Ailey troupe redeems time

February 15, 1991|By J. L. Conklin

"Forgotten Time," the company premiere by artistic director/choreographer Judith Jamison at the Mechanic Theatre last night, was Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's triumph in a program of dances weighed down by history.

All three dances choreographed by Mr. Ailey -- "Cry," "Revelations" and especially the opening work, "Night Creatures," felt well-worn and dated, although each had its moments. But, seen next to these popular and accessible dances, Ms. Jamison's full-company, abstract work is full of mystery and anticipation.

"Forgotten Time," has an internal logic of space-time and momentum with the bodies that constantly shift like desert sands, revealing pieces of lost civilization.

Bodies are often still. Like pillars, the dancers support one another's weight; then suddenly in the midst of a slow wave of unison, a dancer will splash across the stage. Time and space contract and expand to give a sensation of time travel and sights foreign and familiar.

Particularly notable is the way Ms. Jamison uses music -- succinctly and evenly. She allows the haunting score by the Bulgarian Women's Choir to point the dance's direction but doesn't mind when the dance needs to detour.

More than any other work on the program, "Forgotten Time" showed the steely stuff her dancers are made of. The free-flowing force propelled the company as men flipped the women, sat them on their shoulders or caught them in midair.

Two more company premieres are scheduled during the company's engagement at the Mechanic. A new work by Chris World and Donald McKayle's work "Games" are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23.

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