This week, playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith will perform with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, who are currently in the middle of their winter season at NY City Center. Deavere Smith (remember Twilight: Los Angeles 1992, about Rodney King, and Fires in the Mirror, about Crown Heights) will join the cast for a performance of Judith Jamison’s Hymn, Jamison’s 1993 Emmy award-winning homage to Alvin Ailey. Deavere Smith wrote the libretto and acts in the piece, which I haven’t yet seen live, but saw in a film. The excerpt I saw was excellent. A definite must-see (photo below by Andrew Eccles).
She’ll be performing December 16, 18, 19, and in the matinee on the 20th. She’s taking a break from her latest one-woman show, Let Me Down Easy, to perform with Ailey.
In addition to Hymn, Ailey’s also putting on several premieres this season: Jamison’s breathtaking Divining and Ronald K. Brown’s equally wondrous, African-based Dancing Spirit (which received loads of applause the other night, well deserved!), dancer Matthew Rushing’s sweet Uptown (a tribute to the Harlem Renaissance), Jamison’s Among Us (which I haven’t yet seen but will soon), and Robert Battle’s In-Side (ditto). In addition they’ve spiced up last year’s Festa Barocca, they’ve got a Best of 20 Years program — a compilation of the best work Jamison has commissioned during her time with the company, and company classics like Night Creature, Love Stories, Suite Otis, and of course the always uplifting, quintessentially American (probably the best American dance ever made, imo) — Revelations.
If you’re in NY (or anywhere else in the world where they tour), definitely don’t miss them. Go here for more info on the City Center season.
Above photo of Deavere Smith from University of Chicago.