AAADT'S Hope Boykin in Matthew Rushing's "Odetta." (Steve Wilson)
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has descended upon Los Angeles again for a short time, from April 15 to April 19. Ailey arrives every other year as part of the “Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center” in downtown Los Angeles.
After watching the opening performance, it was apparent Ailey has not lost any of its shine. I was fortunate to have been introduced to the dance company at a young age, and I continued to attend the troupe’s performances for years and years. When Ailey inaugurates a new piece, I become giddy.
The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was packed Wednesday night with guests dressed to impress. Before the show began, artistic director Robert Battle came out and welcomed the audience. He announced the West Coast premiere of “Odetta” as well as all the pieces that people have come to love and appreciate, like “Revelations.”
When he walked off and the curtain went up, two diagonal paths lit up the dark stage. Then, the dancers appeared and disappeared, showing off their strength and fine lines. The piece, called “Episodes,” debuted in 1987 but felt timeless that night, as if it had been created this year.
Choreographer David Parsons created the next piece, entitled “Caught.” A male dancer performed under a spotlight — but then the stage went dark. Strobe lights later appeared, and the dancer performed a series of 100 leaps, appearing as if he was flying across the stage. The strength to maintain those poses and leaps required pure dedication, and the audience conveyed its gratitude by giving a standing ovation after the performance.
In “Minus 16,” 20 of the company’s dancers occupied the stage. At first, they danced strongly with fortitude. But as the piece continued, the dancing became softer, as clothes and layers started to come off. Near the end, the performers came to audience members’ seats and selected people to join them on stage to be a part of the show. At this point, the dancers became relatable, moving around freely without restrictions. The crowd loved it, and people pulled out their camera phones to snap photos.
Ailey’s classic piece — and arguably the routine the dance company is most known for — is “Revelations.” Those who attend Thursday or Friday night’s show will be able to watch the routine, which was created in 1960 by Alvin Ailey himself. “Revelations” contains the famous body shapes and lines that Ailey dancers are known for and is a tribute to heritage, culture, survival and joy. It’s a crowd-pleaser that’s sure to put a smile on everyone’s faces.
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will remain in L.A. through Sunday, April 19 with four remaining shows, and the company will have three separate performances. Run, or leap, down to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion as quickly as you can to see these talented dancers.