When the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble performed and gave workshops last weekend at the Howard County Center for the Arts, it was yet another tangible sign of the residency agreement between the New York-based modern dance organization and the state of Maryland.
In Howard County alone, for instance, there is even more Ailey activity on the way. The main company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, will perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion June 27 as part of the Columbia Festival of the Arts. That same day, Ailey artistic director Judith Jamison will lead a choreography workshop at the Howard County center.
The Ailey's second company, the Repertory Ensemble, was in Howard County last weekend as part of a series sponsored by Kinetics Dance Theatre. The booking was certainly a morale booster for Kinetics, whose artistic director, Dorothy Fried, recently resigned. "Kinetics is in a state of flux," she said after Saturday's performance, with various administrative changes yet to be decided by the board of directors.
As for the Ailey Repertory Ensemble, it proved to be no slouch by second company standards. Whether twirling in regal rose and purple skirts through various courtship rites in Alvin Ailey's 1983 "Isba," or engaging in an angry and angular business-suited battle of the sexes in choreographer Kathryn Posin's 1990 "Hunger and Thirst," the dancers were consistently confident in their moves.
The program also included Mr. Ailey's spirituals-inspired signature piece, "Revelations" (1960), seen in this venue to less than ideal advantage. The seating is too close and low to the dance floor in this Ellicott City facility for visual effects like the joyously upraised white umbrella to fully register.
It's nice to know, however, that major renovations are planned for the arts center.