Whatever you may say about Robert Battle's new "Awakening," you can be sure that it resembles little else in the repertoire of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which opened its annual Berkeley residency Tuesday, March 29, at UC's Zellerbach Hall. That is the first dance Battle has made for the company since he became artistic director five years ago may have something to do with it.
Now approaching its 60th anniversary, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has, since the death of its founder, in 1989, been a troupe of fine dancers in search of choreography. New York City Ballet continues to perform the considerable body of work that George Balanchine left behind; Ailey's company, now helmed by Robert Battle, has not been as fortunate.
Can you remember an inspirational experience that changed your life? Robert Battle certainly can.
With an adrenaline-fueled rush, Robert Battle's "Awakening" ushers in a new era for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. But while it feels like a departure for both Battle as choreographer and for the company, in truth "Awakening" in many ways continues Alvin Ailey's vision.