Ronald K. Brown’s joyous mix of modern and African dance—seen previously in Grace, Open Door, and other works—fits the Ailey dancers perfectly, and his themes of spiritual awakening and redemption never fail to inspire.
Music for the piece includes: Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major by Johann Sebastian Bach performed by Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, and Yo-Yo Ma; Blues for Timme (Live) from the Mary Lou Williams Trio's album "Live at Nice 'Grande Parade Jazz'"; and The Love from Asase Yaa Entertainment Group's album "Drum Love."
The New York Times review, 12/5/18: "Review: Evoking Ailey, a Beautiful Conversation Between Choreographers"
"There aren’t many people left on earth who can speak to the spirit of Alvin Ailey — not in terms of his dances or the institution he created, but the man. Through his dances, Ronald K. Brown speaks to the spirt of Ailey, and for nearly 20 years now he has enriched Ailey’s company with unaffected, soulful choreography that gives its dancers dimension and depth. The Call is Mr. Brown at his essence. His dances, earthy and subtly rapturous, tell stories of spirituality by weaving a tapestry of modern dance and West African forms. Mixed in with Mr. Brown’s soft swaying twists of the arms and hips are details and shapes taken from the Ailey canon. In this way, The Call — Mr. Brown’s seventh piece for the Ailey company — is something of a conversation between the choreographers, a beauty of a dance that ripples along while highlighting Ailey’s formality, his ebullience and how he came to find his choreographic voice."
The New York Timesfeature story, 11/27/18: "Ronald K. Brown Choreographs a Love Letter to Alvin Ailey"
“The Call is both intimate and spare; for just five dancers, it’s set to a surprisingly harmonious mix of Bach, jazz, and Malian music. Despite the contrast in musical idioms, each section flows naturally into the next. It opens with a canon in which one dancer enters after another, each executing the same stately sequence. Both the music and the movement have a formal, almost classical quality. This is a reference to Ailey, Mr. Brown said: 'His sensibility could be very formal. And there was something about that clarity of vision and simplicity that I wanted to evoke here.' The call and response among the dancers eventually leads to an extended duet for a man and a woman, unusual for Mr. Brown. The two dance together again in the second section, [a reference to] Mr. Ailey dancing with Carmen de Lavallade, one of his earliest collaborators. Unlike most of [Brown's] works for Ailey, it has no big finale. And yet, quietly, Mr. Brown accomplishes a kind of magical sleight of hand. Near the end of The Call, the dancers begin to move in sync, slowly gliding backward into a triangular formation. Then, on the final notes, they all raise their arms, at once. And there it is, the opening image from Revelations.”
The creation of The Call was supported by Simin N. Allison, Judith McDonough Kaminski & Joseph Kaminski, McGue Millhiser Trust, Denise Littlefield Sobel, and The Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn & Nicolas Rohatyn New Works Endowment Fund.
Jacqueline Green and Solomon Dumas in The Call, photo by Paul Kolnik