Between the musical scenes, Rushing interpolates more intimate and thoughtful solos, sensitively keyed to texts of the era. Vernard J. Gilmore dances while the recorded voice of W.E.B. DuBois remembers the founding of the NAACP. Ruby Dee (also recorded) reads a passage from Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, as Briana Reed gestures appropriately. Clifton Brown eloquently responds to Carl Hancock Rux’s reading of Langston Hughes’s poem “The Weary Blues.”

The premiere of Uptown followed a revival of Ulysses Dove’s Episodes, in which the Ailey dancers get to show their chops and then some. Love it or loathe it, this 1987 work is all of a piece, never deviating from its integral form: brief encounters by glamorous, powerful, angry men and woman along pathways of light. Sims, Deshauteurs, Reed, Constance Stamatiou, Brown, Boyd, Machanic, Gilmore, and Guillermo Asca perform it with deadly brilliance. Predatory, hostile, as tense as cats in heat, they respond over and over to Robert Ruggieri’s terrific, cosmically percussive score by sudden thrusts and strikes that freeze for a second, then melt sensuously, after which they stride on. It takes two seconds or less for a woman to hurl herself, spinning, into the air and be grabbed by a man. Uptowngives these superb dancers back to us as more nuanced human beings.

Harlem Renaissance redux: Yusha-Marie Sorzano and Linda Celeste Sims in Matthew Rushing’s "Uptown."
Paul Kolnik
Harlem Renaissance redux: Yusha-Marie Sorzano and Linda Celeste Sims in Matthew Rushing’s "Uptown."

Details

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
City Center
December 2 through January 3

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And Judy—Miss Jamison—thanks for everything.

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