1/1/20 O&A NYC DANCE/ REVIEW: City Of Rain- Camille A. Brown Reaches Forward To Revisit The Past

By Walter Rutledge 

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater company premiere of Camille A. Brown’s City Of Rain took place on Tuesday, December 17. The ensemble work for ten dancers was originally choreographed in 2010 for her own company Camille A. Brown & Dancers. This rendering is more a reimagining than a reconstruction; and Brown takes this opportunity to retool the work to reflect her present esthetic. Unlike her earlier two offerings for the Ailey repertoire, The Evolution of a Secured Feminine (2007, AAADT company premiere 2010), The Groove To Nobody’s Business (2007) and her 2014 Bessie Award winning (Outstanding Production) Mr. TOL. E. RAncE, this revived work is less storyline driven dance theatre and more a movement dominated abstract narrative.

City of Rain is dedicated to Greg “Blyes” Boomer, Brown’s friend who died from a debilitating illness. Boomer kept the details of his situation private, and as he became more incapacitated friends were unable to effectively intercede on his behalf. Choreographer Brown has approached the work from a place of reflection, reverence and respect creating a fitting dance elegy for Boomer.

Brown’s signature style has become as recognizable and individual as a visual artist’s brushstrokes. City of Rain Brown emphasizes her keen and developed understanding of spatial design and strong choreographic form. The work is a barometer to Brown’s growth as a dance maker, storyteller and activists.

From the opening Brown’s subtle use of spatial design came to the forefront. Dancers Jeroboam Bozeman, Patrick Coker, Solomon Dumas and Yannick LeBrun flacked each other center stage in a spatially balanced four cornered circle. Coker broke the harmonious stillness with a solo filled with an uneasy sense of foreboding, which was amplified in the proceeding solo by Dumas.

Brown divided the quartet into two groups. Each coupling (one downstage the other upstage) moved with a slightly different time signature and punctuation. The dichotomy introduced one of her signature movement elements; the use of polyrhythms based on principles prevalent in sub-Saharan African music and dance. German dance pioneer Mary Wigman explored this device in the early part of the 20th century. 

Her diasporic use of multiple rhythmic movement patterns simultaneously has become a Brown trademarks. When six female dancers (Belen Indhira Pereyra, Jacquelin Harris, Courtney Celeste Spears, Jacqueline Green, Jessica Amber Picknett, and Danica Paulos) entered a harmonious chorus of movement engulfed the stage in a rich polyrhythmic visual tapestry. Her ability to incorporate syncopated rhythms through foot stomps and clapping intensified the polyrhythmic experience.

In City Of Rain she fearlessly attacked Two Way Dream, composer Jonathan Melville Pratt’s original melodic music score. Here Brown was able to create her own music/movement addendum- a dance driven visual “choreo-chorus”. Unison brought the work to a collective conclusion. Brown manipulated the use of level throughout; which helped to delineate the work’s visual focal point.

Here, the group danced in a slightly crouched position as a single dancer would rise up and move against the tide; then disappear back into the linear river of movement, while another artist emerged to take her place. Finally, the entire group capitulated to the unison and as the lights and sound faded the dancers began to melt into the floors. It was as if they had reached the final level of dealing with death… acceptance.

Reimaging a former work doesn’t always result in recreating the original emotional intent and public reaction. In City Of Rain Brown was able to use her present day prospective to reach forward to revisit the past. The one consideration that might enhanced the audience’s experience would be the addition of program notes.

This is the last week to see the New York City Center fall season of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. There are two more opportunities to see Camille A. Brown’s City Of Rain, Wednesday, January 1 at 7:30pm and Sunday, January 5 at 3pm. For tickets and schedule information visit ailey.org.    

Photographs of City of Rain cast by Paul Kolnik

 

 

 

12/8/19 O&A NYC DANCE: A Conversation With Yannick LeBrun- Ailey’s Danseur Noble

By Walter Rutledge 

A danseur noble is a male dancer who projects great nobility of character. A dancer who performs at the highest theatrical level combining exceptional grace, technique and strength. In a prior review I referred to Ailey principal dancer Yannick LeBrun as a danseur noble. It was not one performance or one season that brought me to that conclusion, but a career collective. Continue reading

3/4/19 O&A NYC WHATS HAPPENING THIS WEEK: March 4- March 10, 2019

Well March has come in like a lion. Snow and frigid temperatures are in the immediate forecast, but that has never stopped New Yorkers from having a great time. This week we are dancing north, south, east and Westside. Art from Museum Mile to Flatbush Avenue; and cutting edge theatre in Broadway to the Bronx. Here are a few of the many events happening in the city that never sleeps, guaranteed to keep you Out and About. Continue reading

4/9/18 O&A NYC DANCE: Lloyd Knight- In His Zone

Lloyd Knight, principal dancer with Martha Graham Dance Company, is in his zone. He  joined the Graham Company in 2005 and was promoted to soloist in 2009. In 2014 hard work, diligence and appreciation for choreography Knight simply defines as, “art” was rewarded with a promotion to principal dancer.  On Wednesday April 11th the Martha Graham Dance Company will begin a four performance New York City season at New York City Center. O&A NYC Editor in Chief Walter Rutledge sat down with Lloyd for what has become our annual pre-season chat. Continue reading

5/2/17 O&A NYC DANCE REVIEW: Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) presented their annual New York City season April 19, 20 and 21 at New York City Center. The performances marked the sixth season since the company’s much anticipated return after a seven-year hiatus. This new re-configured DTH, under the artistic direction of former company principal dancer Virginia Johnson, continues to mature into a new and important dance voice, while staying true to its founding principles. Continue reading

4/20/17 O&A NYC DANCE: A Conversation With Francesca Harper

By Walter Rutledge

Choreographer Francesca Harper discusses her new ballet System prior to the New York premiere by Dance Theatre of Harlem on Friday, April 20th at New York City Center.
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12/27/16 O&A NYC DANCE: A Conversation With Kyle Abraham

By Walter Rutledge

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Untitled America, Kyle Abraham’s latest work for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, brings to light the revolving door of the U.S. penal system. The work had its official premiered on December 7th during the Ailey’s New York City Center Season November 30 through December 31. Recently O&A NYC had an opportunity to sit down with this talented artist to discuss the work, his choreographic process and philosophy. Continue reading

12/2/16 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: A Conversation With Solomon Dumas

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Solomon Dumas is living his dream. As one of the newest members of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT), Dumas is making his New York City Center debut during the 2016 Ailey season November 30 through December 31. Dumas was bitten by the dance bug at age 12 after attending AileyCamp Chicago. Continue reading

11/25/16 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Revelations Excerpts- Hollywood Palace (1968)

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The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed two excerpts from his masterwork Revelations on the weekly television variety show The Hollywood Palace (1968). The episode hosted by Diahann Carroll helped give the then fledgling dance company national attention. The cast included Judith Jamison, George Faison, Kelvin Rotardier, and Dudley Williams.  Continue reading

8/6/16 (REPOST) Tribute To Dudley Williams: A Song For You (1986)

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In 1972, Alvin Ailey created the elegiac solo Love Songs for dancer Dudley Williams. The  sixteen minute solo, composed in three sections includes A Song for You by Donny Hathaway; Poppies by Nina Simone; and He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother by Donny Hathaway. Many  thought of the work as the male equivalent of the female solo Cry (1971). Continue reading