Ailey: The Revelation of Relevance
Linda Celeste Sims in Wayne McGregor's Chroma. Photo by Paul Kolnik
Now in the midst of its 45th-annual season at New York City Center, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has expanded its repertoire to be more versatile artistically. It boasts four world premieres, two company premieres and five new productions. The dancers have to be strong physically and mentally. And they have to be ready for relevance.
The current repertoire, under the direction of Robert Battle, ranges from Ailey classics like Blues Suite and Revelations to the stretched, wacked-out Chroma by Wayne McGregor; from Rennie Harris’ house-dancing Exodus to Robert Battle’s edifying new Awakening; from Judith Jamison’s sensual A Case of You (one of my faves) to Aszure Barton’s tribal LIFT; from Christopher Wheeldon’s spare After the Rain to Paul Taylor’s spicy Piazzola Caldera. Many styles, many moods, many textures.
But the dancers also have to be ready for socially wrenching work. Kyle Abraham’s new Untitled America: First Movement takes account of racial issues like the preponderance of black men being incarcerated. (The second and third movements will be developed in the next two years.) A couple weeks ago, Dance Magazine interviewed Chalvar Monteiro about dancing in Kyle Abraham’s new piece.
Jacqueline Green in Kyle Abraham's Untitled America First Movement. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
As Monteiro says, “To have an institution of this magnitude that celebrates culture, especially black culture—what it is to be black right now in the world. It’s super important to take away the veil and talk about the things that aren’t so pretty about the place we call home.”
This could have been said back in 1961 when Alvin Ailey created Revelations. That masterpiece was relevant to Ailey’s own experience growing up in the South; it has since become less specific and more general about transcending suffering; its universality is recognized all over the world. Now Kyle Abraham’s piece focuses on the specific: in this case, the truth about the huge numbers of nonviolent black men who are sent to prison. This is something our culture should be looking at, and Abraham has found a way to do that. Kudos to Ailey—and Abraham—for keeping the revelations relevant.
For more about the season, which lasts until January 3, click here.
Booking a gig on a cruise ship can feel like you're diving into the unknown—dropping everything to live in the middle of the ocean without family, friends or cell service. But cruise jobs can also offer incredible rewards, like traveling the world for free and delving into a new style.
Is ship life the right fit for you? Here are some elements to consider.
We knew that New York downtown dance darling Okwui Okpokwasili was a big deal. Critics and audiences have been raving about her dance-theater works for years, and the new documentary about her, Bronx Gothic, has attracted the attention of the larger arts community.
But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine she'd show up in a Jay Z video, along with flex dancer Storyboard P. Though we're slightly less surprised to see Storyboard in Jay Z's "4:44" video than we were to see Okpokwasili, we're jazzed that two of our favorites are featured on such a huge platform. (We're also feeling #blessed that we didn't have to subscribe to Tidal to watch this.)
Throughout the years, choreographer Seán Curran has worked with a diverse array of talented collaborators—from Kyrgyz music ensemble Ustatshakirt Plus to the the Grammy Award–winning King's Singers. But perhaps none are as meaningful as his most recent group of co-choreographers: At-risk teens from the after school program and nonprofit The Wooden Floor.
Curran has been in residence with The Wooden Floor since June, where he's worked with students to build choreography based on their lives and communities:
Their creation will be shown July 20-22 at The Wooden Floor Studio Theatre in Santa Ana, California.
"Besides the stage, baking is my other happy place," says New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi.
Four years ago, she thought her baking days were over when she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Manzi had been dealing with pain, frequent illness and joint inflammation for nearly 10 years. Once she cut out gluten, Manzi gradually started to feel better, noticing a transformation in how her body felt and functioned. She found her joints were less inflamed, and she got sick less often.
New York City Ballet soloist Unity Phelan and American Ballet Theatre soloist Cassandra Trenary spend every day making their hard work look effortless and graceful both in the studio and onstage. That's exactly what makes them the perfect spokesmodels for the dance-inspired activewear line, Belle Force.
To celebrate our 90th anniversary, we excavated some of our favorite hidden gems from the DM Archives—images that capture a few of the moments in time we've documented over the decades.
This image was captured during a 1978 New York City Ballet tour that took the company to Copenhagen—home turf for Adam Luders (right), who trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and briefly danced with the company before joining NYCB as a principal dancer in 1975. Next to Luders is (of course) George Balanchine, in conversation with ballerina Suzanne Farrell. And looking on with a smile? NYCB's current ballet master in chief Peter Martins.
On March 8, 2016, Rami Shafi found himself inspired to film an impromptu dance video of his best friend, Aaron Moses Robin, improvising on Gay St. in New York City's Greenwich Village. Thus was born Pedestrian Wanderlust, a collection of dance videos that has grown to include a monthly improv jam.
Shafi works with anyone who wants to take part in the project, filming videos in locations chosen by the dancers and later adding music. The videos are shot on Shafi's iPhone in one take and, other than the starting and ending points, are entirely improvised. The editing afterwards—including the music choice—is minimal. "I don't like to edit too much. It's just what it is," says Shafi. "I usually can do the editing on the train ride home."