DramaReviewSouth West

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – Plymouth Theatre Royal

Artistic Director: Robert Battle
Executive Director: Bennett Rink
Reviewer: Karen Bussell

Exhilarating. The iconic Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is back on tour doing what it does best – irresistible takes on preserving and enriching the American modern dance heritage.

First up on programme A is Rennie Harris’s Exodus, a gloomy apocalyptic opening – with strewn bodies, keening mourners and spoken word – soon gives way to hip hop cavorting and rubber leg gambolling with the statuesque and mesmerising Jamar Roberts striding purposefully through a pulsing gospel and house journey from sorrow to redemption and death.

Stuttering movements blending into reaching and stretching, freeze frame moments juxtaposition with undulating hips and frenetic movement for a cohesive and stunning whole. And quite a striking curtain call.

Next on is Ronald K Brown’s Four Corners – a gentle, slinky piece of flowing shapes and spiritual guidance drawing on West African and modern dance influences, and Carl Hancock Rux’s Lamentations.

Shifting pace illustrates hope and Omotayo Wunmi Olaiya’s draped costuming and Al Crawford’s lighting combine beautifully to leave the audience breathless.

Husband and wife duo Linda Celeste and Glenn Allen Sims are the perfect choice for Christopher Wheeldon’s exquisite After The Rain Pas De Deux. Balletic and athletic, chemistry is palpable while graceful sweeps and lifts are nicely interspaced by sudden awkward angles and stiff body shapes.

As ever, the bill ends with the iconic Revelations,which is said to be the most seen and best known modern dance piece.

Vibrant, pulsating and dynamic, Ailey’s 1960 enduring colourful classic is emotional and uplifting with African-American spirituals and gospel bound to have the audience springing to their feet. Superb.

This young company emits such infectious joie de vivre – with the vivacious Fana Tesfagiorgis epitomising the spirit with her engaging smile and clear enjoyment – that it would be a shame to miss it.

Runs until 21 September 2016 and touring UK until 19 October | Image: AndrewEccles

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