arts

Ailey dancers perform repertory at auditorium



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The company of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform to Alvin Ailey's "Revelations" on Wednesday at the IU Auditorium. Haley Ward Buy Photos

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater gave its fourth performance since 1980 at the IU Auditorium last night.

Founded by choreographer Alvin Ailey in 1958, the theater consists of young African-American modern dancers.

Ailey’s goal was to revolutionize African-American participation in 20th-century concert dance, according to the group’s website.

“Revelations,” choreographed by Ailey in 1960, is a performance based on his “blood memories” while growing up in Texas.

Throughout his career, Ailey was heavily influenced by traditional music and spirituals.
Alvin Ailey Choreographer and Rehearsal Director Matthew Rushing led a pre-performance discussion.

Rushing said because the company was founded to be a repertory dance theater, Ailey “opened the floor to his peers, including different choreographers from around the world.”

“Revelations” represents this repertory, contains three separate performances the each elucidate a distinct style of dance.

Ailey composed 79 ballets during his lifetime. Throughout its history, the company has performed more than 235 works by more than 90 choreographers.

Since 1958, the company has traveled to 48 states, 71 countries and six continents.
At the pre-performance discussion, Rushing said the effortless vibe the dancers feed the audience is an illusion.

“What you see on stage often is not what we feel,” he said. “We work all our lives to make what we do look easy.”

Despite this, Rushing emphasized the flow state the performers enter while
dancing.

“Dancers experience special moments when the audience is totally connected, moments where you feel high levels of art happening in the theatre,” Rushing said. “Sometimes you feel weightless, like you can dance forever. These moments keep you coming back to the stage.”

Rushing began dancing as a child as a way to keep himself off of the streets, he said.
He attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and joined Alvin Ailey in 1992.

Rushing became rehearsal director for the company in 2010 and has choreographed two ballets. He has also performed for former presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and current president Barack Obama.

IU Auditorium Associate Director Maria Talbert said the reason they keep bringing the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater back to Bloomington is because of their repertoire and artistry.

Talbert first saw the company in college.

“It was one of the most memorable artistic experiences I’ve ever had,” she said.

Bloomington resident Pat Williams, who has seen Alvin Ailey perform at least three times, couldn’t agree more.

Williams’ late husband was a musician — a pianist. The two of them would attend IU Auditorium performances on a regular basis because “it was important for us to support the arts.”

When she first saw the company perform, she knew she would return, for the quality of the performances was outstanding, she said.

“By the end of the performance, the energy from the theater will blow off the roof,” Rushing said.

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