Years ago I saw Alvin Ailey American Dance company inside the Sony Centre. The repertoire was jazz infused and featured bar scenes as the backdrop. The dancing, spectacular, the show uninspiring. I lost interest in the company. I had not been back to see the company, until last night.
When the show opened with “Toccata” I was wondering if we were heading down the same path from years ago, the well-choreographed piece felt clunky, and seemed like a dress rehearsal.
After the 2 minute break, we were dazzled by the sheer perfection of Matthew Rushing in his solo piece against the backdrop of 3 soulful classic Love Songs from Donny Hathaway (A Song For You and He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother), Nina Simone (Poppies). If I could, I would watch his solo over and over. His body was an instrument as if it were part of the music composition. When Nina’s voice quivered his torso melted in unison. His movement and communication earned him a well-deserved standing ovation.
The world premiere of Exodus choreographed by Rennie Harris was the unexpected surprise of the night. Infused by house (my favourite genre) music, and paying homage to the dances and moves from the 80s, splintered with modern and classical moves, had me dancing in my seat and wanting to join them on stage. The audience couldn’t get enough and were on their feet in applause.
A fitting finale, the Cuban inspired “Open Door”, colourful and reminiscent of the 60s, with traditional Latin dances, was very entertaining. Strong applause and the third standing ovation for the night. I sensed the audience wanted more.
At the post-show reception Canadian born dancer Rachael McLaren told me that the Company may not be back for another 3 years based on their current touring schedule. One thing is for sure, I will be there.
There are 2 more shows today March 5, 2 pm and 8 pm, try to see one/both as they are different repertoires, if there are still tickets.