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The Voice of the Black Community

Arts and Entertainment

Revelations from Ailey
Dance troupe has week of performances at Knight Theater
 
Published Thursday, May 3, 2012 7:26 am
by Ryanne Persinger

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is coming to town and every night the company is offering audiences something different.

PHOTO/ANDREW ECCLES
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Celeste Sims and Glenn Allen Sims in Ailey’s ‘Revelations.’ The company will be in Charlotte May 15-20 at the Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts.


“You guys are getting a handful,” Matthew Rushing, the troupe’s rehearsal director said by telephone from Minneapolis, Minn, where the company was touring Tuesday. “I think there’s 10 ballets you’re getting in one week.”


The performances run May 15-20 at Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts, 430 S. Tryon St. Tickets start at $39.50.
The program includes Ailey’s piece “Revelations,” with different acts varying each day.


“‘Revelations’ is our signature work,” Rushing said. “That is what we are about. It was first choreographed in 1960.”


In “Revelations,” African American spirituals are used, along with song-sermons; gospel and holy blues describe the places of the deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul.


Ailey started the company in 1958 and died in 1989. He asked Judith Jamison to become the artistic director and she carried on the legacy until 2011. Jamison passed the mantle onto Robert Battle.


Rushing, who also dances with the company, says there are two challenging pieces that will be seen. One includes “The Hunt,” by Battle. During the piece six men reveal the predatory side of human nature and the primitive thrill of the hunt.


“I would say it’s like combining a rugby game along with a rock and roll concert,” Rushing said. “It takes stamina, strength and perseverance. It will have you screaming at the end of it. It’s really a treat to watch.”


The other, Rushing says, is “Minus 16,” choreographed by Ohad Naharin. It is described as an electric score that includes mambo and techno to traditional Israeli music.


“It’s one of our new works,” Rushing said. “It’s challenging because it’s so new. It’s the approach. It’s like a new way of thinking for our dancers, but it’s very special.”


Other works include Alvin’s “Streams,” and “Memoria,” “Takademe” by Battle, “Arden Court” choreographed by Paul Taylor, “Home” by Rennie Harris, “Journey” by Joyce Trisler, “Shards” by Donald Byrd and “The Corner” by Kyle Abraham.


Rushing, who began dancing with the company in 1992, became rehearsal director in 2010. He admits it took some getting used to.


“It’s a foreign position to me,” he said. “I’m giving notes and telling people what they’re doing wrong and right when I would normally be told that. It’s a big shift in thought process.”


As a dancer who still performs two to three times a week, Rushing says he is able to use his own experiences to relate with other performers.
“It keeps me connected to the dancers,” he said. “It keeps me connected to their mindset. I have more compassion and I understand what the dancers are going through.”


Rushing, a Los Angeles native, first started dancing at age 13 in an afterschool program.


“I was exposed to drama and vocal lessons,” he said. “But it wasn’t until I went to high school that I started training seriously.”


Rushing attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and earned a scholarship to The Ailey School and later became a member of Ailey II, where he danced for a year. He’s also performed internationally, as well as for four U.S. presidents.


“They were all very unique experiences,” Rushing said. “I danced at (Bill) Clinton’s inaugural. I danced for (H.W.) Bush as a presidential scholar in high school and the other (George W.) Bush at the White House. I danced for (President Barack) Obama at the Kennedy Center.”


Rushing also performed during a tribute to Jamison at the White House. Since Jamison’s retirement, Rushing said Battle’s transition into the company’s leader has been a smooth one.


“(Battle) had a very good understanding of what the organization was about,” Rushing said. “The dancers already knew him and his dynamic temperament, and he is charming and supportive. It made the transition so easy.”


For more information, call (704) 372-1000.


On the Net:
Blumenthal Peforming Arts Center
www.blumenthalarts.org
Alvin Ailey
www.alvinailey.org

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