It is not often you see such an audience response for contemporary dance, a standing ovation full of cheers and woops that would not be out of place at a pop concert. Perhaps this is partly down to the youthful demographic Ailey’s work attracts, but it is also due to the sense of sheer euphoric joy that the companies most famous piece, ‘Revelations’, creates.
Revelations is set to a soundtrack of stirring gospel rhythms which, in Ailey’s own words, evoke the cultural heritage of the African-American. The piece swiftly moves through snap shots of various emotions, climaxing with a powerfully joyful celebration that expresses all the atmosphere of the black gospel church.
It is not just the ensembles final presentation that makes this an evening of dance to be treasured; current Artistic director, Judith Jamison’s ‘Hymn’ is a tribute to the founder of the company, Alvin Ailey. This piece is one of the most perfect introductions to a triple bill I have witnessed. The biographical nature of the performance allows one to watch the dance whilst learning about the company through the use of voiceover, almost like watching a Hollywood blockbuster with the audio-commentary switched on. These elements come together to create a spiritual and educational introduction to the origins and ethics of this now world famous troupe.
Alvin Ailey is a celebration of the spirit that possesses the intimacies of contemporary dance without being afraid to step into the commercial.