Alvin Ailey Programme B: EN, The Call, Juba and Revelations at Sadler’s Wells
Combining the timeless classic Revelations with newer pieces EN, The Call and Juba, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre – with artistic director Robert Battle – presents rich and nuanced interpretations of the African American experience via movement.
To the potent beat of African percussion, classical music, folk, jazz and the passionate vivacity of gospel are juxtaposed with traditional native dance and modern ballet. Alvin Ailey’s cutting edge style comprises tremendous dynamism and versatility, with compositions designed, choreographed and performed with seamless excellence.
The vibrant drumbeat of Jakub Clupinski’s impassioned score accompanies Jessica Lang’s haunting piece EN – a philosophical study of destiny – in which fast-paced gyrations contrast with languorous meditative movement beneath an ethereal moon, connoting a struggle between tension and serenity. Again colligating moods, Bach’s esoteric chamber music, jazz (Mary Lou Williams) and contemporary sound (Asase Yaa Entertainment Group) accompany a melding of African, ballroom and modern dance – expounding a theme of soulful liberation – in Ronald K Brown’s The Call. Robert Battle’s Juba explodes in a powerful manifestation of ebullient energy. To the music of John Mackey, performers run, stomp, kick, fall, drag and bob as if possessed, alternating determination of purpose with a kind of ecstatic divine release of the soul.
A well-known masterpiece, the jubilant Revelations – about salvation, freedom and absolution – spans a spectrum of emotions from grief to pure joy: Pilgrim of Sorrow’s nude costumed dancers express sadness and yearning – a sense of being lost and vulnerable at the moment of birth and beyond. Subsequently clothed in white in Take Me to the Water, the figures are baptised in a “sea” of blue fabric. I Wanna Be Ready and Move, Members, Move continue the gospel theme, culminating with the vibrant tempo of Sinner Man.
Performances are impeccable as would be expected of the outstanding Alvin Ailey – the inspiring choreography is fearless, innovative and invigorating. Integral to the storylines, the costuming is vivid and aptly symbolic. Musical arrangements are brilliant in their ingenious fusing of genres – suggesting the tensions, paradoxes, dilemmas and joys of living.
An exciting and moving show, EN/The Call/Juba/Revelations are fascinating works individually, while together they coalesce superbly as a cohesive narrative as well as a visually magnificent and joyful tableau for lovers of dance.
Photo: Paul Kolnik
Alvin Ailey Programme B: EN, The Call, Juba and Revelations is at Sadler’s Wells from 5th until 13th September 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.