Pasatiempo - - In Other Words - Michael Wade Simp­son

“Rev” is the nick­name given by the Alvin Ai­ley dancers to the one piece they could all prob­a­bly dance with their eyes closed. Rev­e­la­tions, set to tra­di­tional spir­i­tu­als and gospel mu­sic, was chore­ographed by Ai­ley in 1960 and has been per­formed by the com­pany at prac­ti­cally ev­ery en­gage­ment, in ev­ery city, all over the world, since 1962. Au­di­ences never seem to tire of see­ing this ac­tion-packed and up­lift­ing piece, but how do the dancers man­age to do it thou­sands of times?

“That’s what I wanted to know,” said Jac­que­line Green, who is in her first year with Ai­ley II, the ju­nior com­pany of Alvin Ai­ley Amer­i­can Dance Theater. Ai­ley II ap­pears at the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter on Satur­day, Feb. 5. Green re­cently spoke with Pasatiempo from Ore­gon, where the com­pany was per­form­ing. When Ai­ley II puts on Rev­e­la­tions in Santa Fe, Green will be tak­ing the part made fa­mous by com­pany artis­tic di­rec­tor, Ju­dith Jami­son — that is, the dancer with the um­brella in the “Wade in the Wa­ter” sec­tion.

“Of all the so­los in the dance, that was the one I dreamed about do­ing,” Green said. “I’ve heard that the way Ms. Jami­son moved was like wa­ter. She made her body rip­ply. Her back was fluid. She was guid­ing the other dancers into the river by be­com­ing like wa­ter.”

The good thing about a piece like Rev­e­la­tions, at least for the 12 up-and-com­ing dancers of the sec­ond com­pany, is that there are a lot of vet­er­ans around to an­swer ques­tions. Many first com­pany mem­bers — and for­mer mem­bers — teach classes and coach the young dancers at the Ai­ley stu­dios, and oth­ers are around schools in New York City of­fer­ing ad­vice. The “um­brella dancer” was de­signed to be the over­seer of a bap­tism, guid­ing peo­ple into the wa­ter. “That’s me. I’m that way with my friends. I’m like the mother. I’m a nat­u­ral in that part,” Green said.

An­other sec­tion in Rev­e­la­tions fea­tures the spir­i­tual “Fix Me, Je­sus.” It was vet­eran com­pany mem­ber Dud­ley Wil­liams who told Green that the dance was ac­tu­ally a duet be­tween a woman and a male fig­ure rep­re­sent­ing God. “The fe­male never looks at the male in that part,” she said. “But the male is al­ways there to catch her when she starts to fall. It makes sense. I like that in­ter­pre­ta­tion.”

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