Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater celebrates choreography of Robert Battle

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater celebrates choreography of Robert Battle

In the decade that Robert Struggle has served as inventive director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater — only its third because the company was started in 1958 — he has choreographed just one particular perform for the renowned and significantly-beloved company. As an alternative, with his eye for choreographic excellence, he has been programming and commissioning exceptional performs by Rennie Harris, Ronald K. Brown, Jessica Lang, Christopher Wheeldon, Aszure Barton, Kyle Abraham, and dozens of other individuals. As a result, on the company’s annual wintertime go to to the Kennedy Middle, an night of Battle’s is effective was celebratory on two counts: marking his tenth anniversary with the company and amassing a system of his dances on a solitary system.

Friday, February 4, 2022, the all–Robert Fight method at the Opera Household drew from the inventive director’s pieces dating back to 1999 up to his newest, which premiered in 2021. What we see in this human body of do the job is an artist with a appreciate for motion invention who displays facility in modern, jazz, and a little bit of street or vernacular idioms with relieve. He is also catholic — small c — in his musical choices, which vary from opera arias to up to date jazz, pop and blues, to Indian ragas. Audio, in reality, plays an outsize function in shaping Battle’s choreographic explorations. Compared with some modern day choreographers’ operates that could be re-imagined or re-set to diverse accompaniment, Battle’s will work wed entirely movement and tunes.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater celebrates choreography of Robert Battle
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in Robert Battle’s ‘Mass.’ Photograph by Paul Kolnik.

“Mass,” which Battle originally made for Juilliard students in 2004, draws on non secular and church illustrations or photos, specially the union of choir associates — as alluded to by Fritz Masten’s robed costumes. Sixteen dancers “play” John Mackey’s percussion score for xylophones and timpanis, as if visualizing the notes — highs and lows, operates and ritards set the dancers in movement, their robes flowing. They get in groups, clumps, and sign up for jointly en masse — think of choir apply and the sopranos, altos, and basses singing different areas but coming jointly in a harmonized entire. Which is what Fight does with “Mass,” even though also

actively playing with the bodily notion of mass — bodies in place joining together and breaking away. At times their upright, then treading footsteps rearrange the dancers in area. Occasionally they lie susceptible, feet flexed as if toppled around. And while “Mass” de- and re-constructs movement throughout time and room, it also feels meditative and spiritual in its ongoingness, bodies reaching, searching for a larger objective.

The latest function, “For Four,” from 2021, could be Battle’s “pandemic piece.” For four dancers — Chalvar Monteiro, Solomon Dumas, Belén Indhira Pereyra, Miranda Quinn — and with audio by Wynton Marsalis, the jazzy piece is deceptively mild, until it isn’t. Guys and females in suspenders and dark suits execute Fosse-isms — off-kilter balances, hip switches, and body rolls — with panache. And to cross the phase, no one simply walks — they strut backside swinging, or tip forward chest and derriere thrust out, or sloooooow drag, or subtly sashay. The piece to begin with feels playful, like Marsalis’s jazzy riffs. Then an American flag — projected on the scrim — slides to the floor as the lights darken, dancers play on as does the mood. The last impression delivers reality home: a solitary dancer with back to the viewers lifts a single arm, fist clenched in the dap or Black electrical power gesture. Then his clenched fists cross at the wrists. Arms up. The yrs 2020 and 2021 were not just pandemic decades but yrs that social justice protests of the Black Lives Matter motion dominated. In “For Four,” even though significantly fewer confrontational than many recent operates concentrating on racial fairness, Fight built his level.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s Jeroboam Bozeman in Robert Battle’s ‘InSide.’ Photo by Dario Calmese.

Jeroboam Bozeman lays bare personal struggles in “In/Aspect,” danced to the haunting voice of Nina Simone singing “Wild Is the Wind.” We see Bozeman barechested, clad just in black briefs, the physical evocation of an emotional struggle, stretching and collapsing, dragging himself into a crawl, undulating his shoulders — wild, like the wind. “Unfold” options Bozeman supporting Jacqueline Inexperienced in a drastically lustrous pas de deux to an aria sung by Leontyne Cost. Environmentally friendly unfurls in a deep arch later Bozeman catches her and sweeps her in arcs, in sensuous and soulful abandon. Dancer Kanji Sawa tackles just one of Battle’s signature solos, “Takademe,” with playful aplomb. The transient solo matches quirky angular and staccato movements to British-Indian singer Sheila Chandra’s konnakol — or syllabic scat-model of singing. It is a mini–tour de pressure of movement and new music visualization. 

“Ella” usually takes a webpage from “Takademe,” this time a four-moment mile to the excellent Ella Fitzgerald’s scatting “Air Mail Unique.” Rubbery walks and juicy jumps, quirky twists, a significant-5 or two, and plenty of kicks and hip switches leave each dancers and audiences breathless with the brief-footed audacity. An excerpt from “loves Tales,” showcasing dancers costumed in yellow and orange jumpsuits, is another bright, jazzy group-pleaser that finishes in a “get down” second, the 10 dancers every single carrying out their have matter to Stevie Question accompaniment.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in Robert Battle’s ‘Mass.’ Picture by Paul Kolnik.

And, of class, no Ailey method is total devoid of “Revelations.” The vintage operate traces African American history by way of gospel tracks and similarly expressive motion drawing from earth-centered Africanist roots embodied in shuffling footwork, grounded walks, bent knees, undulating and articulated torsos, and, earlier mentioned all, an indomitable spirit. I’m confident I have mentioned it right before but folks show up at an Ailey software like they show up at church, to be moved, and “Revelations” has been shifting and inspiring folks considering the fact that its premiere in 1958. In reality, Fight himself after shared with me how, when he was a boy expanding up in Florida, one particular of his early introductions to dance was observing the Ailey organization during a faculty application. These days he leads that extremely similar business. That is inspirational.

Managing Time: About two hrs and 15 minutes, with two intermissions. 

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater executed February 1 to 6, 2022, at The John F. Kennedy Heart Opera Property, 2700 F Avenue NW, Washington, DC. F Extra courses for the duration of the engagement are stated under.

50 Yrs of Cry + New Will work
Tuesday, February 1 Evening
Saturday, February 5 Evening
ROBERT Fight: For 4
JAMAR ROBERTS: Holding Place
ALVIN AILEY: Revelations

 Common & Modern day
Wednesday, February 2 Night
ALVIN AILE: Blues Suite
ROBERT Battle: Appreciate Stories finale
ALVIN AILEY: Revelations

Ailey & Ellington
Thursday, February 3 Evening
Saturday, February 5 Matinee
ALVIN AILEY: Blues Suite
ALVIN AILEY: Reflections in D*
ALVIN AILEY: Pas de Duke excerpt*
ALVIN AILEY: The River excerpt*
ALVIN AILEY: Revelations
*New Production

Battle 10th Anniversary
Friday, February 4 Evening
Sunday, February 6 Matinee
ROBERT Fight: Mass
ROBERT Struggle: In/Side
ROBERT Struggle: Ella
ROBERT Battle: For 4
ROBERT Fight: Unfold*
ROBERT Struggle: Takademe
ROBERT Struggle: Like Stories finale
ALVIN AILEY: Revelations
*New Manufacturing