About the Author:
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater - Grace, Hymn, The Winter in Lisbon
Alvin Ailey - Founder
Judith Jamison - Artistic Director
Joan H. Weill, Chairman, Board of Trustees
Masazumi Chaya - Associate Artistic Director
Sharon Gersten Luckman —Executive Director
Calvin Hunt, General Manager
Amadea Edwards Andino, Administrative Manager
Bernice Collins, Company Manager
Jodi Pam Krizer, Director, Marketing and Public Relations
Lynette Rizzo, Marketing Manager
Beth Olsen - Public Relations Manager
Cohn Davis Bigar Communications—Publicity
(See Other Ailey Reviews and Photos)
(See Ailey School Groundbreaking Ceremony)
(See Dwana Adiaha Smallwood Interview)
Alvin Ailey was born in Texas in 1931 and studied with Lester Horton, who created the first racially integrated dance company. In 1953, he became Director of the Lester Horton Dance Theater and began to choreograph new works. Alvin Ailey studied with famed artists, such as Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater began in March, 1958, with a small performance by Alvin Ailey and a group of young, black modern dancers at the 92nd Street Y, followed by the development of a Company that meshes the rich culture of African-American and Multicultural Heritage with Modern Dance techniques and current trends in Dance, Politics, and all Performing and Visual Arts. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has performed around the world for an audience, estimated to be 19 million, and it has released two compact discs of music from the Ailey repertoire. It has also over 180 works in its repertoire by more than 65 choreographers. (Ailey Publicity Notes).
Judith Jamison, Artistic Director, continues the legacy of celebrating the black cultural experience and the heritage of Modern Dance. Ms. Jamison was discovered by Agnes de Mille at a master class in 1964 and made her NY Debut in one of Ms. De Mille's ballets at American Ballet Theatre, The Four Marys. Ms. Jamison joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1965 and quickly became a star in the company for the next fifteen years. Alvin Ailey created many solo roles for Ms. Jamison, such as that in Cry. Ms. Jamison has performed and choreographed for numerous dance companies around the world, such as Maurice Bejart's Ballet of the Twentieth Century. Prior to his early death, Alvin Ailey requested that Ms. Jamison succeed him as Artistic Director, which she did in 1989. Ms. Jamison has carried the torch well and continues to showcase new choreographers from within the Company. She has created many programs for arts in the schools and, as a result of her superb leadership of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, she has won numerous awards and honors, such as presidential appointee to the National Endowment for the Arts. (Ailey Publicity Notes).
Review by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 7, 2003
Grace (1999): (See December 11, 2002 and December 20, 2002 Grace Reviews). Choreography by Ronald K. Brown; Assistant to Choreographer, Angelica Patterson, Telly Fowler; Music, Various Artists; Costumes by Omatayo Wunmi Olaiya; Lighting by William H. Grant, III; Performed by the Company. These uplifting and very interesting dances, in stark counterpoint, with slow walks on and offstage as other dancers keep separate rhythms, evolve spiritually through Gospel and more contemporary Ellington into an emotionally and visually satisfying series of interconnected themes. The entire ensemble, including the virtuosic duo of Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell and Linda Celeste Sims, was focused and forceful tonight in this inspiring work, choreographed by Ronald K. Brown.
Hymn (1993): Choreographed and Directed by Judith Jamison; Text Conceived, Written, and Performed by Anna Deavere Smith; Music by Robert Ruggieri; Original Costumes by Toyce Anderson; Costumes Redesigned by Jon Taylor; Set by Timothy Hunter, Daniel Bonitsky, and Donald J. Oberpriller; Lighting by Timothy Hunter; Performed by the Company. This Emmy award-winning piece, created in collaboration by Judith Jamison with Anna Deveare Smith, is a series of dance vignettes that re-tell the legacy of Alvin Ailey. The voice one hears is Ms. Smith, but Ms. Jamison has developed unique choreography that even allows the dancers to move to dialogue. Dudley Williams has the demeanor of Mr. Ailey in Never Spoken. Mr. Ailey is depicted in realistic and poignant memories. The passages of silence, dim lighting, and athletic virtuosity, both visceral and vibrant, are awesome. This musical and lyrical tribute is quite a fitting legacy. Other noteworthy vignettes are Dwana Adiaha Smallwood's A Message, Matthew Rushing's Whores in a Whorehouse Comin' to Church, and Linda Celeste Sims' Black Dress.
The Winter in Lisbon (1992): (See Ailey School Groundbreaking Ceremony and Performance) (Dedicated to the Memory of Gary Deloatch). Choreography by Billy Wilson; Restaged by Masazumi Chaya; Music by Dizzy Gillespie; Costumes by Barbara Forbes; Lighting by Chenault Spence; Performed by Renee Robinson, Glenn A. Sims, and the Company. Billy Wilson, who appeared on Broadway in Bells are Ringing and directed and choreographed Guys and Dolls, created this work for Gary Deloatch, whom I remember well as an original bravura dancer in the Ailey Company. Dizzy Gillespie's trumpet, mixed with a wild keyboard arrangement, provides the heat for the swiveling hips and bobbing heads that drive this tropically seductive work. Barbara Forbes has created appropriately colorful and eye-catching costumes, and Renee Robinson and Glenn A. Sims are outstanding in the Lisbon section.
Renee Robinson and Glenn A. Sims in The Winter in Lisbon, Choreographer: Billy Wilson
Photo courtesy of Andrew Eccles