We went to an Alvin Ailey performance yesterday. I love the whole Ailey premise and find their dancers the most engaging, most athletic, most truly alive bunch of people on the planet who make their living by moving around quickly on their feet.
Included in the program was Revelations, their signature piece which I've seen at least a dozen times. It never disappoints, even if you know each movement, each line of the gospel hymns that accompany the piece. The costuming and staging are as timeless as the dance itself. And its message, its glorious celebration of the spirit, is as the day Ailey choreographed it.
I loved one of the other pieces, choreographed by Twyla Tharp who seems to have a penchant for keeping things moving at a thumping, athletic pace that would leave mere mortals gasping for breath. We sat close to the stage and at several points in the dancing, dancers would whirl quickly, each followed by a spray of sweat flung in an arc around their bodies as they moved.
The conversations around us at the theatre were interesting, too. The audience was so pumped with anticipation, clapping started before the curtain had risen. And we were caught, all of us, taking a collective breath each time one of the male dancers did what appeared to be a height-defying leap.
Beauty. Ultimately, it's about beauty. And that's always the basis for a great conversation.
It's the Alvin Ailey company's fiftieth anniversary. Here's to 2009. May it be their best year yet.