Curtain Up: Alvin Ailey Dancers Offer “Revelations” at Segerstrom Center

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RevelationsBrimming with soul-piercing power yet buoyed by an elegant joyousness, Alvin Ailey’s seminal creation “Revelations” has been a bucket list staple for more than 50 years.

The work remains fresh and 21st century relevant today, a true masterpiece imbued with a transformative force that transcends cultural, spiritual, economic and racial boundaries, speaking directly to the deepest and best in our universal human spirits.

This weekend and next, Orange County audiences can experience for themselves the unforgettable blending of artistry, athleticism, and evocative choreography when Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa.

The company kicks their visit off with a fun and free “Revelations Celebration” on the Arts Plaza this Saturday at noon, with company performers teaching the movements to “Rocka My Soul,” “Wade in the Water,” and “I’ve Been Buked.”

Next Wednesday is a mini-performance called “Discover Ailey” in Segerstrom Hall, and then the troupe gets down to business next weekend with two different repertory programs including three works that have never been performed on the West Coast before: Wayne McGregor’s “Chroma,” Bill T. Jones “D-Man in the Waters (Part I), and Aszure Barton’s “Lift,” as well as the African-American Spirituals-fueled “Revelations.”

“It’s been both life-changing and eye-opening for me,” explained long-time Ailey dancer, and Los Angeles native, Matthew Rushing of his more than two-decades of experiences withAiley “Revelations.”

“I feel like at this point in my career I truly have a relationship with it, almost as you would with another person,” he revealed during a phone interview while warming up backstage before the company’s recent show in Cedar Creek, Iowa. “It’s not really until these last few years that I’ve really felt comfortable in it.”

“Performing in ‘Revelations’ is challenging, and the challenges have changed because my life experiences have changed. When I was first with the company and dancing in ‘Sinner Man,’ I devoted all my energy to performing it at my best; whatever I had to give, I would give it. It was all about how many turns I could do. Now, with my solo for “I’m Not Ready,” it’s become more about how quiet I can be, how articulate. There’s no turning; it’s all simplicity, and that’s my challenge now: pure movement, uncensored imagery in a pool of light.”

Revelations2As thoughtful and insightful offstage as he is expressive and powerful on, Rushing epitomizes all that is great about Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: soul, passion, and a commitment to the kind of visceral visual poetry that culls the best from whomever it touches.

“There are times when I have been totally exhausted. I would look right and left at the dancers next to me before the curtain went up and there would be nothing left to give, from any of us” Rushing reflected. “But then the music starts and the journey begins… I feel “Revelations” has a power, this anointing, if you will, that not only takes over the dancers but the audience as well. And it is promised that we will be overwhelmed and full of joy every time.”

“Revelations Celebration” on the Arts Plaza is Saturday, March 22 from noon to 3 p.m. and is free. “Discover Ailey” mini-performance in Segerstrom Hall is Wednesday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $29. Full performances are March 27-30. Program A runs Thursday- Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Program B on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Members of the company will conduct preview lectures one hour prior to each performance. Tickets start at $25. Call (714) 556-2787 or visit www.SCFTA.org

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