December is never a breeze for an Alvin Ailey dancer, but recently — amid rehearsals and with a performance looming that evening — James Gilmer found himself in an empty closet on the studio side of New York City Center. Armed with a late lunch, he was using his only break of the day for an interview. But as he sees it, it’s better not to waste time.
Ailey has rightly earned its stripes as one of the nation's best dance companies, not just because of its history, but not in spite of it either. The company doesn't ignore its founder or allow itself to fade into antiquity... Apart from "Revelations," Ailey's 1960 masterpiece that comes standard at the end of every show the late choreographer's company performs in Chicago, this was an entirely new-to-us program of Chicago premieres... It starts with "Busk," by Canadian choreographer Aszure Barton, made in 2009 and added to Ailey's rep last year... Second on the bill, "Ode" (2019) is the latest work from Jamar Roberts, a company dancer recently named choreographer-in-residence (the first in the company's history to hold that title).