Home Art & Culture The Ailey Company Meets the Challenge of This Lost Season

The Ailey Company Meets the Challenge of This Lost Season

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One section of “Revelations Reimagined” does manage to be of the moment: a socially distanced version of the duet “Fix Me, Jesus.” Normally, it’s a work of heroic partnering, shared balances and lifts, but here Jermaine Terry and Sarah Daley-Perdomo don’t touch. Instead — as is explained later in the program — Ms. Daley-Perdomo’s husband stands in as a body double, only visible as a corporeal perch and lifting limbs. This safety accommodation subtly alters the meaning, making the man less of a preacher and more of an angel.

That’s intriguing, though I still prefer the standard version, danced impeccably on a different program last week by Glenn Allen Sims and Linda Celeste Sims. This married couple just retired after more than 20 years with the company, and the program was their sadly virtual farewell. Apart from “Fix Me,” the repertory didn’t show them at their best, but it did demonstrate their beautiful attunement to each other, their ability to “become one breath,” as Mr. Sims put it. They will be greatly missed.

Others of the earlier programs, with judiciously chosen excerpts, have usefully addressed spirituality, the collaborations of Ailey and Ellington, dance and social justice. In them, the artistic director, Robert Battle, is a thoughtful, good-natured host as well as a smooth pitchman, inviting guests (Wynton Marsalis, Toshi Reagon, Bryan Stevenson, among others) with something to say, even if — like him — they were saying things they’ve said many times before.

Which brings us to the other premiere. If “Jam Session” is an escape from “Revelations,” “Testament” is an explicit tribute. Choreographed by Matthew Rushing, Clifton Brown and Yusha-Marie Sorzano, it portrays, as described in Ms. Sorzano’s spoken word, an arc from “lament to hope, pain to power” — the shape of “Revelations.” Making better use of the Wave Hill location, it’s more cinematically expressive than “Revelations Reimagined,” though its director is the same.

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