Dance review: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Akua Noni Parker and Jamar Roberts in Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain Pas de Deux. Photo by Paul Kolnik
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Akua Noni Parker and Jamar Roberts in Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain Pas de Deux. Photo by Paul Kolnik
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It’s six years since Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater last visited Scotland, but dance fans have long memories. When a company is this good, we don’t need a constant reminder of why missing them is not an option.

A loud and appreciative Festival Theatre crowd proved just how adored this New York outfit is (nobody applauds quite like an Ailey audience), and with good reason.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater *****

Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Over two nights, each with a different programme, the dancers delivered works which were drenched in heritage yet felt sparkling and fresh.

Choreographer Ronald K Brown has a movement vocabulary grounded in West African traditions, and both Four Corners and Open Door brought out a fluidity in the dancers that was almost hypnotic. Similarly, Rennie Harris’s Exodus, inspired by police shootings of black civilians, was delivered with a loose-limbed hip hop style that had a remarkable capacity for both poignancy and joyfulness.

Paul Taylor is one of America’s founding fathers of modern dance, but his tango-inspired Piazzolla Caldera took on a whole new flavour in the arms and legs of Ailey dancers. Sassy, sensual and suitably libatious, the piece captured all the human emotions you find during a night on the town.

Classical ballet also found a new home in the Ailey stable, with Christopher Wheeldon’s gorgeously tender After the Rain Pas de Deux. But, of course, Ailey fans all walk away remembering one piece more than any other – Revelations, created by Ailey himself 56 years ago and still as wonderful as ever.