Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2007, 12:00am

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

Lyric Theatre, APA

Reviewed: Nov 2

It has been nearly 50 years since the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre was set up to celebrate African-American culture, combining classical ballet and modern dance with jazz and African traditions to stunning effect. Its founder died in 1989 and was succeeded as artistic director by one of his finest dancers, Judith Jamison, and the company continues to thrill with its energy, emotion and technical brilliance.

Its second programme in Hong Kong showcased new choreography while preserving Ailey's work. Love Stories, by Jamison, Robert Battle and Rennie Harris, was the weakest piece. Incorporating hip hop is a good move for the company, but it's a dance form not at its best in a structured, staged context. However, the dancing was exciting enough to make it enjoyable, and Courtney Brene Corbin was outstanding.

Set to Ray Charles, The Groove to Nobody's Business, by Camille Brown, takes a light-hearted look at subway commuting, the frustrations of waiting for a train that never comes, and the forced proximity with strangers on a crowded carriage. The piece is slight, but witty and pleasing.

Pas de Duke is a play on the classical pas de deux format to Duke Ellington music, created by Ailey for Jamison and Mikhail Baryshnikov. It's cleverly made, but so tied to the special gifts of its original interpreters that seeing it with lesser dancers is disappointing.

The evening ended with Ailey's Revelations. This masterpiece, set to spirituals, is imbued with a profound sense of joy which underlies its more sombre passages. This work shows Ailey's choreography at its best, as he uses his dancers to express themes of suffering, hope and redemption.