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Published on March 5th, 2011 | by thevyne

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Alvin Ailey Dance Theater: 52 Years and Still A “Revelation”

By Keesha Boyd

It doesn’t matter how many times I see them perform, I’m always at the edge of my seat when the talented dancers of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater hit the stage. This past weekend was no exception as the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater graced the stage of the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. What made this performance so special (besides celebrating the birthday of a dear friend and Vyne reader – shout out to N. Bolt!) was the fact that this is Judith Jamison’s last season as Artistic Director and the company is celebrating 50 years of performing their signature piece, Revelations, choreographed by none other than the late, great Alvin Ailey himself.

If you’ve not seen the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater perform before, you have no idea what you’re missing so let me try to describe the feeling. Basically, being a trained dancer myself, it’s hard to sit still when they are performing. On the one hand you’re mesmerized by their power, endurance, clean lines and rhythmic curves and on the other hand you just want to run on stage and swing your hips and arms left, right and center in unison with them—or is that just me? While watching the piece “Sally Forth”, featuring Linda Celeste Sims, Ghrai DeVore, Rosalyn Deshauteurs, Demetia Hopkins and Constance Stamatiou. I felt like I was transported to some alternate universe where the only means of communication was through movement and I, like every audience member there that evening, sat in silence determined to decode what the dancers were saying to us. This piece alone said “I am woman hear me roar” like no piece I’ve ever seen. Between the vivid colors of the costumes and the tribal yet refined choreography of Chistopher L. Huggins, it was absolutely breath taking.

The performance ended with a film tribute to Alvin Ailey and the classic piece, “Revelations”. Just as the film ended, the company sashayed back and forth across the stage performing the familiar choreography of “Revelations” while the moving spiritual hymns of “Wade in the Water” and “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham” got everyone clapping and swaying.

The night ended with the Kimmel Center hosting a special reception (with fab smoked salmon hor d’ oeuvres I might add) to honor the dancers and Judith Jamison. Some of the distinguished Philadelphia guests in attendance included Kimmel Center President and CEO, Anne Ewers, State Senator Vincent Hughes (husband of Sheryl Lee Ralph) and Urban League of Philadelphia President and CEO, Patricia A. Coulter. Also in attendance, Judith’s tap teacher from when she was a little girl growing up in Philadelphia (who also happens to be Vincent Hughes’ mother) and the soon to be new Artistic Director, who will succeed Judith Jamison, Robert Battle. All in all, the evening was fabulous and the cherry on top was the sheer enjoyment of posing for a picture with the incomparable force of inspiration who I’m proud to call Soror, Judith Jamison.

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