By Walter Rutledge
Outstanding performers have always been the hallmark of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Dancers that consistently test the technical and artistic boundaries of modern dance remain a fundamental part of founder Alvin Ailey’s continuing legacy. Artists Carmen DeLavalallade, Dudley Williams, Judith Jamison, Miguel Godreau, Linda Kent, Sara Yarborough, Sarita Allen, Gary deLoatch, Desmond Richardson, and Renee Robinson all possessed an innate ability beyond technique, a God given gift that unfortunately cannot be taught. When the stage lights hit these special individuals it is refracted into dazing, flawless, pure light that pulls you in… moth to flame. Celeste Linda Sims is pure light.
Sims’ obvious physical beauty only accentuates her captivating stage persona and versatility. This woman, who is surprisingly dominative in stature, has a boundless presence that is barely contained behind the proscenium arch. A native of the “Boogie Down” Bronx and an eighteen year veteran of the company Sims is living proof of the power of perseverance and dedication to the craft.
In Ronald K Brown’s Grace, she has an authority and command that is inviting yet quietly regal. The work deals with souls moving toward heaven and the spirits that protect them on their journey. Here Sims’ portrayal of an angelic vision is sheer type casting.
Sims and Antonio Douthit-Boyd attacked the opening duet in Wayne McGregor’s Chroma with visceral sensuality. Her performance in the solo section was as much about what she doesn’t do that draws you in. In both the duet and solo Sims makes the rigorous technical demands appear secondary, effortlessly becoming moving music.
Her interpretation of the poetic duet Fix Me Jesus from Ailey’s signature work Revelations had a powerful lyricism that evoked memories of Sara Yarborough. She performed with an artistic restraint that made her a conduit for the choreography. In contrast, Pas de Duke reveals her competitive, and playfully feline side. Trading technical barbs that were interspersed with enticing hip rolls and beguiling glances.
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will be performing through January 3 at New York City Center. Sims will appear with 29 other brilliant dancers, performing new works and audience favorites. For a list of programs, show times or to purchase ticket visit alvinailey.org.
In Photo: 1, 2 & 5) Linda Celeste Sims 3) Antonio Douthit-Boyd and Sims 4) Glen Allen Sims and Linda Celeste Sims
Photo Credit: 1&2) Andrew Eccles 3) Paul Kolnik 4) Nan Melville 5) Lois Greenfield