Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre ★★★★ Sadler's Wells Theatre | September 5 - 16, 2023


It is difficult to believe that Alvin Ailey's extraordinary company is celebrating its 65th anniversary. This year, with a combination of new work and old favourites, it brings four different shows to London: Contemporary Voices, Modern Masters, Ailey Classics and 21st Century Creations. The first three programmes include Alvin Ailey's unforgettable choreography of "Revelations." Almost inevitably for us, this was the highlight of the Contemporary Voices program. Ailey's ability to capture the longing and exuberance of such spirituals as "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel," "Sinner Man," and "Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham" remains both enthralling and inspirational. It's an almost impossible act to follow, and for all three programmes, in which has been included, it has wisely been selected as the concluding piece. For us, the opening , Kyle Abraham's "Are You in Your Feelings," has some engaging and extraordinary moments, but the disconnection present in the relationships becomes emblematic of the work itself. The fact that the dancers performed parallel movements with only partial synchronisation might have been intentional, asserting the individual as separate from the group, but it also became distracting. The second act which showcased Robert Battle's choreography, "For Four" is full of pop and humour, and we loved the energy and sophistication of that piece. However, Battle's second offering, "Unfold," didn't seem to work as well. While the movement at times beautifully underscored the music of "Depuis Le Jour" from Charpentier's Louise, at other moments it seemed to undermine this naïve paean to the idealised joys of love. Nevertheless, whichever program one chooses to see, the quality and originality of Alvin Ailey's troupe is bound to shine through. There's no doubt that this is a company that will be entertaining and delighting audiences for at least another 65 years!

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Paul Kolnik

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