Reggie Wilson: Fist and Heel Performance

Saturday, September 23, 2017 Zellerbach Hall
Cal Performances


We heard the hymn ‘Go Down Moses.” We heard “Wade in the Water, “ the familiar theme song of the Alvin Ailey company. We saw a variety of brilliant dance moves choreographed by Wilson. All refer, in one way or another, to his research on Moses, the freedom leader.

Moses(es)” was inspired by Zora Neale Hurston’s “Moses, Man of the Mountain.” As such it entails various aspects of leadership, hopefully leading to freedom, in many places, in many times. Wilson directs the event, starting with an unspoken address to the audience after which he rolled up the set piece and stuffed it in a red suitcase. They are ready to go.

The company, five men and two women, are wonderful performers. The event proceeds without stop to music composed by Wilson and traditional music he has arranged. Wilson directs from the sidelines, sometimes playing percussion instruments. The dance phrases repeat endlessly but with a ‘post-modern’ invention that makes them continually interesting and arresting. There are sequences of floor work and interactive group ensemble.

The men jump with seemingly no preparation. The women are carried and lifted. The whole company speaks and chants at various intervals. The event is endlessly exciting.

Music is provided by a variety of sounds, from recording by Louis Armstrong, to the Klezmatics and the Blind Boys of Alabama. The dancers are Rhetta Aleong, Yeman Brown, Paul Hamilton, Lawrence A.W. Harding, Raja Feather Kelly, Clement Mensah and Annie Wang. The costumes are by Naoko Nagata. A post-performance discussion revealed the multiple places the dancers have come from. Of course, they all work in the Brooklyn based Wilson company home.

Berkely Radical, Cal Performances 2017/2018 schedule will include a series “Joining Generations.” These include future events: Camille A. Brown and Dancers (Dec. 8-10), Spectrum Dance Theater (Feb. 9-10) and culminating with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre (Apr. 10-15). These events will include workshops, discussions and events to highlight the social issues inherent in movement and gesture.

It will be an exciting season if “Fist and Heel” is any indication of the events to come.

Joanna G. Harris