As opening night took off for Ailey II at NYU Skirball on March 13th, a new program began with a mixed bag of choreography. The least inspired and most conventional of which was Tracks by Uri Sands. The music while great on its own: The O’Jays, Big Louisiana, Arthur Davis and Willy Rafus all speak to political/cultural disunity yet did little to support the choreography in terms of the fluidity and nuance. In short, it lacked inspiration for it didn’t serve the intention of the music or the symmetry which propels great dance that tells a story in need of being recognized. This piece needed to dig deeper for the gold it was trying to achieve.
While Track fell short, Flock was fantastic. The last of several pieces presented that night. Compelling work by the always on point Robert Battle from his early store of brilliant pieces. The atmosphere was exotic and felt ancient, and though there was no incense or the sound of bells, one felt a sense of the Orient, distant and mysterious. This story is of a ruler and his disciples who seem to be at the mercy of their obedience to a charismatic leader who is not only the sun that shines but also can prove to be dangerous. The exciting percussive score by composer Evelyn Glennie was perfect. Dance and music in symbiotic harmony. Excellent fluid costuming by Taylor S. Barnett of draped golden fabric and a grand impressive robe for the ruler was entirely in keeping with the effect and added to the vital elements of movement which disrupted the air on stage. Kyle H. Martin was majestic as the ruler. He gave all that he had in him to his performance. He looked like a stoked Butterfly as he flew through the air and jumped off the ground. As a friend said when she whispered in my ear “NOW THAT’S ART!”
While the other works were fine and at times elegant as in Ebb and Flow, danced by Corrin Rachelle Mitchell and Leonardo Brito with great costuming again by Taylor S. Barnett, they didn’t quite give off the inspired appeal that Flock did. It’s the difference between an enchanted cottage with a garden full of colors and a cottage.