Alvin Ailey with Wynton Marsalis &

the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra - 2010

December 19, 2010

written by Sandra Prosnitz

It’s a pleasure to watch the Alvin Ailey dancers.  While their technique is excellent, they also always convey the feeling of the dance, whether it’s dramatic or playful.

This program was very enjoyable. It was enhanced by live music from The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

It started with Three Black Kings, choreographed by Alvin Ailey to Duke Ellington music.  The Orchestra, featuring Wynton Marsalis on trumpet, was on stage with the dancers.  Jamar Roberts was appropriately majestic as King Balthazar.  Clifton Brown was dramatic as King Solomon, but looked slightly awkward in his dance with Linda Celeste Sims.  The star of this piece was Matthew Rushing as Martin Luther King.  He was exuberant without ever losing dance discipline.  The supporting dancers backed him up beautifully.

Solo, despite its name, is a virtuoso piece for three male dancers.  It was well served by Guillermo Asca, Yannick Lebrun and Antonio Douthit.  Each man in turn danced a solo dance, then returned to do a second and a third, getting faster and more elaborate every time.

Vespers, choreographed by Ulysses Dove to percussion music by Mikel Rouse, was a strange piece.  Women in black dresses, looking a little like spiders, moved rapidly and in perfect unison on and off chairs, to music that was either hypnotic or monotonous – I couldn’t decide which.  Briana Reed and Ghrai DeVore were the excellent lead dancers. 

The major piece of the evening was The Winter in Lisbon.  The jazz orchestra, playing the gorgeous Dizzy Gillespie music, was as much a star of this piece as the dancers.  The night club setting perfectly showed off the Ailey dancers’ high spirits and dazzling technique.  Renee Robinson and Glenn Allen Sims were by turns sexy and sad in an exquisite pas de deux.

The audience – and the performers – had a special treat when the company’s artistic director, Judith Jamieson, spontaneously joined the dancers for a brief but exuberant encore, bringing the audience to its feet.