FOR THE PROVOCATIVE AND

FOR THE PROVOCATIVE AND

Alvin Ailey, TITAS Presents at the Winspear.

Playing to a nearly packed house, this is a dance ensemble of depth and surprise.

Deep, in fact, was the name of the opening number the night I was there. It reminded me of Michael Jackson at Texas Stadium years ago.

There was no appeal to the sexy or the senses, only a testament to the tensions of the times with a yearning for Armageddon,

those dreaded last days that promise release from an age of anxiety. This is a dance of solitary virtuosity, projecting no connection, much less relationship.

The movement was so angular, so overwrought, I didn’t realize the intrinsic grace of the dancers until they took their bows.

If there was no letup in Deep, Walking Mad, danced partly to Ravel’s Bolero, gloried in wit, with derby hats, referencing Magritte, and a falling wall,

or bodies falling over the wall, reminding us that fences need not be fraught with politics.

They can be fun, and a whimsical prelude to the return of the classical in the service of romance, melding both styles,

no longer antithetical, into a captivating pas de deux choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon.

Called After the Rain, it apotheosized Akua Noni Parker, a dazzling dancer dressed in a melon-colored leotard,

like a one-piece bathing suit, that showed her off as sensuous

and voluptuous, with long legs capable of anything the music of Arvo Part could ask of her.

Her partner, Jamar Roberts, the tallest man in the company as far as I could see, was elegant in long white pants,

and with a back so muscular you could understand why Parker trusted him to hoist her far overhead where she floated, as if on eagle’s wings, in derring-do that recalled Judith Jameson in her prime.

The evening closed with Revelations, a dance well named and made by Ailey himself.

Who could resist the grand finale, done to Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham?

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