivering to the faithful.

        Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater also performed Wednesday.


Gunman sought in fatal I-75 shooting
Sleepy? Put blame where it belongs
Officer apologizes for insult
Tax complaint may lead to change
Tax plan benefits non-public schools
Child rape case 'heartbreaking'
Death of 2-year-old described
Ruling may affect local nude dancing
Census seeks homeless amid bushes, trash bins
Drive-by killer no show in court
Watchdog keeps county on its toes
Margaret Thatcher to visit city Friday
Message to trucks removed
Queen City's moments to shine reflected in book
Report: Ohio's charter schools get poor grades
Some doubt usefulness of lowered alcohol limit
Baseball treasures catch top dollar
- Ailey show is paradise for purists
Group works to bring outdoor drama to area
Ohio natives know enough to make movie in Maui
Carlisle School Board member departing, but not going far
Colerain gets spring cleanup
Council: Keep recruit class
Culture celebration is a real mixer
Drug strike force chief quits
Former deejay's death suspicious
Hamilton schools buy building for offices, training center
Ky. House passes firearms bill
Lebanon council must fill empty seat
Legislators stalemate over budget
Morrow man guilty of setting bar fire
N. Ky. studying east-west route
President of mental retardation board quits
Wyoming development on hold