Ailey and the Legacy
e jerry powell | Austin, TX USA | 10/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the first dance collection taped by the Ailey Company after Ailey's tragic death from AIDS in December 1989 and Judith Jamison's subsequent appointment as Artistic Director days later. It also contains one of the only taped performances available of a work Ailey created for a company other than his own, the solo "Witness," created in 1986 for the Royal Danish Ballet (the soloist here, Marilyn Banks, ironically now teaches dance in Denmark). This two-hour tape was actually presented with slightly different editing as two hour-long Dance in America presentations on PBS. April Berry is luminous as longtime Ailey friend Joyce Trisler (a role more closely identified with her Ailey predecessor Donna Wood) in "Memoria" (1979), and as tortured jazz great Charlie Parker, the late Gary DeLoatch gives a tour-de-force performance in "For Bird With Love." The real stars of this video, in my opinion, are the then-relative newcomers to the troupe, Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, featured in supporting roles as musicians close to Parker in "For Bird . . ." and in central roles in the late Ulysses Dove's "Episodes" (1991). Desmond Richardson says more with just his right arm in either ballet than some novelists can write in 300 pages.The only drawback to this particular tape, I feel, is that Jamison's comments about each piece could have been more tightly edited, but that's what fast-forward buttons are for. Enjoy the dance!"
A CONTRIBUTOR TO AMERICAN DANCE HISTORY
drkhimxz | Freehold, NJ, USA | 07/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have no idea of how this tribute to Ailey will strike those who know his work well. I do not. For me it was both enlightening and invigorating. At least from the examples here given, he worked out of a healthy mainstream to create his own variation on many themes. The dancers seem to do very well what they were supposed to do and were very likely to be able to perform in other styles as needed. I should think the Charlie Parker piece will resonate most with the casual viewer although it would seem to me that identifying characters in the dance with specific real life models will detract from one's pleasure. It is the dancer as symbol of emotional states that creates the impact not the reality of any particular person.
Overall, then, a very good way for those unfamiliar with Ailey's contributions to begin to appreciate them. I should think others, as with some of the reviewers, will enjoy seeing again the unrepeatable performances of these particular artists."