Thursday, December 6, 2012

On an Ailey high
Rachel McLaren (photo by Andrew Eccles)

Last night, Rachel McLaren (seen above in a publicity shot for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater) nailed The Evolution of A Secured Feminine--Camille A. Brown's virtuosic character solo. Brown is inimitable, but McLaren now has added her own brand of sass to the swift-moving piece, set to songs by Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter and Nancy Wilson. She made me stop and think how tricky it is for one dancer to try to hold the big City Center stage whose audience expects to see the Ailey corps fan out and fill it with energy and charm. McLaren, with her fashion model looks and razor-sharp style, gets the solo's attitude and variable timing down. She knows when to click into place, when to ease the moment, and never makes the movements look mechanical--which can happen if you are just rushing them without animating them. She luxuriates in Evolution, and so we do, too. The audience loved her. I hope you get to see her this Ailey season.

The zooming Kyle Abraham now joins the Ailey pantheon with his upbeat ensemble, Another Night, and shows he can work into that time-honored big stage-filling tradition. Set to Art Blakey's heady play on Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia," this piece opens with slinky lead dancer Jacqueline Green unfurling long limbs into smoky environs and proceeds to explode with kicking, twirling, windmilling Ailey dynamos. Abraham's choreography doesn't seem to resonate from inside these bodies yet--with the fleeting exception of Renaldo Gardner's fun turn in the spotlight. Some similar flashes of interest go by in just that--lightning flashes. Zip, zip, gone. (Hey, can we see more of that? No? Oh, well...) Hope Boykin nicely stirs an already bubbling pot and gives us glimpses of a real person--not just a dancer stand-in for a person--without distracting from the overall action. Another Night is not the killer piece Abraham could give the Ailey troupe. Bring it, Kyle.
Jacqueline Green leads the cast of Kyle Abraham's Another Night (photo by Paul Kolnik)

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater continues its New York City Center season through December 30. For information on remaining performances and the company's upcoming US tour, click here.

New York City Center
55th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues), Manhattan

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