Dance revolutionaries coming
A fruitful and busy season for the Hellenic Festival comes to an end with two performances by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Herod Atticus Theater on Monday and Tuesday, September 24 and 25. The celebrated company, which revolutionized modern dance and gave Afro-American artists a new impetus, comes to Athens before traveling to Thessaloniki for another two performances at the city’s Concert Hall on September 27 and 28. A new movement The first totally non-white art dance company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was founded in 1958. It followed in the footsteps of the Lester Horton Dance Theater, established in 1934, which was the first American art dance company with dancers of every race in its ranks. Ailey, who was born in rural Texas in 1931 and first saw a performance of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo while still in high school, became the Horton company’s artistic director at the age of 23. For the next 30 years, he nurtured talent, fashioned countless dancers and went on to create works that have become classics. He died in 1989. Passing the torch He made us believe that we were gods and goddesses, but also individuals, Judith Jamison has said of Ailey. Today, this is achieved through her artistic direction. Born in Philadelphia in 1944, Judith Jamison was invited to dance with the American Ballet Theater by Agnes DeMille. She met Ailey in 1965, and immediately joined his company. Soon, the great master was dedicating works to his new dancer, beginning with Cry, a celebration of all black women. In 1984, parallel to her career as a dancer, Jamison started choreographing, and in 1993, she dedicated her work Hymn to Ailey. For its upcoming performances the company is presenting a program of gospel-oriented dances: Ronald K. Brown’s Grace with music by Duke Ellington, Roy Davis, Paul Johnson and Fela (Anikulapo) Kuti; Alonzo King’s Following the Subtle Current Upstream with music by Zakir Hussain, Miguel Frasconi and Miriam Makeba; and concluding with the well-known Ailey three-part choreography Revelations to traditional music. The idea behind Grace is that people are living their lives without acknowledging the grace that surrounds their existence, while Following the Subtle Current Upstream alludes to the struggle of the flesh to return to the spirit. As for Revelations, which is frequently referred to as Alvin Ailey’s signature work, its inspiration stems from the spirituals of the 1960s. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform at the Herod Atticus Theater on September 24 and 25 and at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall on September 27 and 28. (Performances at the Herod Atticus Theater start at 8.30 p.m.) Herod Atticus Theater, Dionysiou Areopagitou, tel 323.2771, 323.5582. Tickets are available from the Hellenic Festival box office, 4 Stadiou, in the Spyrou Miliou Arcade, tel 322.1459. For Thessaloniki, contact the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, 25th Martiou, tel (031) 895.800. Will it be a body which forms for a particular occasion or permanent? This (the latter option) is what I proposed and this is the wish of the Hellenic Festival, replies Kontogiorgiou. But for the time being, the choir members have signed contracts for individual performances, one for each of the two concerts in which they are participating. It had to be done this way in order to progress with the task in hand and gain time so that the prospects could be studied in depth.