Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater | Dance Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

I've never liked Talley Beatty's The Stack-Up. For some reason, this 1982 piece sets my teeth on edge. Yet one of the advantages of a troupe like Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater--a regular visitor to Chicago, now in its 40th year--is that I can see this dance year after year and try to figure out what's wrong with it. There are also standbys I like, of course: Ailey's 1960 Revelations, for example--the benchmark of African-American dance. Sometimes it looks dated and obvious; sometimes it's glorious. I don't know why my perception of it changes from year to year, but I know I'm happy to watch it again and again. Then there's one of my all-time favorite choreographers, the late Ulysses Dove, whose 1984 Bad Blood is on some of the troupe's programs this weekend. And there are new pieces: Earl Mosley's childhood memoir Days Past, Not Forgotten; Donald Byrd's apocalyptic Fin de Siecle, a revival of George Faison's 1971 Slaves; and Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen's Polish Pieces. Of course, part of the Ailey company's attraction is the dancing, which never fails in its power and focus. "I hate minuscule anything," current artistic director Judith Jamison has said. "I prefer people who make blatant mistakes." I haven't seen many of those, nor do I expect to; what I have seen is dancing that doesn't recognize the limits of the human body. The troupe performs through Sunday (see dance listings for complete schedule) at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress; $16-$46 (half-price tickets to matinees for kids 12 and under when accompanied by an adult). Call 312-902-1500 for tickets, 773-722-5463 for information and group rates. --Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Roy Volkmann.

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