American Dance Guild, Joniece Boykins, Photo: Alexander Bryant
American Dance Guild, Joniece Boykins, Photo: Alexander Bryant
The Dance Enthusiast

60 Years of Ailey Ascending: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Wayne McGregor's "KAIROS"

60 Years of Ailey Ascending: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Wayne McGregor's "KAIROS"
Serena S.Y. Hsu

By Serena S.Y. Hsu
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Published on December 19, 2018
Photo by Serena S.Y. Hsu

Choreographer: Wayne McGregor

Costumes: Moritz Junge / Lighting: Lucy Carter / Scenic Design: Idris Khan

Music: "Vivaldi – The Four Seasons Recomposed” / Composer: Max Richter

Restager: Antoine Vereecken


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at New York City Center until December 30 (for programs and tickets click here)


KAIROS is a visually rapturous work. In its climatic U.S. premiere, the dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater stay true to Wayne McGregor’s intellectual brilliance without sacrificing the trademark spirituality of Ailey. 

for barechested Black men extend their arms out in front of them
Jamar Roberts (center foreground) with Solomon Dumas, Yannik Lebrun, and Chalvar Monteiro (background l-r). Photo Serena S.Y. Hsu |ZUMA Press

The word "kairos" in ancient Greek history referred to the critical opportune moment of time, while the modern Greek definition signifies the weather. Both concepts are expressed in the cascading beauty of Antonio Vivaldi’s concerti, The Four Seasons (1725).  The classical masterpiece has been re-assembled and re-interpreted by Max Richter, the acclaimed film and minimalist composer.

Reminiscent of windswept leaves or the rippled reflections on water, the dancers' limbs whip and twist. Nature resounds within the violin's joyous riffs and the sweeping bow techniques of other stringed instruments.

Foreground: Samantha Figgins with Chalvar Monteiro. At right is Michael Francis McBride. Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu |ZUMA Press

"I'm obsessed with the technology of the body. (It) is the most technologically literate thing we have.  I'm absolutely obsessed with finding a way of communicating ideas through the body to audiences that might move them, touch them, help them think differently about things." McGregorsays in a TEDTalks from September 12, 2012.

McGregor’s choreographic tempest, filled with powerhouse motion tightly weaves through the rapidly paced instrumentals.

Samantha Figgins with Chalvar Monteiro (foreground). Solomon Dumas with Jamar Roberts (background l-r). Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu |ZUMA Press
From l-r: Yannik Lebrun, Chalvar Monteiro, Jamar Roberts, Solomon Dumas, and Michael Francis McBride. Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu |ZUMA Press

"Choreography is a collaborative process of physical thinking… I work with anthropologists, neuroscientists, cognitive scientists. People can come from different... domains of expertise. (They) bring their intelligence to bear on a different kind of creative process." Wayne McGregor, TEDTalks

Samantha Figgins with Michael Francis McBride. Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu |ZUMA Press

 

"I am passionate about dance and I am also really passionate about creativity. (You) can find out things about your own personal physical signature, and your own cognitive habits and use that as a point of departure to misbehave beautifully." Wayne McGregor, TEDTalks

Jacquelin Harris and Chalvar Monteiro. Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu |ZUMA Press

From l-r: Chalvar Monteiro and Jamar Roberts. Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu |ZUMA Press


Sarah Daley-Perdomo and Yannik Lebrun. Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu |ZUMA Press
Sarah Daley-Perdomo and Yannik Lebrun. Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu |ZUMA Press
Sarah Daley-Perdomo and Yannik Lebrun. Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu |ZUMA Press

Spinning, angled dancers punctuate space, almost resembling musical notations. The translucent front and backdrop scrims, created by set designer Idris Khan, actually convert to sheets of music. 

Sarah Daley-Perdomo and Yannik Lebrun. Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu |ZUMA Press
Yannik Lebrun. Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu |ZUMA Press

 "McGregor plays with space" – Antoine Vereecken, KAIROS restager

Yannik Lebrun and Solomon Dumas (l-r) with Jacqueline Green. Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu |ZUMA Press

From l-r: Solomon Dumas, Jacqueline Green, and Yannik Lebrun. Photo: Serena S.Y. Hsu |ZUMA Press

"What I love about Wayne McGregor’s work is that he really pushes the physicality to its limits using a lot of the classical ballet line (but) with the McGregor touch. The work does not hold back. It’s full of these daring lifts and jumps, but within the work itself there is tenderness… and dramatic context." Robert Battle, the Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater"


Wayne McGregor, a multiple awards-winning British choreographer and director, is world-renowned for his intricate techno-forward multimedia productions and fascinating cutting-edge collaborations for stage (both theatre and opera), film (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Tarzan, Fantastic Beasts 1 & 2, Mary Queen of Scots) and commercial work (music videos, fashion shows, and television). He has choreographed several works for Paris Opera Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, New York City Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, and Nederlands Dans Theater. He is Artistic Director of Company Wayne McGregor, the Resident Company of Sadler Well’s London and is a Resident Choreographer for The Royal Ballet. McGregor is winner of four Critics Circle Awards, two Laurence Olivier Awards, a Prix Benois de la Danse, and two Golden Mask awards.


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