Season Crush

On Kirven Boyd! I usually end up with a horrible mad crush on one dancer per season and this year it’s him.

(Photos by Paul Kolnick all from Alvin Ailey website, above Kirven on left, Matthew Rushing on right)

Of late I’ve seen him dance with beautiful precision the third man in the quick-paced balletic “Solo” (top photo; I wrote about the piece here); the body-shaking “flag man” possessed by both spirit and rhythm in “Wade in the Water” from “Revelations;” the soft jazzy / modern solo at the opening of “Love Stories;” and the other night he was perfectly frightening while somehow managing to be charming as well, as the leader of the thugs in “The Road of the Phoebe Snow” (which I wrote about here). (Another thing I noticed, that I love about “Phoebe”: the ‘bad guys’ are wearing white and pink.)

“Love Stories” by the way is a dance in several parts with styles ranging from jazz / modern to hip hop, co-choreographed by AAADT director Judith Jamison, modern choreographer Robert Battle, and hip hop guru Rennie Harris. Music is by Stevie Wonder, and I think the title refers, basically to one’s love affair with dance. My favorite part is the beginning solo. Go here (scroll down to Love Stories) to see some excerpts. Clifton Brown is dancing the solo in this video. He’s been my crushee in years past, but I feel like now that he is so famous and every critic in the country and beyond is drooling all over him, it’s a little boring to have him as your favorite! That said, I thought Clifton was absolute magic a couple of years ago and I noticed this season he’s improved even further which I wouldn’t have thought possible. I do think he’s developed into one of the greatest dancers in the country now and it goes without saying you must see him dance if you ever have the chance!

On Thursday night, the company also premiered “Unfold” by Robert Battle, danced by Clifton with Linda Celeste Sims, this season’s royalty, as they seem to be dancing in just about every premiere. It was a very short pas de deux (only five minutes long), but beautiful. Danced to an aria brilliantly sung by Leontyne Price, it’s about, Battle says, the first meeting between a man and a woman. To me, it seemed to tell the story of a man’s discovering and becoming impassioned by this magical, ethereal creature. The curtain opens on Sims doing this breathtaking, and impossible-looking back arch, with no support, just on her own two feet. The position of her body and the way the fabric of her gown drapes in back, it had a spiritual, mystical feel. She looked otherworldly. Clifton sees her in the distance, becomes taken, approaches, pulls her to him, “unfolds” her, perhaps. They make various shapes together, her body alternating between convex and concave. At one point she’s on the floor, her torso and legs in the air, balancing only on the small of her back. He lunges over her and pulls her up; it’s beautiful. But too short! I do want to see more by this choreographer; his rep sounds very interesting. And Kirven danced with his company previously!

Perhaps another reason I like K: he participated in one of the company’s little Saturday post-show matinee talks I saw.

Sorry so dark; I didn’t want to use the flash. He’s in the white shirt. He was so cute talking about his training in Boston and with Ailey II (their studio company), giving little kids advice and signing autographs, etc. I think dancers should participate in more things like this so the public can get a chance to know them. That’s why Danny Tidwell, and Pasha, and Maks and all the DWTS dancers became so popular — of course they’re very skilled and charismatic dancers (people wouldn’t be so into them if they weren’t), but the public also got the chance to know them a bit outside of their dance lives by watching them chat about themselves and interact with others on TV shows. Not everyone can or will want to go on TV, but with the internet, everyone can blog a bit. I know, dancers hate blogging. There are still so few. The Ailey company has two blogs — written by dancer Matthew Rushing and choreographer Camille Brown, but they’re not proper blogs since there’s no comments section, so you can’t interact with them, and they’re very seldomly updated anyway. And you need to join Ailey’s e-club even to access them, which is very easy to do and free, but it prohibits bloggers like me from linking or anything.

Anyway, more on this later, I’m late for a ballroom competition!

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