|The Pleasure of the Lesson. Photo: Paul Kolnik|
At this point, the Ailey company has more active repertory not by Alvin Ailey than by the company's founder. It has become one of the world's larger commissioners and remounters of contemporary dance, by default. One of the season's premieres, The Pleasure of the Lesson, is by Bay Area-based Robert Moses, who also created the score with David Worm. It was performed in the company's Koch Theater spring season.
Moses knows how to craft handsome stage compositions. The dancers arrange themselves in columns, ovals, and lines both parallel and at 90º angles. A woman, lying on a raft of men, rolls atop them and is subsumed by bodies on occasion. In a repeating series of funky lifts, the women sail upward with limbs askew. There's a lot of new stuff to look at, plastically speaking.
The five female/male couples, clad in Jon Taylor's hot- or flesh-colored pieces—panel skirts, short for the women, long for the men; shoulder shrugs, halter tops—were bathed in similarly warm-hued lighting (by Al Crawford). The score varies between sounds, rhythms, and spoken text, most of it unintelligible, and therefore transformed into frustrating background texture. If its meaning underpinned the movement, it was lost in space.
|Jacqueline Green in The Pleasure of the Lesson. Photo: Paul Kolnik|
Rounding out the bill was Wayne McGregor's Chroma, in its second season with Ailey. It worked better at City Center where the shadow box set fit more tightly within the proscenium, and where the audience sits closer to the stage so the dancers are more visible and accessible in this somewhat remote, often dimly-lit piece (that is, when it's not lit bright white). The mostly berry-hued spaghetti strap camisoles are still problematic, at least for the men, and their thigh-joint length chops the dancers' lines in half. McGregor's style might be suited better to ballet-dedicated bodies, as it felt lacking in crispness, if imbued with power. But it remains an interesting curatorial choice. And a note on Jacqueline Green, who performed in all three dances, and who is fast becoming one of the most thrilling dancers in this top-level troupe.