Black Music

Roussève's a postmodernist; you neither expect nor get straightforward narrative. In some of the most crucial moments, Charmaine Warren and Steven Washington play Sarah and John (both with tremendous emotional power). But, in fact, anyone—black or white, male or female—who puts on a blue shawl can be Sarah; a red shirt identifies John. There may be more than one of each. The story itself becomes a winding river into which Roussève dips, while also adventuring into tender, flowing dance passages and contemporary vignettes of desire and bondage. Terry Hollis urges gym buddy Kyle Sheldon to test his pecs for hardness; Sheldon doesn't want to let go. Hooting with glee, Roussève and Hollis wrap Ilaan Egeland in toilet paper and draw "ideal" characteristics on her. Julie Tolentino Wood dresses the evidently dead Egeland in a new red dress and tries to get her to dance. Roussève, miraculously shifting identities and voices in midphrase, tells tales of love's power; with no one to hold his hand, a person can shrivel away.


St. James Theatre

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
City Center
Through January 2

David RoussŤve/Reality
Brooklyn Academy of Music

Roussève is a wonderfully clever writer, twisting words into a pungent, sophisticated poetry with a down-home twang. Love Songs (greatly enhanced by Beverly Emmons's lighting, Debby Lee Cohen's sets, and Carol Pelletier's costumes) is so stunning so much of the time—harrowing, poignant, funny—that I yearn to see the excesses pruned away and the awkward places resolved in order that it may dig even deeper into the heart.

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