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Event Review: Kimmel Center Presents Alvin Ailey's American Dance Theater

This Wednesday I had the privilege of attending the Philadelphia premiere of Kimmel Center presents: Alvin Ailey's American Dance Theatre  at the Merriam Theater. If you know anything about dance or the arts then you are well aware of the history of Alvin Ailey's Dance Theater, founded by the late great choreographer in 1958. Led by new artistic director Robert Battle, the troupe, touring with Battle for the first time, came close to selling out all three nights. Choreographer Robert Battle succeeded Judith Jamison as Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater after her departure on July 1, 2011. In announcing her selection, Ms. Jamison said that “choosing Robert Battle is the giant leap I want to take to ensure that this company stays vibrant in the future.” The Wednesday program featured acts from PAUL TAYLOR: Arden Court, ROBERT BATTLE: Takademe, Philadelphia's own, RENNIE HARRIS: Home and ALVIN AILEY: Revelations .
From beginning to end I was in AWE. The movements were fluid, the score was well selected, the message was clear and the energy was breathtaking. Even through his passing Ailey's original mission and vision were as vivid as the props the dancers flawlessly flaunted across the stage. The costumes were well designed and combined with all other elements of the performance this show more than lived up to my expectations. These pieces were meshed together but the show flowed smoothly. Such a great collection of major works.

 I don't want to give too much away because as an art lover-theater junkie-dance disciple I feel no review can do this experience justice; you must see it for yourself. I will tell you my favorite act was Revelations. And I'm not just saying this because it is one of Ailey's most popular works. A cultural classic whose score combined gospel and blues, I felt the story Ailey tried to depict of life as an African American in the South. Presented as the closing curtain, after Revelations the dancers received a standing ovation and I think I saw a tear or two from my guest. To hear about these acts and to actually see them live are two completely different experiences.

The troupe is on tour around the US and if you missed them this week you have to catch them when you can. Tonight was your last night to catch them in Philadelphia unfortunately the show is sold out. But don't pout, check out the website www.AlvinAiley.org for upcoming dates in surrounding cities.

-Nola Darling

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