World Dance Celebration - NYC Dance Week
‘Dance comes from the people and should be given back to the people’ – this was Alvin Ailey’s legacy that now lives through his school’s Ailey Extension, a program dedicated to bringing dance to every person in the community whether they are a trained dancer or not. This year’s NYC Dance Week kicked off with the World Dance Celebration performances by the Extension Program, allowing dancers from every background to perform on the prestigious Ailey Citigroup Theater stage, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most of these amateur dancers. World Dance Celebration brought together 10 acts and over 150 dancers and musicians to showcase the various styles offered through the adult program. The performers took the audience on a journey across the globe to Ghana, Lebanon, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Brazil, India, and Persia with a long list of eclectic dances from West African to Belly Jazz. Vibrant, colorful costumes along with incredible music, both live and pre-recorded, kept the audience completely entertained with a huge spectrum of dance forms and of course, dance levels. Quenia Ribeiro’s Samba Do Rio included over 50 dancers dressed in sequined outfits, feathered headpieces, and heels samba-ing their way on the stage as if they were on the streets of Rio Di Janeiro for the country’s largest party, Carnival. It was a party, and as the band of drummers kept the Samba rhythm going like a heartbeat, the ladies danced in their pompous outfits, enjoying their time on stage as their feet kept them afloat.
Sarina Jain’s Ishq Hua (Love Happened) opened the second half of the show with a Bollywood power piece, featuring 40 perfectly synchronized dancers in 40 perfectly matching outfits. The stage was completely filled with festooning, green pants and vibrant, multi-colored tops, henna-covered hands and feet, bejeweled bindis on every forehead, and of course the sound of jingling bangles coming from each, delicate wrist. The Masala Bhangra® piece was a mixture of Bollywood glam and traditional bhangra with an improvisational solo by Jain herself.
Both of these mega-numbers wowed the audience with their size, choreography, costumes and music, but when the Sabar number (Senegalese dance) by Babacar M’Baye exploded on the stage with his three live drummers and 10 dancers, the electricity in the room could not be ignored. This unexplainable energy pulsated through the audience, and the loud ‘pop’ of the drums initially was a jolt to the system, then transforming into a drug that the audience could not get enough of. The dancers came in with no inhibitions, taking the stage with authority and vivacity. A dance circle formed, and each of the dancers’ own personalities came out through their movements and the conversation M’Baye was having with them through his drum. They each told a story, some funny, some serious, some sultry, but each had her own voice with the movements of her body. It was truly incredible to witness.
The World Dance Celebration was a joy to watch, and not because these dancers were perfect – by no means – but you were reminded why we dance in the first place. Dancing is a way that people celebrate and communicate together on multiple levels. In a city as professional and cut-throat as New York, it is refreshing to see these opportunities open up to the average person of first taking the big leap to take a dance class; and then second, taking the ultimate step by performing in front of hundreds of strangers on stage. Kudos to all of the Ailey Extension dancers and to the program itself for truly continuing Mr. Ailey’s legacy after all of these years. Thank you, Alvin Ailey!
THE BARE FEET™ FIVE: 1. NYC Dance Week: NYC Dance Week continues through Sunday, June 30th, 2012 and FREE classes are being offered throughout the city. Be sure to go to NYCDanceWeek.org and register now!
2. Free classes at Ailey! The Ailey Extension is also affiliated with the FREE dance class promotion thru NYC Dance Week, so try a class today!
4. Ailey on Tour: The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Ailey II Companies are currently on tour in Europe and Israel for the remainder of the summer – check the full schedule for details!
5. Masala Bhangra®: Sarina Jain is known as the ‘Indian Jane Fonda’, combining her Indian heritage with her love for fitness. Masala Bhangra® classes are offered worldwide, be sure to jump in today!