Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer Constance Stamatiou shares what it has been like to work with Artistic Director Judith Jamison (This is her 22nd and final season.) and perform Ailey’s most famous piece, “Revelations,” on its 50th anniversary.
What was your journey to Alvin Ailey?
I attended SUNY Purchase College for one year, and a professor suggested that I come to the Ailey School’s Summer Intensive. I did and fell completely in love with the company and the entire Ailey organization. Students there can dance – they are passionate and dedicated. I knew from that point on that this is where I want to be. I received a scholarship and, after two years as a fellowship student, I was invited to join Ailey II for two years – and then the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
What do you hope people take away from your performances?
I want them to feel good and be impressed. I want them to want to dance. It’s the 50th anniversary of Ailey’s most famous piece, “Revelations.” At a very young age I saw a documentary of Ailey doing “Revelations,” and I thought I want to do that. Even as a student, watching “Revelations” made my spirit feel good and truly joyous. To be a part of performing this great work never gets old no matter how much you do it. Hearing the accompaniment of Negro Spirituals and gospel music, you can’t help but to rock, clap or stomp. “Revelations” always moves me, like it does the audience, from the opening of “…’Buked” to the joyous finale of “Rocka My Soul.”
This is Judith Jamison’s last year as artistic director. What are some of the things you’ve learned from her?
Judith Jamison has a way of bringing out emotions or a feel that is needed for a dance, even things you didn’t think you could do. Her knowledge and artistry is so profound that when she directs you a light bulb clicks on. It’s like – Yes! That’s it! Why didn’t I think to move like that? It’s very real and incredibly natural.
Of the pieces you’re performing in this program, do you have a favorite?
I have too many favorites. But my all-time favorite is “Cry,” the famous solo Mr. Ailey created on Judith Jamison. I’ve grown to love it, and I will be performing it in Los Angeles this season. I’ve always wanted to perform all the works that I’ve seen on the Ailey company, including “Revelations,” “Hymn,” “Vespers,” “Episodes” – the list goes on. Seeing those dances as a student and then to be on the stage doing them now is just unreal. I get so much adrenaline from that excitement I have to remind myself to breathe and bring it down a notch.
How would you describe the pieces AAADT is doing in Los Angeles?
You are getting a variety: up tempo, slow, modern, hip-hop – you are seeing it all. We are sharing must-see Ailey classics and new productions by Ms. Jamison, Artistic Director Designate Robert Battle and other dynamic choreographers. There will be pieces that will make you want to get out of your seat and dance while some will make your jaw drop and wonder. Did those bodies just do that – is that humanly possible? Others may make you cry. But, no matter which performance, you will be taken on a journey.
What has dance taught you that you apply to situations outside the rehearsal room?
It teaches me to be persistent, to be open-minded and to accept things that are different. It gives me the hunger to learn. Dance is everywhere. Anything can pertain to dance situations. Your surroundings and the people you encounter can all be used to inspire you, to supply choreography or to provide that image or thing that brings life to that person you are on the stage.
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is located at 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. For more information, visit musiccenter.org.
Alvin Ailey: April 8-17 @ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
Article posted on 4/6/2011
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