Thursday, July 06, 2006

A fresh definition of sensuality in motion

Alvin Ailey Dancers Turn Up the Heat at Paris Festival
PARIS, July 5 — There was color, passion, lyricism, energy and loads of talent, but what really won over a large crowd of Parisians to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater this week was something all too often overlooked amid the abstraction and intellectualism of contemporary dance. Sexiness.
True, the French are meant to be experts in these matters. And love, sex and eroticism all parade noisily through French advertising, literature and movies. Yet on Tuesday, with the first of five programs being presented here through July 22, the Ailey dancers offered Parisians a fresh definition of sensuality in motion. No doubt it helped that this week's program revolves around jazz. So amid lifts, leaps, spins and arabesques, there was jive, mambo, merengue and more. Put differently, on display was modern classical dance with wiggles galore.
While no stranger to Paris, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is the guest company for the second edition of a new summer festival called Les Étés de la Danse de Paris. Last year's featured company, the San Francisco Ballet, proved an immense success. Now Alvin Ailey is offering a quite different look at American dance today.
For some years now dance has probably been America's most appreciated cultural export to France. Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown and Lucinda Childs all have huge followings here. And with 20,000 people attending the San Francisco Ballet performances last year, the stage was set to welcome the Ailey troupe this month.

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