3/26/22 O&A NYC SATURDAY MORNING CONCERT: Paul Taylor’s Esplanade (1975)

An esplanade is an outdoor place to walk; in 1975 Paul Taylor, inspired by the sight of a girl running to catch a bus, created a masterwork based on pedestrian movement. Continue reading

3/21/22 O&A NYC DANCE: Francesca Harper Sets New Direction For Ailey II

By Walter Rutledge

The Ailey II season begins March 23 and run thru April 3 at the Ailey Citigroup Theater 405 west 55th Street at the corner of Ninth Avenue This is not only the company’s return to the theater since the pandemic, but also the debut season for the company’s new Artistic Director Francesca Harper. During the two-week season the company will offer 10 performances and present works by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) Artistic Director Robert Battle, internationally renowned choreographer William Forsythe, AAADT principal dancer Yannick Lebrun, Andrea Miller, and Harper. Continue reading

1/17/21 O&A NYC DANCE THEATRE: Only In The Darkness- Dance Of The Village Elders- Dance Of The Village Elders

By Walter Rutledge

The senior performing ensemble Dance Of The Village Elders performs Only In The Darkness You Can See The Stars. Based on their experiences during the turbulent Civil Rights Era. 

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12/21/21 O&A NYC MILESTONES: Happy Birthday George Faison

By Walter Rutledge

There is only one George Faison! Dancer, choreographer, teacher, director, playwright, social activist, entrepreneur and friend. George has been one of my inspirations and artistic standard bearers for most of my career. In 2017 the Ailey American Dance Theater presented an excerpt of Suite Otis, his iconic tribute to Otis Redding. Faison sat down to talk about this masterwork,  experiences in the Ailey Company and his arts aesthetic. Happy Birthday George.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will present an excerpt of George Faison’s masterwork Suite Otis at their New York City Center season opening night gala, Wednesday, November 29 2017. Choreographed in 1971 for the George Faison Universal Dance Experience the work joined the Ailey repertoire in 1977. 40 years after it’s Ailey debut Suite Otis continues to excite and entertain audiences with verve, aplomb, fleet footed technique and imaginative Euclidean storytelling.

The company will perform the finale section set to Otis Redding’s Tenderness. The full cast section reintroduces the dancers creating a visually exciting yet compelling epilog. Throughout the work Faison (the imperial storyteller) does what every choreographer should do- invites us into his vision and delivers with clarity, focus and impeccable choreographic timing.

Balletomanes still long for the return of old fashion honest storytelling- the hallmark of Ailey’s original company. In Suite Otis Faison’s articulate use of the dance narrative genre captures the majesty and universal humanity of both Otis Redding’s music and the black dance experience. This gave him a voice in an era when Black American dance and culture had started to becoming a global  force.

Suite Otis- George Faison

What Faison did (and continues to do) is to keep the dance/theatre aesthetic in the forefront of the arts conversation. Tenderness will be performed for one performance only on Wednesday, November 29 for tickets and a complete schedule of the five-week New York City season visit ailey.org.

12/13/21 O&A NYC DANCE REVIEW: Ailey Presents Two Premieres Offering Hope

By Walter Rutledge

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater began their 2021 fall New York City season December 1 at New York City Center. The annual holiday season usually runs five weeks ending with a festive New Year’s Eve finale. This highly anticipated return to live indoor performance (the first since 2019) will offer the public an abridged three-week season that runs through December 19, 2021.

The Company is presenting a total of eighteen works over eighteen days. The ambitious fall offering includes seven works by founder Alvin Ailey, five from Robert Battle, four new productions and two premieres by Battle and the company’s first resident choreographer Jamar Roberts. The recently retired company member, (Roberts last performance was during this season on December 9th) created a cathartic and holistic environment in the age of COVID designed to foster healing. 

Robert’s Holding Space, a twelve-member ensemble work, filled the space with what can be best described as “organized choreo-chaos”. The dancers performed the same movement, but in different time signatures and at different angles. Slowly the dancers begin moving in individual patterns forming duets, trios, and small groups. The multiple patterns, happening simultaneously, heighten the tension and pushed the audience to visually dart from one group and configuration to another.

Eventually the dancers formed three lines (stage right, stage left and center) these linear progressions provided a modicum of order while allowing the dancers to maintain their movement individuality. One distinct image Roberts used effectively had dancers balanced on a forced arch with the pelvis dramatically thrusted forward, giving the turns and extensions an off kilter look and a desolate feeling. Tim Hecker’s harrowing score and the atmospheric lighting by Brandon Stirling Baker created an austere and sober otherworld.

A large square frame supported by four dancers (one at each corner) appears upstage left making the proceeding section the most thought provoking. Filled with arresting imagery the dancers one at a time entered the space inside the cube/isolation chamber; mirroring the isolation many people faced at the height of the pandemic.

The series of solos evolved into character studies portraying angst, aloneness and frustration. These emotions permeated the tight and expressive movement embellished by open mouths, outstretched arms and reaching hands. Personal and introspective these psychodramas recalled Ana Sokolow’s Rooms, where inner city people living in proximity were still isolated and alone. Throughout, the raw and abandon movement was tempered by the dancer’s incredible control.

The lights changed from a cool darkness to warm amber in the last section, while the dancers reprised the movement from the opening section. This time the choreography was performed in unison. The chaos was replaced by a meditative synchrony symbolizing the beginning of the end of despair.

Holding Space is an ambitious undertaking. The strong introspective elements produced a cerebral, “thinking man’s” ballet. Roberts’ efforts were admirable, but needed more contrast. The combination of dark lighting, musical monotony, nuanced movement and protracted length caused the work to meander. 

One thing the company founder and its present artistic director have in common is an affinity for jazz music. Both artists understood/understand the fusion of function, form and style synonymous with jazz music and dance. From the beginning Ailey’s portrayal of the African American experience was acclaimed for the works universal consciousness.

Blues Suite (1958), his first work for the then newly established Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, is a fusion of modern dance, ballet, jazz, black vernacular dance and non-verbal storytelling. From the down-home feel of Backwaters Blues to the symphonic power of Ellington, the poetry of Parker and the lyric longing of Jarrett; Ailey created dances that captured the majesty of this great American art form.

An American art form born and reared by former slaves and their descendants in the speakeasies and brothels of New Orleans Storyville District. Sadly, Storyville is another community where the people were displaced, and the community eased. (How wonderful would a revival Donald McKayle’s District Storyville be?)

To commemorate his 10th anniversary as company artistic director Battle created For Four set to a jazz rendering by New Orleans native and jazz phenom Winton Marsalis. With classic Battle wit the quartet’s title is derived from the composition’s 4 x 4-time signature, but there is nothing “four square” about this work. Battle created a stylish and fun celebration marking our enthusiastic return to normality.

Fusing a multiplicity of style with strong dance theater elements this abstract narrative is a perfect vehicle to showcase his stellar cast. Renaldo Maurice opened and closed the work with a Master of Ceremonies whirling dervish aplomb; while Samantha Figgins executed a series of undulating fouetté inspired turns that oozed with liquid perfection. Jacqueline Green moved with such a total commitment that even her hair danced! And Solomon Dumas “do no wrong persona” wooed the audience the moment he walked on stage. In fact, the entire cast ricocheted through the energetic score with whimsical syncopated verve.

There are six more opportunities to experience the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater live at New York City Center. For ticket information visit ailey.org.

Ailey Performance Schedule

December 14, 7:30pm- Ailey and Ellington: The River, Pas de Duke, Reflections In D,                                                               Revelations

December 15, 7:30pm- 50 Years of Cry: Blues Suite, Cry, Revelations

December 16, 7:30pm- Lazarus

December 17, 8pm- Battle 10th Anniversary: Mass, Ella, In/Side, For Four, Untold, Love Stories                                                                                   (finale)

December 18, 8pm- Shelter, BUSK, Revelations

December 19, 3pm- Season Finale: Season Highlights, Revelations

 In Photo: 1) Robert Battle and Company 2) Jamar Roberts and Robert Battle 3) Company (Holding Space) 4) Yannick Lebron and Company (Holding Space) 5) Alvin Ailey and Company (Blues Suite) 6) Marilyn Banks (District Storyville) 7)  Renaldo Maurice, Samantha Figgins, Belén Indhira Pereyra and Solomon Dumas 8) Samantha Figgins

Photographer: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8 Christopher Duggan 5 & 6) Jack Mitchell

11/30/21 O&A NYC INSPIRATIONAL TUESDAY: Giselle- Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov (1977)

Giselle tells the tragic, romantic story of a beautiful young peasant girl who falls for the flirtations of the deceitful and disguised nobleman Albrecht. When the ruse is revealed, the fragile Giselle dies of heartbreak, and Albrecht must face the otherworldly consequences of his careless seduction. This 1977 American Ballet Theater televised production of Giselle was headed by Natalia Makarova, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Martine van Hamel.

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11/26/21 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Misty Copeland- Black Ballerinas Work Harder

In 2015, Dancer Misty Copeland made history by becoming the first African American female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre. Fast forward to 2021, and she has been on Time magazine’s 100 list and one Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year.” Now, the New York Times bestselling author and trailblazer is releasing a new book, “Black Ballerinas.” The illustrated nonfiction collection celebrates dancers of color who have influenced her on and off the stage. Continue reading

11/6/21 O&A NYC AFTER THE CONVERSATION: Elisa Monte, Sarita Allen, Lloyd Knight, Marzia Memoli

The Martha Graham Dance Company concluded its New York fall performances at the Joyce Theater. O&A NYC Editor-in-Chief Walter Rutledge sat down with Treading choreographer Elisa Monte, Graham dancers Lloyd Knight and Marzia Memoli, and “dance Icon” former Ailey principal Sarita Allen for a spirited conversation about Monte’s signature work. After the interview ended the the conversation continued.   Continue reading

8/6/21 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Carmen and Geoffrey (2005)


This documentary follows the astonishing five-decade marriage of Carmen De Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder and focuses on their careers as dancers, actors, choreographers and more. Continue reading

6/18/21 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Ailey Juneteenth Celebration

Ailey Celebrates Juneteenth is an uplifting program that features performance highlights from Alvin Ailey’s Cry and Revelations, as well as Rennie Harris’ Lazarus. Continue reading