Critic’s Notebook

In a pandemic 12 months, Ailey celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of its cornerstone, “Revelations,” and premieres two high-quality new works, one by Jamar Roberts.

“Revelations Reimagined” with, from left, Yazzmeen Laidler, Constance Stamatiou, Yannick Lebrun, Jessica Amber Pinkett and James Gilmer at Wave Hill.“Revelations Reimagined” with, from left, Yazzmeen Laidler, Constance Stamatiou, Yannick Lebrun, Jessica Amber Pinkett and James Gilmer at Wave Hill.Credit…Travis Magee

Brian Seibert

  • Dec. 18, 2020Updated 2:28 p.m. ET

The centrality of “Revelations” within the repertory of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is like nothing else in dance. Ballet corporations might carry out “The Nutcracker” each winter; the Ailey troupe performs “Revelations” on almost each program, the entire 12 months by way of. It’s the blueprint for many different works the corporate dances and the usual towards which they’re all judged. It’s the perennial billboard for the corporate’s model and its bible, too.

This 12 months is the sixtieth anniversary of “Revelations.” But it’s additionally 2020. For the primary time, the corporate’s winter season, often a month of reveals at New York City Center, is on-line and free. And alongside the difficulties of that adaptation lies the necessity to reassert the relevance of “Revelations” — and the corporate immediately — on the finish of a 12 months of pandemic, protests and all kinds of upheaval.

The season is assembly these challenges. Not flawlessly, however greater than sufficiently. Since Dec. 2, the corporate has been releasing themed applications mixing archival and newly filmed efficiency excerpts with taped conversations in regards to the dances and the second. And crucially, this week these retrospective efforts have been joined by two distinguished premieres: “A Jam Session for Troubling Times” (accessible by way of Dec. 21) and “Testament” (accessible by way of Dec. 24.)

“Jam Session,” by the corporate’s on-a-roll resident choreographer, Jamar Roberts, isn’t within the custom of “Revelations.” He’s made his share of significant and traditionally weighted works, however right here he takes the good-times mode of “Night Creature,” a 1974 Ailey traditional set to a Duke Ellington rating.

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