Arts dance review

A Timeless Classic: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs for Celebrity Series of Boston

AAADT celebrates the 50th anniversary of Ailey’s Revelations

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs Alvin Ailey's Revelations
Photo courtesy of Robert Torres

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) 

Presented by Celebrity Series of Boston 

May 3, 2024 

Boch Center Wang Theatre 


From May 2 to May 5, 2024, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) performed at the Boch Center as the concluding program for the Celebrity Series of Boston’s 2023-2024 season. The repertoire for the May 3rd performance included Alonzo King’s Following the Subtle Current Upstream, Ronald K. Brown’s Dancing Spirit, and Alvin Ailey’s classic Revelations. Although each work had distinct choreography and background music, what brought them together was the dancers’ stunning movements and dynamic energies. 

Following The Subtle Current Upstream was notable for the dancer’s effortless movements, a reflection of the title’s reference to water. The dancers’ movements flowed well, especially their pirouettes. What made the dance mesmerizing was how natural the performers were, as their movements had a slight improvisational feel. Despite having individual movements, the group looked cohesive without seeming overly rehearsed. 

Although the dance did not follow a traditional melody, the percussive effects and the variations in tempo and rhythm made the dance energetic. All of this energy built up to the climax, in which the lights focus on the center and shine on the solo dancer, who suddenly froze in a pose. Right after the end of the performance, the audience broke into a loud round of applause followed by cheers. Overall, the choreography's dynamic and cyclical nature perfectly captured the idea of the soul’s power and resiliency from a passage in the Bhagavad Gita, which was found in the program book. 

Next was Dancing Spirit, a work that felt slow and uneventful in the beginning. Over time, however, the piece developed momentum and became more engaging. One memorable part of Dancing Spirit was the female soloist’s part—she danced freely in circles, and her wide skirt and long cuffs had a billowy quality. Another aspect that made this work compelling to watch was the coexistence of the bursts of unrestrained energy combined with elegance. This interesting dichotomy was present when the group quickly rotated their heads, which created a dizzying effect that was captivating at the same time. Towards the end, the quick-paced jazz music contributed to a lively atmosphere that made dancing feel enticing, whether it was the side-to-side movements or their smooth grooves. 

The last work was Revelations, which began with “The Pilgrim of Sorrow,” a movement that had an amazing opening because of the group’s engrossing pose and formation. In “I’ve ’Buked,” the entire group was close together, their arms stretching outwards and faces staring upwards towards the light as if they were searching for spiritual guidance. The movement was pensive for its slow and graceful nature, which made the dance emotionally moving. Likewise, the intimate duet in “Fix Me, Jesus” finely encapsulated vulnerability at its darkest times, and the gospel music helped to further reinforce this theme. 

After the first segment was “Take Me to Water,” a section that significantly contrasts the previous one for being more light-hearted and animated. “Wade in the Water” stood out for using long pieces of blue and white cloth that dancers repeatedly moved up and down to represent the movement of waves, with dancers moving along to the catchy and upbeat lyrics. On the other hand, “I Wanna Be Ready” was iconic for the contemplative and impressive solo, as the male dancer appeared to be levitating off the ground. 

Revelations closed off well with “Move, Members, Move” as the last segment of the work. In “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham,” the last movement, the dancers clapped to the music’s beat, creating a ripple effect in which the entire audience came together to clap along, allowing the experience to feel more interactive. As a whole, watching Revelations was refreshing because of Ailey’s creative and original incorporation of African American music, like gospel and blues, into modern dance, making Revelations a timeless work worth watching again. 

From Alvin Ailey’s 50-year-old Revelations to 21st-century works, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s performance was unforgettable for exploring the wide array of emotions and experiences found throughout the ups and downs of life.