Photo: Gert Krautbauer
Photo: Gert Krautbauer

Modern Grace: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is back in Washington this week with a performance that takes the audience on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Hearts soar as high as the opera house ceiling as the dancers take to the stage in their pared-down costumes against spare sets and simple lighting. With a remarkable range, these graceful storytellers make the audience laugh, gasp, worry and even sing!

The modern dance troupe has been wowing audiences since 1958, incorporating street-style moves into a classical ballet repertoire. Their latest program includes jazz, gospel and spirituals, and features large ensemble pieces as well as duos and trios that shine. Oh, and there’s even twerking.

The experience of watching these talented young people is nothing less than joyful. It’s also action-packed with everything from a chase scene in bowler hats to a hot summer afternoon in the South to walking on water. There’s also a moving piece in which two dancers become six with their shadows stealing the spotlight. Each night the program will be a little different, so if you can afford it, go twice.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is performing at the Kennedy Center through February 12. Tickets start at $39.

Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC; 202-467-4600; www.kennedy-center.org

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Vanessa Mallory Kotz

Vanessa Mallory Kotz has been a writer and editor for more than 15 years. She covers visual arts, fashion, food and anything that advocates for better treatment of humans and animals. Her work has appeared in Popular Photography, American Photo, The Writer's Guide, Hirshhorn Magazine, First Person Plural, Goucher Quarterly, AmericanStyle, Niche, Reflections: Ultra Short Personal Narratives and other art catalogs for museums across the country.