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Suri Cruise Kicks Her
Way Through Alvin Ailey Performance

Suri Cruise Kicks Her
Way Through Alvin Ailey Performance

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The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles was the place to be last week for anyone unfamiliar with the choreography of Alvin Ailey.

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles was the place to be last week for anyone unfamiliar with the choreography of Alvin Ailey. Take it from Suri Cruise, who high-kicked her white patent leather Mary Janes throughout most of Friday night's show -- Alvin Ailey must be experienced. She attended with mom Katie Holmes, with an assistant and bodyguard in tow.

To mark its 50th anniversary as a showcase for African-American modern dance, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed a selection of the dancer-choreographer's best-known ballets. The programs varied slightly over the five-day run -- Friday featured the Duke Ellington-scored piece Night Creature; Saturday evening saw a classic tribute to Otis Redding -- but every show ended with Ailey's seminal Revelations.

Since its premiere in 1960, Revelations has been seen by more people worldwide than any other dance work, and rightly so. Like all of Ailey's works, it is pure affirmation of the human spirit expressed through the strength and agility of the human form. But the three-movement suite is arguably the best illustration of Ailey's desire to honor the heritage of African-Americans. Scored to gospel, spirituals, and holy blues, with dancers costumed in simple flesh-colored monotones, Revelations encapsulates a cultural identity Ailey once described as "sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful."

While the "best of" approach caught novices up to speed, Ailey aficionados could hardly be disappointed watching the choreographer's signature leg extensions and slow backward drops in performances raucous enough to inspire Sunday Baptist clapping and so tender that at least one journalist was brought to tears.

Last week's Los Angeles stop on the North American 50th Anniversary Tour is part of 18 months of tribute that wraps up on May 18. For dates and cities still to come, see AlvinAiley.org .

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