The beloved holiday tradition that is the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater year-end engagement at New York City Center is in full swing, with only another week to go until the “joyous close” of the 4-week season on Christmas Eve.
At a recent Saturday matinee performance at the renowned West 55th Street cultural venue, attendees of all ages joined the long but quick-moving line flanked by sharp-eyed young workers proffering boxes of masks toward the maskless (masks-on is required to enter the theater). The rush and excitement buzz to get to seats before curtain time extends to the restroom where the entertaining lady attendant speeds visitors along with a lively countdown of seconds remaining to make it to their seats.
The show delivers – inspiring and uplifting, “the Ailey way” as Artistic Director Robert Battle once told Our Town. Performed to a full house, the evening’s program included repertory favorites such as “Blues Suite,” a delightful choreography of Southern soul and sass, replete with showgirl red outfits and men in jaunty fedoras, that premiered in 1958 when the company’s legendary founder Alvin Ailey was only 27-years-old.
Appeal to Audiences
There was the achingly beautiful classic “Cry” delivered flawlessly by Ghrai DeVore-Stokes, captivating the audience for the full 17-minutes of the emotional solo ballet. First performed in 1971 by Ailey’s muse and star performer Judith Jamison, now Artistic Director Emerita of the company, “Cry” continues to have enduring appeal to audiences at home and across the globe.
The joyful and energetic, much shorter solo performance by Christopher R. Wilson in Duke Ellington’s “Reflections In D” was as pleasing to the audience as Wilson himself, returning for several graceful bows to appreciative applause and smiles before the glorious red curtains finally closed. Intermission came too quickly, in a blink it seems, so easily enraptured by the dazzling versatility of Ailey’s amazing cast, the music selections – the whole atmosphere – was audience.
To close the evening was Ailey’s timeless masterpiece “Revelations.” The company’s most popular dance work since it’s premiere in 1960, the mix of African-American spirituals and gospel songs takes the audience to church – an enlivening sing-along, foot-tapping response culminating with attendees on their feet in sustained applause and cheers.
Other programming included in the 2022 holiday season are “Ailey & Jazz” performances featuring live music from talented young players 25 and under, and new works showcasing Jamar Roberts’ “In a Sentimental Mood,” Paul Taylor’s “DUET” and Kyle Abraham’s world premiere “Are You in Your Feelings?” among others. The finale on December 24 will include two performances, a 2:00 p.m. Ailey Classics matinee popular with families, and a 7:00 p.m. show featuring new pieces, both concluding with the company’s signature cultural treasure “Revelations.”
To view the schedule of performances through December 24, and future engagements through 2023, visit: www.alvinailey.org.