Originally published in SunPost on February 24,2011
Last weekend at the Adrienne Arsht center, the Ziff Opera house was filled to the brim with a buzzing, vibrant, and mixed audience. People of diverse ages and backgrounds, races and relationship to dance converged in participation and anticipation of an evening of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
After the show, I overheard two older ladies say: “That rapper thing was phenomenal; it was so current and modern.” They were referring to “Love Stories,” a 2004 choreography by Judith Jamison with Robert Battle and Rennie Harris. Jamison is the retiring artistic director of the historic African-American company, arguably the most successful modern dance troupe ever; Battle takes the helm later this year, and is a Miami native. It was a journey through a multitude of relationships starting with a powerful solo and moving through different configurations. It had a soundscape of pulsating House and hip-hop beats that struck deep chords and visceral channels. The choreography was signature Rennie; with complex entrances and exits, Afro-Brazilian references and truthful, authentic b-boying and b-girling. The choreography was a symphony of hard-core physicality and emotional transparency. Key to Harris’ work are moments of improvisation and solo flair. The company members known for emotional depth and storytelling were given a perfect platform to shine in an urban, contemporary and social context.
The audience delighted in unexpected bursts of vogueing, locking, and uprocking, which offered a textured palette of attitude and humor.
One of the standout performers of the evening was Miami native and New World School of the Arts Alumnus Jamar Roberts. He opened the show in “Love Stories” and soloed as King Balthazar in “Three Black Kings.” His solo during “I Wanna Be Ready” was so full of nuance and tenderness, so skilled and perfect that the audience felt hushed and seduced.
A poignant and important moment was the “Celebrating Revelations at 50” film, referring to Ailey’s signature masterpiece, “Revelations.” I noticed that several of the audience members around me were from other countries, notably Brazil and France. The film offered an in depth journey into the American South, our shared American history of racism, segregation, and struggle and contextualized the genius of Alvin Ailey in an historic and political context. We all felt moved and better for it.
And Now, Dance!
More great moments await the Miami audience this weekend at the Colony Theater when the Dance Now! Ensemble led by Hannah Baumgarten and Diego Salterini, bring us “Six Characters.” They describe it as “a modern twist on a classic Pirandello Play.” The Pirandello Play — which offers the play within a play structure and blurs the line between, madness, absurdity, and reason — will be fun to see staged and brought to life in the Dance Now! brand. This performance also highlights the south Florida premiere of collaborating and guest choreographer Tandy Beal. This performance is Program Two of Dance Now! Ensemble’s Season.
“Six Character” at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd., February 26 at 8:00 p.m. and February 27 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets range from $10 to $35