By Walter Rutledge
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater gave a cautious debut performance of Paul Taylor’s tango infused Piazzolla Caldera, but now the Company has thrown caution to the wind. Set in a milonga (tango dance hall) this rich dance theatre work allowed the Ailey Company to really flex their dramatic muscle. Piazzolla Caldera has become the highlight of the 2015 New York City Center season showcasing the Ailey Company at their sultry best.
Linda Celeste Sims as the sexy, but unaccompanied siren danced with the right amount of vulnerability and steam. In the second movement she joined danseur noble Yannick Lebrun and Belen Pereyra in a rousing tango pas de trios. In the end Lebrun and Pereyra decide three is a crowd and leave Sims alone again.
Daniel Harder and Michael Francis McBride in the buddy duet wowed the audience. The lied back “after the dance” duet between two drunk and exhausted friends had subtle comedic touches that masked the athleticism and physicality of the section. Eventually the elegant Rachel McLaren and Jamar Roberts join them and the ensuing pas de quarte ends in repose as an ménage a quarte.
Throughout the work Taylor’s masterful manipulation of the movement and choreographic structure was as smooth as the best Argentine Fernet. In Escualo, the final section, he stays true to form by pairing five women and seven men resulting in dancehall magic. Taylor’s musicality and theatrical panache are perfectly paired with the nuevo tango music of renowned Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla (dubbed the world’s foremost composer of tango music) and Jerzy Petersburshki. The simple but extremely effective set and décor of hanging light fixtures coupled with Jennifer Tipton’s spot on lighting transport us to a steamy milonga.
Piazzolla Caldera is a winning combination of exciting music, outstanding choreography and exceptional performers. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater New York City Center season runs until January 3. For a complete performance schedule visit ailey.org.
In Photo: 1) Company 2) Linda Celeste Sims and Daniel Harder, Jamar Roberts, Jeroboam Bozeman, Renaldo Maurice, Colin Heyward, Michael Francis McBride 3)Belen Pereyra and Yannick Lebrun
Paul Kolnik photographer