Complex Gifts


A whole bunch of people are doing something right: Besides being fierce technicians, the young dancers of Ailey II, under the direction of Sylvia Waters (Aaron Davis Hall, March 14 though 16), infuse their performances with heart and soul. As we’ve seen with their parent company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the approach can transform mediocre choreography. The Tyner Project, a competent but routine jazz-based piece by Troy Powell (the junior group’s resident choreographer), becomes an occasion for injecting complexity into generic types. Lovers are both sensuous and lyrical; a mystical figure is dramatic as well as delicate; there’s more to Mr. Show Biz than being the class clown. In Robert Battle’s The Hunt, a percussion-driven crowd pleaser for a sextet of male combatants, the dancers refrain from overselling bodies beautiful and testosterone-induced passions, emphasizing instead the ambiguities that lurk in the roles of attacker and victim. The approach makes for a swell show. —Tobi Tobias

A child hangs over the Joyce balcony banging in time to Steve Reich’s hypnotic score. The unflappable Ballet Tech, which combs city schools for its tuition-free dance program, must know from rambunctiousness. But when that child’s guardian follows flash photography with wild applause during Eliot Feld’s Behold the Man on March 15, audience patience runs its course. Subsequent chants of “No War, No Pain” are met with expletives from the orchestra seats. Is Feld having us on with an audience plant? Will the temperamental Mikhail Baryshnikov—up after a break—go on amid such ruckus? And do we really want a crazy in the balcony for the eerily titled Lincoln Portrait? The woman loudly defends her right to an anti-war protest, barking “Get real!” when informed she will not be returning to her seat. “Get out,” Feld publicist Audrey Ross ripostes as the two nearly come to blows before the whole mess tumbles out onto Eighth Avenue. —Tony Phillips

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 25, 2003

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