Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Ziff Ballet Opera House, Miami, FL

“Taking a stand means taking a seat to see something that represents the best of humanity”

Robert Battle, Artistic Director and native Miamian

Tension.  It suffocates many of us.  We all feel it.  Pushing us forward, holding us back.  The anxious, tight space of some foreboding, some looming over us in the future or in the past.  It is a space filled with energy.  Harnessing it is a feat, but once accomplished, powerful and moving.

This weekend’s performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater did just that – used the energy from the spaces between the music, between the dancers, between our ideas of is and should be – to create a profound illustration of what CAN be.  Three acts in total, seemingly isolated in time, style and execution, yet all inextricably wound with the tension of the individual and their role in society.

Stack-Up, choreographed in 1982 by the renowned Talley Beatty, is a disco-funk study of cliques and how an individual can get lost amidst the hustle.   Groups of satin-slicked dancers weave in, out and about each other as the central figure – a tall, handsome and quite strapping young man played by Jamar Roberts, is left out and alone.  Having not the use of words but the endless myriad of movement and expression, one gets the sense that “handsome and popular” does not keep one warm on a crisp evening.  A second facet of this lively piece is of a young couple, attractive and in love, torn apart by the rigors of addiction.  Expertly interpreted by Yannick Lebrun and Constance Stamatiou, we are afforded an intimate view into the confusion and dissonance that addiction carries.

Victoria, a product of Gustavo Ramirez Sansano of San Fulgencia, Spain, is an abrupt shift to an industrial, futuristic winter.  The music, eerie and shrill, is part score from Hitchcock’s The Birds and part overture from Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.  Dancers succeed across the stage recapitulating a jerking, feverish set of gyrations, oddly matched to the uncomfortable sounds of the composition. In unison and in dissonance, each trapped in the repetition, we sense their angst and question our own.  The dance is a study of the agitated rhythms we all follow in our modern day lives and how they sequester us from each other, and from ourselves.

Finally, in a welcome and impressive close, Revelations, Alvin Ailey’s magnum opus choreographed in 1960, takes us through the solemn and candid trials of the slave experience to the whimsical jubilation of assimilation with the establishment.  Simplicity in sound, color and movement, coupled with selected hymns, add gravitas to the solemnness of this piece.  It is a true ode to the journey of a people through the strain of exile and slavery … and jubilant testament to their triumphs.

In a world where the horrors of violence and intolerance continue to mount, a peaceful evening amongst fellow theater goers is just the salve we all need to restore a bit of hope in the goodness and beauty in each of us.  The performances by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater accomplish just that in spades, offering a welcome moment of quite amity shared by all in the Ziff Ballet Opera House.

 

 

 

 

 

A4L’s Really BIG pARTy

Arts 4 Learning is a non-profit organization committed to providing children with the chance to create.

On Thursday, March 1, 2018, Arts 4 Learning will host its Really BIG pARTy encouraging participants to become more hands-on in the visual and performing arts. There will, of course, be live music, food, drinks, and dancing. Come out to The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, 404 NW 26th Street, Miami, Fl 33127 to participate and get more involved. MAB will be there.

 

For further information, visit A4L’s Facebook page.

Find out more about A4L’s Really BIG pARTy here.

You can also follow and interact with A4L on Instagram (@A4LMiami) and Twitter (@A4LMiami).

Hope to see you there!

 

Signe and Genna Grushvenko

Signe and Genna Grushovenko

The Grushovenko’s produce massive oil on canvas paintings depicting vintage American iconography from the 60s and 70s. The figures appearing in the paintings are reduced to minimal form providing the viewer only with an archetypal form as a visual reference point. The negative space in these paintings features prominently, protruding through every figure permitting the nearly illustrative paintings to breathe organically. More on these paintings here.

Stephen Potts

Stephen Potts

Stephen Potts combines turned wood sculpture with natural stone/ mineral adornments in the creation of these visually appealing decorative pieces. He achieves the high gloss finishes on the wooden sculpture using a lacquer that he developed. He uses a variety of exotic woods to achieve a wide variety of visual effects.

Yeins Gomez

Yeins Gomez

Yeins Gomez welds his sculpture from forged steel, then grinds and paints the final product. The medium is less striking than the tensions that he is able to achieve due to the strength of the material. Several of his sculptures rotate, bend, and lean into space creating the visual effect of figures exerting, or reacting to external, force. Above, Gomez’ Angel appears to display both properties leaning forward at the precipice of flight, simultaneously conjuring the visual effect of gravity and the sensation that the figure is overcoming the external force.

Brad Ruppert

Brad Ruppert

Brad Ruppert creates images using vintage materials such as wire, vintage ceiling tin, watch parts, vintage fabrics and architectural salvage. The artist’s assemblages utilize several textures in the depiction of wildlife achieving a quaint yet sophisticated effect.

David Burton

David Burton

David Burton creates entertaining pop assemblages incorporating found objects, toys, epoxy, and paint. The objects he creates are free standing in the round, and high reliefs protruding from their frames. These works are packed with pop iconography and humorous juxtapositions. Burton leaves little to the imagination vis a vis his inspirations with titles such as, “The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test.” Ken Kesey would be proud.

Suzy Scarborough

Suzy Scarborough

Suzy Scarborough’s decoupage wall panels incorporate elements of printed literature, cartography, photography, and reproductions of fine art pieces and artist portraits throughout history. Each piece had a golden patina not detectable in our sub-optimal reproduction, but that lends an antique-object aesthetic to her objects. These are light and fun conversation pieces for those with even baseline art historical knowledge (in the above e.g., Gaugin).

Tai Taeoalii

Tai Taeoalii

Tai Taeoalii creates highly graphic pop art/surreal images using ballpoint pens and various other media on paper support. His subject matter and symbolic reference points owe much to Dali’s surrealism and the street art symbols popularized by Banksy, etc., but his work is entertaining and visually appealing.

Amanda Outcalt

Amanda Outcalt

Amanda Outcalt creates charming multi-media assemblages that include embroidery, intaglio printmaking, and needlework elements. The intaglios were largely renditions of wildlife–a time honored subject matter that facilitates the benefits of this printmaking process. The printmaking elements are cut out and adhered to a larger paper support.  The intaglios lend a highly graphic focal point that do well to prevent the works from floating in the huge unfinished negative spaces lurking in each piece. There will be more on this elsewhere. You can learn more about the process and artist here.