Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs Miami native Jamar Roberts’ “Member’s Don’t Get Weary.”
By ALISON BETHEL MCKENZIE
MIAMI – In what has become an annual tradition, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre graced the stage of the Adrianne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts for the company’s mid-February performance.
This year’s performance included the South Florida premier of “Mass,” choreographed by Miami native Robert Battle, who said the piece is based on a choir he once saw at Carnegie Hall. It also featured “Member’s Don’t Get Weary,” the Ailey choreographic debut of Miami native Jamar Roberts, a 15-year Ailey veteran.
And presumably in a nod to Black History Month, the company performed its renowned “Revelations,” celebrating its 68th year since the Ailey-choreographed dance debuted on the world stage in 1960. All performances of the iconic dance have been permanently endowed by a gift from Donald L. Jonas, of New York, in celebration of his wife Barbara’s birthday and her love of the company.
If a Sunday church revival rooted in the South were made solely of music and dance without one bit of a spoken sermon, it would be called Alvin Ailey.
Battle and Masazumi Chaya, associate artistic director, have maintained the essence of Ailey’s vision and his commitment to the art of modern dance and African-American culture.
The opening night performance on Feb, 22, featured four pieces – “Mass,” “Ella” (choreographed by Battle as a tribute to his mother), “Members Don’t Get Weary,” and “Revelations.”
A signature of the company is its ability to synchronize choreography, drawing attention to outstretched arms and legs. It’s as though a baby is reaching for his mother, longingly, hopeful. “Mass” and “Member’s Don’t Act Weary” continued the tradition on Feb. 22. They were beautifully danced, even with an occasional flaw.
While Ailey is always a delight to watch, the opening night performance lacked the energy typically associated with the company, founded by Alvin Ailey in 1958. While dancers Samantha Figgins and Chalvar Monteiro brought some of the heat in “Ella” – the second dance during the two-hour performance, which featured two 15-minute intermissions – there were few moments that really wowed the crowd.
In the end, the iconic masterpiece “Revelations” was the star of the show, with redesigned costumes by Barbara Forbes. The best of the best found Jeroboam Bozeman, Jermaine Terry and Solomon Dumas dancing in “Sinner Man.” It was splendid and big and everything we know Alvin Ailey to be.