Alvin Ailey Dance Theater
Program C Friday April 13, 2018 8 PM
UC Berkeley Zellerbach Hall
New Works on the Ailey Program
An unusual program of works, old and new, Ailey, Battle, Tharp and Sansano were danced on Friday April 13, along with the season’s favorite, “Revelations.” Program C ’s new work was “Victoria” (2017), the West Coast Premiere. Choreographer Gustavo Ramírez Sansano (San Fulgencio, Spain), is artistic director of Luna Negra Dance Theater from 2009–13. He currently works as a freelance choreographer and directs Titoyaya Dansa.
Sansano’s piece centers on work, as physical labor and as joyous encounters with reality. One dancer remarked that it is a ‘victory’ for the work process. This reviewer saw it, with its “Victoria” name, as the mechanization of human encounters. Danced by; Jacquelin Harris, Jamar Roberts, Belén Pereyra-Alem and others, in work clothes, it is a strong new opener for Ailey programs.
Twyla Tharp has been making dances for company’s other than her own for a decade or more. I first saw “The Golden Section” performed by her company when it was new, in 1983. Restaged for Ailey by former Tharp company member, Shelly Washington, it is a powerful series of busy locomotor activities. “The Golden Section” refers to a mathematical proportion which Tharp may (or may not) be using to construct this piece. The music is by David Byrne. It moves fast and furious. The Tharp company performed it as if they were aspects of the wind: the Ailey company, bigger and more powerful move as fast but make a stronger impact. The thirteen member cast really fill the stage.
“Ella” to music sung by Ella Fitzgerald is an homage to the great lady. Artistic Director Robert Battle has created a duet for Renaldo Maurice and Michael Francis McBride and three others that captures the blues of Fitzgerald’s “Airmail Special.” The dance is a sweet interlude before the celebration of “Revelations.”
There is little more to be said about Ailey’s signature piece. After more that 15 or 20 times seeing the work, it remains, for this viewer, a extraordinary presentation of brilliant dancing, spiritual commitment, joyous excitement and great staging. Clifton Brown has the technical expertise necessary for “I wanna be ready,” but he does not deliver the emotional depth this piece once held by others. But altogether, “Revelations” is one of the great dance masterpieces of the 20th century. I look forward to seeing it through the 21st century and beyond.
Joanna G. Harris