Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey at Cal Performances

Hope-boykin * Notes *
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater gave a series of performances in Berkeley last week. Program A included the West Coast premiere of Hope Boykin's Go in Grace, which features live music from Sweet Honey in the Rock. In principal, live music and live dance together seems like it would be great. In practice, having the singers on stage was distracting, at times they obstructed the audience's view of the dancers. Go in Grace is a distinctly narrative work, and one felt all the words were getting in the way of the dancing. George Faison's more light-hearted Suite Otis was stronger, the segments that went with "I Can't Turn You Loose" and "Satisfaction" were particularly vital.

Program C was overwhelmingly Baroque. Mauro Bigonzetti's Festa Barocca was amusing, though I admit I was disoriented as they danced to a recording of Andreas Scholl singing "Va tacito" and "Dove sei." Hope Bodkin was particularly good, her hand and arm movements were gorgeous. She was also hilarious, as her role called for. Hans van Manen's Solo featured music from Bach. The three dancers were absolutely wonderful.

All the programs ended with Ailey's breathtaking signature work, Revelations.

* Tattling * 
The audience talked a bit, and there were many flashlights and mobile phone screens on during the dancing. The 50th anniversary film about the company that was played was a bit too much like an infomercial. The person in BB 2 kicked my arm with her bare foot during the Saturday evening performance.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Revelations_2* Notes *
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater comes to Berkeley nearly every year, with several performances and more than one program. This year the New York based company was here from February 28 until March 4, and I attended the first performance.

They opened with Twyla Tharp's The Golden Section from 1983, with music by David Byrne. The piece was very pleasing to me, lots of motion and energy. Karole Armitage's 2006 Gamelan Gardens was less so, the music by Lou Harrison grated on me. The movements had a strong clarity and elegance. They ended with Alvin Ailey's Revelations, still so beautiful 47 years after its first performance. The dancing was strong throughout, the timing good and the dancers had a strong sense of intention.

* Tattling *
People did not chatter too much during the dancing. A cellular phone went off during Revelations.