A few weeks ago, I took a dance class at Alvin Ailey Extension that was inspiring, exhilarating, and challenging; the way my body felt, experiencing movement in ways I had not (or might have forgotten) – it was almost spiritual.
I had to see the hoofers in action.
It’s Dance Week in New York City, (which ends June 25) and you can get a free dance class with a purchase of a ticket to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Performances at Lincoln Center through June 19. If you haven’t had an Ailey experience and don’t live in New York City, don’t worry – the company travels!
I chose an Ailey show where all pieces were Ailey, because….why not?
We moved through the choreography of the Alvin Ailey and it was like moving through time. The range of emotions expressed through movement are powerful.
We started in 1958 with Blues Suite and the dancers moved gracefully. The impactful, deliberate movements, the cat and mouse chase, with the women surrendering, and the gorgeous costuming by Ves Harper brought us the Southern Black experience. We breathed through Negro spirituals and desires for love, acceptance, and poignant examples of anger.
We then moved into Love Songs, which was such a beautiful piece and commanded my undivided attention the entire performance. It brought you through a journey of love and longing, and the way XXX contorted his body and the passion in which he performs, you aren’t watching the performance – you feel it. It was hands-down my favorite piece of the evening.
Afterward, they gave a tribute to women with Cry. Ailey himself created Cry for his mother and utilized Judith Jamison to illustrate the experience. Watching an African-American dancer on stage, commanding a presence that is focused on the representation of Black women, is empowering.
Jamison once revealed, “Exactly where the woman is going through the ballet’s three sections was never explained to me by Alvin. In my interpretation, she represented those women before her who came from the hardships of slavery, through the pain of losing loved ones, through overcoming extraordinary depressions and tribulations. Coming out of a world of pain and trouble, she has found her way – and triumphed.”
Revelations is by far the most famous Ailey piece. For some reason, in the dance world, most companies won’t always perform the “star” pieces. But not Ailey.
If you haven’t seen Revelations, you’re missing out. Also, check out my video above, and remember, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater is not just a performance, it’s culture.
PHOTO CREDIT: Instagram, Getty