5/28/20 O&A NYC DANCE: Robert Battle’s The Hunt

The Ailey company first premiered The Hunt, one of Robert Battle’s most popular works, in 2010. Fueled by a thundering percussion soundtrack, the piece explores the relationship between modern sports and the rites of the gladiators. Continue reading

(Repost) 5/27/20 O&A NYC DANCE: A Conversation With Sylvia Waters- Artistic Director Emerita Ailey II

By Walter Rutledge

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Ailey II Artistic Director Emerita Sylvia Waters has shaped the lives and careers of countless young artists. During her 38 year tenure the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble grew into the world respected Ailey II- a dance company, choreographic laboratory and “dancing boot camp”. In 2012, shortly before her departure, we had an opportunity to talk with her about her career as a dancer, teacher and director.

Continue reading

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

3/17/19 O&A NYC DANCE/REVIEW: Ailey II

By Walter Rutledge

Ailey II opened  their 2019 New York City season on Wednesday, March 13th at NYU Skirball, the five-day seven performance season runs through Sunday, March 17. More than a “farm team” for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater this 12-member ensemble has built a reputation as a solid repertory company; featuring stellar young artists performing dynamic, and sometimes edgy choreography. This year is no exception Program A (entitled All New) presented three world premieres by Ailey alumnus Uri Sands, Bradley Shelver, and Troy Powell; and one company premiere by Robert Battle. The evening of abstract narrative works could best be described as visually atmospheric.

Tracks by Uri Sands began with the full ensemble slowly proceeding downstage right (with their back facing the audience) in a single shaft of diagonal light. Ample smoke added the required visual drama to Burke Brown’s light design, which provided a stark canvas for the minimalist prelude.  Set to the prison work song Let Your Hammer Ring the section’s steady progression was occasionally interrupted by a dancer simply standing upright.

In sharp contrast, this was followed by four sections set to the music of the R&B group the O’Jays. The work lost the minimalist approach establishing a lush contemporary look. The centerpiece of the work was the duet set to Desire Me. Antuan Byers and Marcus Williams navigated the same-sex duet with quiet passion; the sculptural elements of the work evoked a sensory reaction void of saccharine melodrama. The work ended with Stairway To Heaven throughout the section Kyle H. Martin is enveloped into a moving cloud like mass; that gently jettisoned back into the space, only to be enveloped again. The repetitive phrase provided the work with a holistic conclusion.

Choreographers are teachers of movement. They have the ability to imbue dancers with qualities beyond technique. Ebb And Flow by Ailey II Artistic Director Troy Powell is just such a work.

The duet, set to the popular Adagio for Strings, Op 11 by Samuel Barber, gave Powell a monumental task- to breathe new life into this music chestnut. Corrin Rachelle Mitchell was bathed in an amber and blue glow held aloft by Leonardo Brito. Sequestered in a rectangular, that ran through the center of the stage, the duet displayed a musicality that did not rely exclusively on the phrasing; instead it became its own moving visual voice. Powell was able to share the power and majesty of the music through his choreography; while giving the dancers an opportunity to grow.

Flock, a septet by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Robert Battle, proved to be the most diverse work on the program. Battle’s vocabulary defied convention by avoiding classroom/technique- based movement. This allowed  the choreography to establish its own distant voice; unencumbered by conventional shapes and steps such as arabesque, attitude turns and posse’ pirouettes.

The abstract dance narrative takes us on a tale of trust betrayed a kind of abstract Emperor Jones or A Face In The Crowd. Kyle H. Martin leads his flock until his own “feet of clay” are exposed. Originally choreographed in 2004 the present social and political climate gives this allegory renewed relevance.

The evening closed with the full ensemble work Where There Are Tongues by South African born dancer, teacher, author and choreographer Bradley Shelver. The amalgam  of movement styles and cultural references give the work a textually rich element. References included indigenous movement from Africa and Europe; which created a universal and inclusive quality. The rhythmically complex music by french a cappella group Lo Còr De La Plana assisted in the universality by providing a pulsing audio score that transcended any one culture.

Ailey II continues to offer artists (dancers, choreographers light and costume designers) opportunities to develop their craft. It also continues to honor founder Alvin Ailey and his love for dance as a gift to all people. The 2019 New York City Ailey II season exemplifies this vision; one of the reasons this company has become a formidable force in its own right.

3/13/19 O&A NYC DANCE: Marcel Wilson- Ailey II

Marcel Wilson, Jr. is living his dream. A member of Ailey II, the Bronx native will perform March 13 though 17 at NYU Skirball, 566 LaGuardia Place. Continue reading

3/10/19 O&A NYC WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS WEEK: March 10- March 16, 2019

New York, New York a helluva town! This week we have theatre in Brooklyn, on Broadway and “Da Bronx”. Chi-town is dancing in our town; and art from Fifth Avenue to Flatbush Avenue. Here are a few of the many events happening in the city that never sleeps, guaranteed to keep you Out and About. Continue reading

(REPOST) 12/19/16 O&A NYC DANCE: Jeroboam Bozeman Dance Warrior

By Walter Rutledge

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President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort”. Jeroboam Bozeman is living Roosevelt’s observation. At first glance Jeroboam is a quiet, reserved young man with a warm and genuine smile; on stage Bozeman is a dance warrior. This talented 23 years old performer will make his debut with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater during the New York City Center season, which begins on Wednesday, December 4.

Jeroboam Bozeman part one

A native of Brooklyn, New York Jeroboam was one of those fortunate individuals who discovered his “joy of achievement” early in life. He began studying dance at the Ronald Edmonds Learning Center (Junior High School 113) in Brooklyn with Ruth Sistaire. It was Sistaire who soon introduced Jeroboam to Creative Outlet Dance Theater of Brooklyn, a community based dance school and company.

Jeroboam Bozeman part two

Under Artistic Director Jamel Gaines’ guidance Jeroboam got his first real taste of the New York City dance scene. He trained in a nurturing family-like environment with working professionals including former Ailey dancers Shirley Black Brown and Raquelle Chavis. At age 16 he was asked to perform with the company and toured London, England. These experiences with Creative Outlet gave this young artist a chance to see the world, earn income and most importantly build a professional ethos.

Bozeman’s talents were rewarded with full scholarships to attend two of New York City’s most prestigious dance schools, the Joffrey Ballet School and Dance Theatre of Harlem. By age 19 his commitment and hard work paid off once again when he was chosen by choreographer Sarita Allen to performing in the Far East touring company of Elton John and Tim Rice’s musical Aida. These experiences helped shape the aspiring artist, but his career defining moment can when Jeroboam joined Philadanco.

Jeroboam Bozeman part three

The venerable Philadelphia Dance Company known to the general public, as Philadanco was the environment that propelled Bozeman from neophyte to professional. He credits the no nonsense approach of Artistic Director/Founder Joan Myers Brown for his artistic growth. For over 40 years Brown’s strong repertory company has featured choreography by such dance luminaries as Talley Beatty, George Faison, Rennie Harris and Ronald K. Brown; during his three-year association with the company Jeroboam learned to dance beyond the footlights.

A turning point for Bozeman came during the rehearsals of the solo from Faison’s Suite Otis. Former Ailey dancer and current Philadanco Rehearsal Director/coach Debora Chase-Hicks pushed him to find that inner dance warrior. The sessions were a watershed moment for Jeroboam, helping him move his artistry to the next level.

Jeroboam Bozeman part four

Returning to New York in 2012 Bozeman danced with Ailey II under the direction of then newly appointed Artistic Director Troy Powell. Less than a year later he was invited to join the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. As Bozeman makes this next career move he retains a humble teachable spirit, unpretentious demeanor and that exuberate smile. We wish this rising dance warrior much continued success.

Originally posted 12/2/13 for Harlem World Magazine

3/31/16 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY- REVIEW: Ailey II- Jean Emile’s In And Out Is Outstanding

By Walter Rutledge

Shall We Dance

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Ailey II began their annual New York City 2016 season Wednesday March 30th at the Ailey Citygroup Theater, in the Joan Weill Center For Dance (405 W 55th Street). The two-week season, which runs through April 10, 2016, will offer two programs, All New and Returning Favorites. The season opened with the All New program, featuring four works by Kyle “JustSole” Clark, Jean Emile, Ray Mercer, and Jamar Roberts. Continue reading

11/20/15 O&A NYC Dance: A Conversation With Sylvia Waters- Artistic Director Emerita Ailey II

By Walter Rutledge

sylvia 930

Ailey II Artistic Director Emerita Sylvia Waters has shaped the lives and careers of countless young artists. During her 38 year tenure the Alvin Ailey Repertory  Ensemble grew into a world respected Ailey II- a dance company, choreographic laboratory and “dancing boot camp”. In 2012, shortly before her departure, we had an opportunity to talk with her about her career as a dancer, teacher and director.

Continue reading

7/28/15 O&A REVIEW: The 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival

By Walter Rutledge

Fire-Island-Dance-Festival-2015-cast-photo-by-Daniel-Roberts

The Fire Island Dance Festival 2015 took place July 17- 19 in Fire Island Pines. The three-day dance event has become Fire Island’s premiere summer dance showcase; spotlighting the talents of new, emerging and established choreographers, dancers and dance companies. This year the festival presented ten works by nine choreographers, and featuring forty-three performing artists.

Due to the high level of artistry and the picturesque setting (overlooking the bay) the entertainment element is the festival’s focal point; but the purpose and mission should always be reinforced and reiterated at every opportunity. The Fire Island Dance Festival is the successful result of two communities that have been greatly impacted by HIV/AIDS coming together to make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable. Dancer Responding To AIDS (DRA) was founded in 1991 during the bleakest days for the AIDS pandemic.

The Fire Island Dance Festival achieves its goal through the very essence of the art form- by sharing. The response and generosity of the dance and Fire Island communities has allowed DRA to surpass the previous year’s financial accomplishments. This year the festival raised $544,555 that will assist in their year round support for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Due to the freelance nature of the “no business like show business”, many artists living with HIV/AIDS lack adequate health services, emergency financial assistance and contingency funds, lifesaving medications, counseling, healthy meals, and vital support systems. Through various programs including The Actors Fund, the HIV/AIDS Initiative and The Dancers’ Resource, artists and the community at large receive assistance.

 Desmond-Richardson-Fire-Island-Dance-Festival-2015-photo-by-Daniel-Roberts

Festival host Desmond Richardson is quickly becoming dance’s eloquent elder statesmen. Richardson (who participated in the very first festival) is also co-founder of Complexions Contemporary Ballet; and along with Artistic Director Dwight Rhoden remain a staple throughout the festival’s 21-year history. This year Rhoden offered a solo set two Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, and performed by his present muse Clifford Williams. Williams gave an articulate and impassioned performance.

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The ten works ranged from lighthearted dance theatre to ballet bravura, which epitomized the range, scope and inclusiveness of the event and the mission. Choreographers: Joshua Beamish, Al Blackstone, Pontus Lidberg, Duncan Lyle, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Stephen Petronio, Jules Perrot, Dwight Rhoden, Manuel Vignoulle, and Charlie Williams.

Dance Companies: Ailey II, Ballet Hispanico, Intermezzo Dance Company, Joshua Beamish/Move: the company, Manuel Vignoulle Dance– M/motions, and Pontus Lidberg Dance.

And dancers: Paulo Arrais, Alex Biegelson, Biscuit, Shay Bland, Christopher Bloom, Mary Carmen Catoya, Chloe Cambelll, Marc Cardarelli, Mario Ismael Espinoza, Mark Gieringer, Jacob Guzman, Christopher Hernandez, Jakob Karr, Justin Keats, Dimitri Kleioris, Lindsay Janisse, Adrian Lee, Pontus Lidberg, Kourtni Lind, Reed Luplau, Chase Madigan, Raymond Matasamura, Johan Rivera Mendez, Adam Perry, Karine Plantadit, Kleber Rebello, Isaies Santamaria, Logan Schyvynck, Nicholas Sciscione, Corey Snide, Terrell Spence, Manuel Vignoulle Clifford Williams, Stephanie Williams, and Joshua Winzeler should all be commended for donating their time and sharing their artistry.  

The Fire Island Dance Festival is a once a year event that take place on the third Saturday of July, but the services provided by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS are year round. DRA supports more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states.To find out more about the programs and service provide or to make a donation visit dradance.org.

1) 2015 Fire Island Dance Festival 2) Desmond Richardson

Daniel Roberts Photographer

On Carousel  1) Pontus Lidberg Dance 2) Mary Carmen Catoya and Kleber Rebello 3) Manuel  Vignoulle Dance M/motions 4) Joshua Beamish/Move: the company 5) Charlie Williams 6) Ballet Hispanico 7) Al Blackstone 8) Ailey II 9) 10 Hairy Legs

Whitney Browne Photographer