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Macaulay on Alvin Ailey Season

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/05/arts/dan...1&ref=dance

Well, this sounds like a gala that makes some of the others look pretty ridiculous. I may go to one of the performances if I can find out when they have live music. Plus I've never seen the Ailey Company live. I'd been thinking of going to Limon tonight, but the Joyce offers perhaps even more discomfort than City Center, so I don't know. But Limon is just up the street and bargain tickets.

I was glad to read this Macaulay piece, which is one of the best things I've seen by him. Not one use of the word 'supreme' or even 'incomparable' (I don't think.)

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I was glad to read this Macaulay piece, which is one of the best things I've seen by him. Not one use of the word 'supreme' or even 'incomparable' (I don't think.)

It sounds like a drinking game: a shot or beer every time he does.

Or, in the corporate world, "Buzzword Bingo".

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Plus, I decided on the Ailey, although the tickets with Marsalis were mostly sold. Now this I think, is selling well. To get a reasonably priced seat, I had to wait till Jan. 2. and will hear the Sweet Honey in the Rock a capella female Gospel group, which ought to be divine.

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Hi. I went to see the Ailey Company on Fri. evening. The program started w. Memoria, with Linda Celeste Sims dancing the lead. This is one of my favorite Ailey dances, and the company looked great. Next up was the premiere of Go In Grace, featuring a live performance by Sweet Honey in the Rock. I had never seen Sweet Honey before. I really enjoyed their singing. The lyrics were very meaningful, and the singers were fantastic. Unfortunately, the choreography was simplistic and uninteresting. The last piece fo the evening was Revelations. I've seen it many times before. The standout for me was Clifton Brown in the I Wanna Be Ready Section. I'll be going back several times this season, although the ticket prices have become incredibly high. By the way, does anyone know what has happened to Alicia Graf, my favorite Ailey dancer? She is no longer listed in the program as a company member.

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I'm old enough to remember when Revelations was always performed by a live performer. Although these days big gala events leave me mostly cold, reading about this one left me with a pang of regret that I wasn't there.

Just one quibble: Jessye Norman solemn?

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Thanks, all. I'll be seeing 'Go in Grace', 'Fiesta Barocca' and 'Suite Otis'. Abatt, do you also know about the 2nd and 3rd of these. I was limited to when I could go because I'll be out of town though the biggest chunk of this. I still think it will be worth it on many levels, not least of which Jan. 2 is a depressing sort of day almost invariably.

Mashinka, do you mean a 'live musical performer' for 'Revelation'? Was there once a time when the smaller companies always had live music? I mean the 'big smaller companies', because the little performance spaces with new young companies always had recorded music. Sometimes this isn't terrible, I remember solos by Robert Stryker (sp.?) in the 70s and 80s that were just fine. One of these was to a score by Steve Reich, which I thought was just dynamite at 19, but would never want to hear again, as it depended purely on novelty and trendiness.

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Thanks, all. I'll be seeing 'Go in Grace', 'Fiesta Barocca' and 'Suite Otis'. Abatt, do you also know about the 2nd and 3rd of these.

Hi. Fiesta Barocca will be a world premiere. I know nothing about the work; however, I have seen other works by the same choreographer at NYCB. I've never seen Suite Otis. Looking forward to the entire season, especially the performances w. the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

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Patrick, I seem to remember a live singer for Revelations, but I'm going back decades with that memory. I've only seen the company perform in the UK and the situation back then was that the musicians union made it compulsory to have live musicians accompanying ballet performances, though I don't remember if that included visiting companies. The situation changed in the '80's when union power was suppressed under Thatcherism.

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Ailey in the '80s, before our version of Thatcherism in the US, the Ailey company, as well as other smaller companies (e.g., Paul Taylor, Dance Theater of Harlem), had live music at all performances.

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...

Hi. Fiesta Barocca will be a world premiere. I know nothing about the work; however, I have seen other works by the same choreographer at NYCB. I've never seen Suite Otis. Looking forward to the entire season, especially the performances w. the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

Yes, I have also noticed it is being called a world premiere, yet the company danced it in Kansas City* on November 13 (this was a performance for school children):

...The last piece was a new addition to the Ailey repertory, Festa Barocca, choreographed by acclaimed Italian choreographer, Mauro Bigonzetti. This long piece (44 minutes), had several movements set to operatic music in contemporary baroque style. The dance integrated classical dance moves, inspired by court dances, with athletic modern dance moves to present an almost satirical (and sometimes humorous) caricature of performance dance. This piece was almost reflective in its self-referencing pastiche, as the dance called on many dance styles and juxtaposed them in opposition with each other. Performed in colorful satin skirts on both male and female dancers, the complex choreography was often as challenging to watch as it was to perform, because of the concentration of complicated moves in a small amount of space and time, creating a flurry of activity. An unusual piece, it not only displays a great deal of dancers' technical ability, but also seems to present a commentary on the evolution of dance into a very technical art form.

Regarding Suite Otis, years ago it was the music (and, of course, the Ailey dancers) that dominated the choreography, but Otis Redding was easily wonderful enough!

* http://www.kcdance.com/Dancing/Ailey_Nov2008.asp

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Hi. I went to see the Ailey Company on Fri. evening. The program started w. Memoria, with Linda Celeste Sims dancing the lead. This is one of my favorite Ailey dances, and the company looked great. Next up was the premiere of Go In Grace, featuring a live performance by Sweet Honey in the Rock. I had never seen Sweet Honey before. I really enjoyed their singing. The lyrics were very meaningful, and the singers were fantastic. Unfortunately, the choreography was simplistic and uninteresting. The last piece fo the evening was Revelations. I've seen it many times before. The standout for me was Clifton Brown in the I Wanna Be Ready Section. I'll be going back several times this season, although the ticket prices have become incredibly high. By the way, does anyone know what has happened to Alicia Graf, my favorite Ailey dancer? She is no longer listed in the program as a company member.

abatt, it appears that Graf has retired from performing due to injury. So sad, I felt that last season she was really starting to look comfortable in the Ailey company style. She danced a "Fix Me Jesus" that was absolutely transcendent.

I'll also be going to Ailey several times this season, I really like the Bejart Firebird, Night Creature, Pas de Duke, and I can never get enough of The River - even without pointe shoes!

See you there.

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Ailey in the '80s, before our version of Thatcherism in the US, the Ailey company, as well as other smaller companies (e.g., Paul Taylor, Dance Theater of Harlem), had live music at all performances.

Oh dear, this does give pause--BAD pause. I didn't know it was quite that dire, and this is a truly serious symptom that it could have changed so severely.

Drb, thanks for the info on the works. That gives me some initial images already. I'm looking forward to it.

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I saw the new piece, Fiesta Baroca, a few days ago. Unfortunately, I think the negative review it received in the NY Times is pretty accurate. The choreography is thin, and the piece is WAY too long to maintain the viewer's interest. There is a lot of pointless, rapid arm movement. The best parts are the 2 pdd, which are very acrobatic in nature. On a positive note, the costumes were very colorful, and I enjoyed listening to the recorded opera music to which the dance is set. Also on a positive note, I enjoyed the first piece on the program, Suite Otis. I didn't stick around for the final piece, Revelations, since I have seen it so many times in the past. The audience applauded both Suite Otis and Fiesta with hearty applause. In Fiesta, the Ailey dancers are so much better than the material they are given to perform.

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I saw the new piece, Fiesta Baroca, a few days ago. Unfortunately, I think the negative review it received in the NY Times is pretty accurate. The choreography is thin, and the piece is WAY too long to maintain the viewer's interest. There is a lot of pointless, rapid arm movement. The best parts are the 2 pdd, which are very acrobatic in nature. On a positive note, the costumes were very colorful, and I enjoyed listening to the recorded opera music to which the dance is set. Also on a positive note, I enjoyed the first piece on the program, Suite Otis. I didn't stick around for the final piece, Revelations, since I have seen it so many times in the past. The audience applauded both Suite Otis and Fiesta with hearty applause. In Fiesta, the Ailey dancers are so much better than the material they are given to perform.

Sounds like we were at the same performance, but I don't remember seeing you there - am I losing it? I saw that program on 12/14 (eve) and then saw the first Ailey & Ellington program last night. Agree about Suite Otis & Festa Barocca, I enjoyed the first piece, loved both the pdd and the costumes in Festa Barocca but could have skipped the rest. And it was definitely too long. The live music for the Ellington program was wonderful and brought a different energy to the performance. Attendance on Sunday was pretty good, but ast night it was packed! The gallery was closed but the rest of the theater was sold out except for the last row or 2 in the extreme sides of the rear mezz.

I stayed for Revelations both times- I can never see it often enough. It would be worth it to me, even if only for the sheer joy the dancers exhibit in the Move, Members, Move section however there is usually wonderful dancing throughout. On Sunday Constance Stamatiou & Anthony Burell danced Fix Me Jesus - they were new to me and did a surprisingly good job considering that I thought I'd seen the definitive version from Graf & Roberts last season. Last night it was Mr & Ms Sims, who were trancsendant. In fact, last night could have been subtitled Linda Celeste Sims night. Renee Robinson withdrew from the program so Sims danced all of her roles (except the umbrella woman in Revelations) as well as her own. It was remarkable to see her in Night Creature, then excerpts from Caravan, Pas De Duke, Three Black Kings and finally, in the Fix Me section from Revelations and then leading the finale & encore. It was quite a marathon. ALL of the dancing has been fabulous this season, in adition to Ms Sims I especially enjoyed Courtney Brene Corbin as the umbrella woman both nights, Clifton Brown as the second "Sinner Man" last night (amazing series of jetes, among other things), Hope Boykin in everything she did and I love Yannick LeBrun more every time I see him.

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[sounds like we were at the same performance, but I don't remember seeing you there - am I losing it? I saw that program on 12/14 (eve)

Oops. You're not losing it. I thought you were going to the 12/14 matinee. I didn't realize you were at the evening performance; otherwise I would have looked for you. (I was in the mid mezz) Oh well. I will be attending the Ailey - Ellington performances on 12/19 and 12/20 evenings. I'm not surprised that the performances featuring the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra sold very well. It's almost like getting 2 events for the price of one. I agree w. you about Linda Celeste Sims. She is presently my favorite female dancer in the company.

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Doubt that I'm going to be a big Ailey fan, on the other hand tonight's program had no actual Ailey piece in it. But 'Suite Otis' delivered what I was looking for to an entertaining degree, in a kind of Broadway way, makes you think of Bob Fosse too.

I'd gone for 'Go in Grace', which has the a capella Sweet Honey on the Rocks doing simple movement (and very nicely) as well as singing beautifully and interacting with the dancers; this is imaginative, but I thought the piece could have easily been made into something great, or considerably better. None of the dancing by the real dancers was that extraordinary, and I didn't really find any of the songs so beautiful either, although they sing well. I kept thinking some instrumental accompaniment would not have hurt, but I guess they don't do that. Had good moments, though, and for musicians and other performers on stage together, it sure beat that production of 'Company' with saxophone players who had to, but could not, also act. kind of thing that needed opening up more, like the big sexy dancing in 'Suite Otis', and it never really did. I've gone backward, since I nearly left after 'Festa Barocca', which I found to be one of the trashiest things I've ever seen, good athletic movement to the cheapest effect. I don't even especially revere Handel among great masters, but they could have used the Collected Hits of the Silver Convention, for all the 'baroque' you got. It was the nightmare-dream-ballet for me, and painful when you'd think of Balanchine's Concerto Barocco, but even Paul Taylor's Esplanada, most of which I don't care much for, comes to life in the last piece, when the leaps are so far they've gained in weight and the girl dancers are caught as if Rubens women--this is very cool. There's nothing cool in 'Festa Barocca', just a lot of squiggly, cutesey stuff. The first 'pas de deux' is in purple day-glo bathing suit for her and electric-aqua swim trunks for him. Gwynnen Taylor Jones was like some summer camp lifeguard. Lots of garish satin dresses for the women, but the men wore just the skirts and were topless, and they looked ridiculous like this.

A nice evening, not great except for a little B'way electricity in the Redding piece. I've a limited dance budget, so once will probably be enough for a good long while, given the competition.

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