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Dance Review

Alvin Ailey Troupe Turns On the Power

March 23, 1998|JENNIFER FISHER

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater had the audience so firmly placed in the palm of its hand on Saturday night, not even the untimely ring of a cellular phone during a quiet moment of the wrenching solo "Cry" could detract from the dance's power. The compelling Nasha Thomas-Schmitt, who made Ailey's familiar "Cry" speak as resolutely as ever, was so electric, she easily over-rode a briefly insistent electronic whine. This is a company, after all, that has made an art form of defiant movement and gestures of resolve, and when they are good--as on Saturday night--they are very, very strong.

Other pieces on the company's second program at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion also offered multiple moments of audience delight and opportunities for dancers to shine. During the stretch-fling-and-boogie disco fest of Talley Beatty's "The Stack-Up" (to several selections of percussively hyperactive '70s music), corps members had fun becoming too sexy for their shirts, while the amazingly articulate Troy O'Neil Powell and attitude-laden Don Bellamy got gritty in a strobing spotlight.

Ailey's "Night Creature," to eponymous music by Duke Ellington, also played with images of coolness, this time on a sort of starlit playground where studied indifference meets hips that speak volumes. Vikkia Lambert was the hippest of the hip, with her flashing eyes, rebuffing gestures and seriously savvy style.The well-balanced program to taped music concluded with the welcome ritual of Ailey's "Revelations," with spirituals sung live by the eloquently forceful Bam Crawford's Purpose choir. No cellular phones risked ringing during this celebration--although an incoming call during "Oh sinner man, where you gonna run to?" might have been particularly apt.

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