About Four Corners
In Ronald K. Brown’s Four Corners, 11 dancers depict spiritual seekers amid four angels standing on the corners of the earth, holding the four winds. In creating his fifth commission for the Ailey company since 1999, the celebrated choreographer turned to the song “Lamentations” by his friend, recording artist Carl Hancock Rux. Drawing from West African and modern dance influences, Brown uses grounded, earthy movements to portray figures who are burdened by grief but ultimately find peace, solace, and freedom with the aid of “the angels in their corners” mentioned in Rux’s text.
While Four Corners is not a literal interpretation of Rux’s lyrics, Brown drew inspiration from the text to manifest storytelling through choreography. Brown expressed his love for poems, stating: “There’s something about the rhythm, and something about the richness of the spoken word that goes right into my heart. When I’m dreaming about movement or seeing movement, poetry comes out.” Though the friendship between Brown and Rux began decades ago, Four Corners provided the first opportunity for choreographer and composer to create a dance work together.
Halfway through the work, there is a palpable shift in energy as the music changes to an undulating, pulsing lullaby by North African vocalist Yacoub, indicating that the winds of change are blowing. Brown also makes use of music by Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Costume designer Omotayo “Wunmi” Olaiya, a long-time collaborator, created flowing garb in rich purples, grays, and blacks. The New Yorker recently hailed Brown as “the choreographer best able to give the virtuosic dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater works as powerful as their technique. His compositions are hard to resist.”
The ballet is inspired by text from recording artist Carl Hancock Rux’s Lamentations:
Away they fall
All who stand
At the four corners of the earth
With blades and sheaths
Yours is simply this
Command and stand up
You are beautiful
Beautiful and lovely