Toward the Sun

The first beautiful and warm weekend of the season made its presence known. I met it with arms wide opened. Saturday, on the way to hang out with friends in the park, I made a detour to District Flea where I scored an awesome pair of hammered gold earrings. Should I make it up to NYC, I’ll make certain to visit the woman from whose shop I purchased the earrings.

hammered gold earrings

She had some really great pieces, but I had to be conservative with spending money and thus only purchased the earrings. I slipped them in my bag and went on my way to dance it up in the park.

We congregated in the city to enjoy the sun and dance and have been doing this since last summer. This past Saturday was no exception. While waiting for folks, I sat on the fountain’s edge and worked on my tan. I also continued my read of Julian Barnes’s book of essays, Something to Declare (it feeds a bit of my own Francophilia), as I waited. Once the dancing got underway, I stayed for several hours, laughing and chatting between dances that I sat out. My hair collected the falling seeds or whatever it was from the nearby trees, making it more concrete that I had taken advantage of the gorgeous weather.

The following day I spent two hours at the gym for the classes I like the most–barre and Zumba. Afterward, I tried a run on the National Mall. I’ve done it previous weekends, but I’m not certain how I could have forgotten about the Cherry Blossom Festival. The gravelly stretch of the Mall was quite fine, but then I had the bright idea to run near the Jefferson Memorial. That was a debacle as no running actually occurred. The throng of people descending on the memorial made it so that I slowed down to a walk, a walk so frustrating that I turned back around and headed back to my gym. There was simply no room to pass, and I had the thought that I’d attempt a run next weekend.

The weekend continued with me meeting up with my good girlfriends for dinner. We sat near the open door of the restaurant, which can be fun when you’re a people watcher like I am. Between participating in conversation with the girls, my attention was called to passersby on the sidewalk only three yards away. The weekend of activity came to a close with a cool breeze, a glass of wine, and more laughter.

Giving Me That Natural High

I’m on a high. A full twenty-four hours after seeing the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform at the Kennedy Center, I can’t shake the emotions that viewing those bodies in motion have filled me with. I remember commenting to a friend a year ago that I’d always wanted to get up to New York to see them, and when she sent me a text back in November asking if I wanted to see them at the Kennedy Center, I jumped at the chance. I’d only ever watched YouTube clips of a couple performances; this would be my first time experiencing them live.

Last night’s show was lovely. We sat in the orchestra section, second row, and my goodness! That’s the place to be. A few years ago, I saw the Ballet Nacional de Cuba perform Don Quixote at the Kennedy Center, and a group of us were up in the second tier. It’s different up there. From my vantage point in the orchestra last night, I witnessed the expressions on the dancers’ faces change and emote according to choreographic needs. Perspiration glistened on their tauts bodies, giving them a magnificent glow. The power they hold in their bodies, the strength of their legs, the lithe and graceful extensions from the shoulders to the fingertips–breathtaking.

They put on three performances–Chroma, D-Man in the Waters (Part I), and the world renowned, Revelations–each one distinct. Chroma is so stark and beautiful and the use of space magnificent. The music for the dance is quite the contrast, however: ominous, fierce, piercing. D-Man in the Waters (Part I) is playful and joyful in the midst of grief, which gives it a final uplifting sentiment. This piece was a wonderful transition to the last performance of the evening. Revelations expounds on those feelings of grief and steadfastness in the face of adversity. With the use of blues and gospel music, it demonstrates how so many turn to some type of spiritual aspect to lift them out of the deepest of sorrows.

Wayne McGregor’s CHROMA from Alvin Ailey on Vimeo.

Groundbreaking British choreographer Wayne McGregor's contemporary ballet is full of sensory suprises: sumptuous movement, a driving score by Joby Talbot with orchestrations of songs by The White Stripes, and a luminous set by minimalist architect John Pawson.

Bill T. Jones’ D-MAN IN THE WATERS (PART I) from Alvin Ailey on Vimeo.

In this exhilarating work by Kennedy Center Honoree, McArthur Grant awardee and Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones (Fela!, Spring Awakening), rigorous formalism and musicality embody resilience and triumph over loss. The piece captures the infectious energy, innocence and will to survive of a beleaguered generation, and though it deals with sorrow, it maintains a defiantly celebratory tone.

Alvin Ailey’s REVELATIONS from Alvin Ailey on Vimeo.

Alvin Ailey said that one of America’s richest treasures was the cultural heritage of the African-American – ”sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful.” This enduring classic is a tribute to that heritage and to Ailey’s genius. Using African-American traditional spirituals, this suite fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul.

I guarantee that this will not be the last time that I see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform live. My soul needs it.

Next on the list: Seeing Misty Copeland perform with the American Ballet Theatre.