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Grace (new production): Choreographed by Ronald K. Brown
One of the most popular works in the Ailey repertory, Ronald K. Brown’s spellbinding Grace is a fervent tour-de-force depicting individuals on a journey to the promised land. Described by The New York Times as “astounding, something to be sensed as well as seen,” this spiritually-charged work is a rapturous blend of modern dance and West African idioms. As in many of Brown’s works, the movement alternates fluidly between extremes, with eruptions of power coupled with lightness. A serene solo for an angel-like figure in white gives way to fireball intensity as 12 dancers resembling urban warriors execute Brown’s whirling, pounding choreography, arms and legs slicing the air and fingers pointing to the sky.
Brown’s varied music choices closely reflect the heart of the work, with the spiritual grounding of Duke Ellington’s Come Sunday, the contemporary yet timeless house music vibe of Roy Davis’ “Gabriel,” and the West African and African-American traditions of Fela Kuti’s Afro-Pop beats.
Minus 16: Choreographed by Ohad Naharin
Featuring an eclectic score ranging from Dean Martin to mambo, techno to traditional Israeli music, Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16 uses improvisation and Naharin’s acclaimed “Gaga” method, a unique movement language that breaks down old habits, pushing the dancers to challenge themselves in new ways.
The work is unique in the Ailey repertory for removing the barrier between performers and spectators, and inviting members of the audience onstage to become part of the dance. "Minus 16 not only delights in its own wackiness, but also celebrates the joy of dancing,” said the San Francisco Chronicle.
Having spectators join in brings an element of unpredictability and fun that makes each performance of Minus 16 delightfully different. Artistic Director Robert Battle recalled one performance when a woman lost her wig onstage. “When the dancer who was her partner whispered ‘I’m so sorry’ she said, ‘I’m 70 years old and having the time of my life.’”
Revelations: Choreographed by Alvin Ailey
Using African-American spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues, Alvin Ailey’s Revelations fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul. More than just a popular dance work, it has become a cultural treasure, beloved by generations of fans.
Seeing Revelations for the first time or the hundredth can be a transcendent experience, with audiences cheering, singing along and dancing in their seats from the opening notes of the plaintive “I Been ’Buked” to the rousing “Wade in the Water” and the triumphant finale, “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.”