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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater review at Sadlers Wells London

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is a must-see company – you will never see so much verve, gusto and joyous energy on one stage.

The male dancers in particular are something special – sharp, strong, stylish and full of attitude – led by Clifton Brown, full of boyish charm and fierce technique, a man who insouciantly throws off virtuoso tricks and leaves the audience drooling.

Yet, for such an amazing and distinctive group of dancers, the material doesn’t always do them justice.

In London AAADT is performing three different programmes before embarking on a national tour. Formed nearly 50 years ago, America’s first black dance company has a heritage worth celebrating and a huge back catalogue. The only brand new work on show here is The Groove to Nobody’s Business by young choreographer Camille A Brown but it’s a fairly mute starter.

Much better is fifties period piece The Road of the Phoebe Snow, a slick and stylised jazz ballet that fans of West Side Story or Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face will love. Also in the jazz programme is The Winter in Lisbon, Billy Wilson’s 1992 tribute to Dizzy Gillespie where the dancers jump into Gillespie’s infectious grooves, sitting tight on the intricate twists of a piano solo or turning up the heat on a mambo number.

Jazz dance is something we rarely see outside of the West End and all that feelgood pizzazz is a treat. Other programmes include plenty of founder Ailey’s own works, and look out for re-stagings of Maurice Bejart’s Firebird and Twyla Tharp’s The Golden Section, plus the company’s signature piece, Revelations.

Production Information

Sadler’s Wells, London, September 4-15, then touring until October 10

Camille A Brown, John Butler, Talley Beatty, Billy Wilson
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Cast includes
Clifton Brown, Alicia J Graf, Jamar Roberts, Matthew Rushing, Linda Celeste Sims
Running time

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