Yesterday I was fortunate to attend Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater‘s special Family Matinee series in Manhattan at City Center. I took my 14-year-old son to witness the greatness that this group of modern dancers brings to their work and I hope he remembers it for years to come. The program was Timeless Ailey, featuring over a dozen treasures from Mr. Ailey’s wonderfully rich body of work, including highlights of seldom-seen gems Mary Lou’s Mass and The Lark Ascending.
The result was electrifying. My son had never been to a modern dance performance, let alone see the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and it is so beyond a great experience for any child, let alone an adult like me who needed a bit of Alvin Ailey in her life right now. We were also lucky because we were there for the timeless American masterpiece Revelations – one of the most well-known and respected ballets in the history of dance, acclaimed as a must-see for all. Since its premiere in 1960, Revelations has been seen by more audiences around the world than any other modern work, inspiring generations through its powerful storytelling and soul-stirring spirituals. Springing from Ailey’s childhood memories of growing up in the south and attending services at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Texas, Revelations pays homage to the rich cultural heritage of the African-American and explores the emotional spectrum of the human condition.
For me, that is why Alvin Ailey is so special – they celebrate African-American history in a way that no other artistic performance does. The dancers feel this history in their bones in their hearts, in their souls and it shines through their every move.
Additional premieres and repertory favorites highlighted on programs during the Family Matinee Series will include:
Stack-Up, Talley Beatty’s work depicting the emotional “traffic” in a community that is stacked on top of each other.
The Golden Section, a sizzling work set to a rocking score by David Byrne by Twyla Tharp.
Ella, Robert Battle’s tour-du-force duet set to Ella Fitzgerald’s virtuosic scatting in the song “Airmail Special.”
This Saturday, 12/29, you can attend Kairos, The Call, Revelations at 2 pm, and I urge you to go. Tickets starting at $29 are on sale now at the New York City Center Box Office, through CityTix at (212) 581-1212, or online at www.alvinailey.org or www.nycitycenter.org. Discount tickets are available for Ailey Super Fans who purchase tickets for more than one performance, for students with an appropriate ID, and for groups of 10 or more (discounts do not apply to $29 tickets). For further information about The Family Matinee Series during Ailey’s 2018 New York City Center season and Ailey Ascending 60th Anniversary Celebration, please visit www.alvinailey.org/citycenter and www.alvinailey.org/ailey60.
At the end of the performance, I leaned forward, took a deep breath and told my son “That was pure joy.” There were children around me standing up to give the group a standing ovation. My son was not truly one of them. I am not sure he knew exactly what to think of what he had just seen, but he knew it was important. He knew it was historic. I know it is something we will both look back on for years to come.
Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary tickets to facilitate this review but all thoughts are my own.