Christopher Walker reviews Ailey – Classics

London’s claim to be the dance capital of Europe gets stronger every year.

Not least thanks to the pioneering work of Sadlers Wells Theatre, and the unique way it serves as London’s window onto the world of dance theatre globally.

We are treated to the very best of the art form on a weekly basis.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre Company is just such a treat.

They opened this week with an incredibly rich programme which contained all that is best of America’s positive energy, optimism and raw talent.

The highlight is an evening entitled Ailey – Classics. It is outstanding.

Alvin Ailey was a genius of dance who flourished in the 1960s,‘70s, and 80s.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Credit Photo: Paul Kolnik

He was black, and his company has become a superb showcase for the very best of black dance talent in the United States today.

From James Gilmer, a particular star of this company with a dominating stage presence, to Solomon Dumas, an inspirational new talent.

Ailey was also a southerner, born in Texas, the reddest of the red States. So while his work is incredibly uplifting it also has echoes of the traumatic black experience in the South.

Slavery is very much to the fore in his piece Revelations, choreographed in 1960, with a series of spirituals familiar to Southerners, and some beautifully crafted set pieces – Pilgrim of Sorrow, Take me to the Water and Move, members, Move.

Alvin Ailey’s Revelations 2022 ONG performance. Photo by Christopher Duggan

The level of dancing throughout is simply outstanding.

Cry written by Alvin Ailey shortly after his mother died as a tribute to her is extremely moving and Constance Stamatiou deserves every red rose in her lavish bouquet.

The River opened slowly, but soon demonstrated some extraordinary moments thanks to Xavier Mack and the stratospheric level of Ailey’s choreography.

I came away with two clear conclusions.

This is one of the best dance companies in the world.

And the fact that Ailey’s life was cut short by the horror of AIDS is yet another testimony to how that Pandemic stole many of the Arts’ greatest talents from us.


Picture:  Credit Photo: ©Paul Kolnikpaul@paulkolnik.comNYC 917-673-3003

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:


If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.