There is a lot of foot rubbing and neck rolling in the room when you hang out with five men from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on a morning after they've performed "The Hunt." The furious and powerful ensemble work serves as the main calling card for Robert Battle, artistic director designate, on Ailey's North American tour.
Robert Battle’s The Hunt premiered on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2010 as Mr. Battle’s first ballet set on the Company after it was announced that he would become the third Artistic Director in Ailey’s history.
Set to a wildly percussive soundtrack by Les Tambours du Bronx, this ballet for six men examines the relationship between modern sports and the rituals of the gladiators. Costumed in long black skirts with under layers of red, the dancers throw themselves into a pre-hunt ritual, clawing at their gaping mouths as they stomp and pound with thunderous power revealing the robust side of human nature and the thrill of the hunt. In 2008, The Boston Globe proclaimed “The evening’s most thrilling dance was The Hunt...A manic intensity...evoked the brutality of the hunters, the fear of the prey, and the exhaustion of the chase.”
Inspiration for the piece was derived from Mr. Battle’s background in martial arts. Replicating the intensity, skirted costumes and combative stances of the art form, the dancers take you inside a spirited ritual preparation for the hunt that tests their physical limits. Battle notes that The Hunt shows the versatility of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, while celebrating the masculine and powerful sides of the Company’s male dancers.