Metro Atlantans awed by legendary dance troupe

By LaJenine T. Wilson Contributing Writer | 2/22/2013, noon
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returned to the Fox Theater this past weekend to continue its longstanding history of ...
(Photo by Vincent Christie).

ATLANTA – The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returned to the Fox Theater this past weekend to continue its longstanding history of delivering culturally relevant performances to the masses.

For four straight shows, the electrifying combination of music, art and expertly crafted choreography brought throngs of theatergoers to their feet.

From the traditional to the contemporary, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was not only visually appealing, says Marietta resident Ladonna Griffin, it was spiritually fulfilling as well.

“There just aren’t a lot of shows that leave you with this kind of energy,” Griffin said. “But that’s exactly what Alvin Ailey does… The energy and the creativity that goes into every performance is truly uplifting.”

Inspiring and uplifting patrons through seemingly flawless performances, however, does not come easy, dancers say. It takes lots of physical stamina, and a great deal of passion, too.

Just ask longtime Alvin Ailey dancer, Renee Robinson. She’s been doing it for 30 years.

“It has been such an honor having performed for Mr. Ailey, and then Judith Jamison and now Robert Battle,” Robinson said. “Having worked so closely with the caliber of talent and artistic vision these three individuals possess has been for me the greatest reward.”

Known for her regal performances, Robinson took center stage in what is now being called her farewell performance.

An Ailey favorite for over 30 years, Robinson is not only the last remaining company member selected by founder Alvin Ailey, but she is also the only dancer to have performed under all three artistic directors: Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison and current Artistic Director, Robert Battle.

“For me, I see it as nothing but a blessing,” said Robinson, who did not disclose her age. “To still be accepted and respected from the very beginning until now is an honor I don’t take for granted.”

And while Robinson takes great pride in her history with the company, she is equally as proud of the dancers she has come in contact with over the years.

“I have worked with some great people... I mean some truly, truly wonderful people,” Robinson said. “And when you work with people who share in your passion to be the best at this thing, whatever that thing may be, the results are nothing short of spectacular.”

In addition to some of the crowd favorites like “I Been Buked,” “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel,” “Fix Me, Jesus” and “Sinner Man,” theatergoers also were treated to some new additions like “Home,” “Takademe” and “The Hunt.”

And while audience members embraced the new additions, no Alvin Ailey production would be complete without Ailey’s signature piece, Revelations.

Once considered by Ailey himself to be both sorrowful and jubilant at the same time, Revelations has been performed for audiences around the world and continues to be an Ailey favorite.

Just ask Teresa Willis. The Atlanta resident said the dance company’s performance of Revelations is something she can see over and over again.

“It’s always so moving to watch,” said Willis. “It’s almost like watching your favorite movie… you already know how it’s going to end, but you still can’t turn away.”

Willis, 49, said she is a regular Alvin Ailey attendee who makes time in her schedule to attend the performance whenever it comes to Atlanta.

“It just gives me chills, it’s so inspiring,” she said. “I wouldn’t miss it, and we as people of color shouldn’t miss it, either.

“If we can find the time for everything else, then we should definitely find time for something that is going to uplift and motivate us as a people.”