Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Shelter addresses homelessness. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy Ailey

Women Choreographers Rule at Ailey Next Week

Just in time for its summer season at Lincoln Center, the dancers and management of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater have settled their issues surrounding the performers' union contracts. Now that they've reached a new collective bargaining agreement, the dancers can sail into this weeklong season of nine ballets. (Well, maybe not sail, since this is some of the hardest repertory on earth.)



The Celebrate Women program, June 13 and 16, juxtaposes Judith Jamison's love duet, A Case of You (2004), with Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Shelter (1992), about homelessness.

The first is sweet, sensual and inventive. Watching this video clip of Jamison's piece, gorgeously danced by Jamar Roberts and Jacqueline Green, makes you feel like you're falling in love too.

The second piece is hard-hitting. It takes guts to put a gritty reality onstage when you know that people go to the theater—especially Lincoln Center—just to sit back and enjoy themselves. Zollar reveals the rage and exhaustion of people in this situation and, at the same time, uncovers a kind of sisterhood among them.

Also on the program is a world premiere by Jessica Lang, EN, that is influenced by Japanese culture.

Work by one more woman choreographer appears in this season—Twyla Tharp. Her magnificent Golden Section, originally the finale of The Catherine Wheel (1983), rides along on an exciting momentum of split-second tosses and falls to music by David Byrne. It's fast and furious, with an array of near collisions. It shares a program with Roberts' recent Members Don't Get Weary, which we visited in rehearsal last fall.

For more information on this five-day season, June 13–17, click here.

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Charlene Gehm MacDougal as Lead Nursemaid in Petrushka. Photo by Herbert Migdoll, courtesy the MacDougal family.

In Memoriam: Joffrey Dancer Charlene Gehm MacDougal, 69

Former lead dancer with The Joffrey Ballet, Charlene Gehm MacDougal died of ovarian cancer on January 10 at her home in New York City, age 69.

Gehm illuminated the inner life of each of the varied characters in her extensive repertoire. Whether she was the gracious hostess in George Balanchine's Cotillon, the riveting Lady Capulet in John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet, or in the tumult of William Forsythe's Love Songs, she drew the viewer's eye and heart to the essence of the role.

As Forsythe puts it: "Charlene was certainly one of the most elegant dancers I have had the privilege to work with. Her striking countenance flowed into her work and, joined with her wicked sense of humor and intelligence, created thoughtful, mesmerizing and memorable art."

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February 2021