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Review and Photo Essay: ‘[Alvin Ailey] Had Me In a State of Awe’

Jair Hilburn, Editor-In-Chief

Ever since, I was little my mom would always try to get me to go to an Alvin Ailey show. For someone reason, I never did, but after their opening night at Fox Theatre, I wish I went to every show she invited me to.

The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater had given me an experience that I never had before. From beginning to end, the performance had me in a state of awe from the way they communicated with the audience without saying a word.

The opening number “Divining” set the tone for the for the whole performance: this show was going to be filled with excellence. While I wasn’t expecting to see it open with a soloist, it set the bar so high. Soloist Jacquelin Harris stood in front of a packed house and made the room fall silent the moment she made her first movement.

When the other remaining dancers joined her on stage, the power of the performance grew with it. The company dancers were so unified that they seemed to move as one. Not one person missed a beat, and oddly enough, they managed to compliment each other even though they were doing the same movements at certain parts.

“Cry” was the second section of the performance, and it is one I replay in my head to this day. The entire section was performed by soloist Jacqueline Green – who did an outstanding job performing Alvin Ailey’s choreography.

Growing up, I’ve seen people perform solos, but they start to flatline after two minutes. Green however maintained to keep me interested from beginning to end. On a stage a big as the one at Fox Theatre, it would seem difficult to command stage alone, but Green made it seem effortless. At one point, I expected other dancers to come out, but I was hoping they wouldn’t because Green’s movements were crisp, clean and flowed.

Without a doubt, she earned her roses.

Following Green’s flawless performance was my favorite part of the whole night: “Ode” – which “is a flower on the grave of the innocent victims of gun violence and a meditation on the beauty of fragility of life” as it’s said in the program.

This piece is consists of six Black men dancers, a flower backdrop and a raw piano for accompaniment, and this simplicity is key. From one of the dancers moving his body along with the keys on the piano to the lighting of the backdrop, this entire piece was art in motion. Seeing these group of men perform this piece almost brought me to tears.

By the time it was over, I was stuck in a state of amazement and melancholy.

To end the night, the company performed “Ailey Revealed.” It was my third time seeing this piece, and each time, I realize why it’s viewed as Ailey’s masterpiece. With the use of negro spirituals and African rhythms, the entire piece feels like an ode to Black culture.

Overall, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater company delivered a show unlike any other. It’s definitely not one I will forget anytime soon, and one I recommend everyone see while they can. It was a show I wished would never end.

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