Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Monday, February 06, 2012

The River: Duke Ellington and Alvin Ailey

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Duke Ellington composed The River in 1970 as part of a collaboration between himself and Alvin Ailey, who requested Ellington's assistance after he was commissioned by the American Ballet Theatre to create a ballet for that company. This suite, in seven movements, represents the natural course of a river. The movements are called:

1: Spring
2: Meander
3: Giggling Rapids
4: Lake
5: Vortex
6: Riba
7: Village Virgins

I've seen several ballerinas dance the Vortex section, from Leslie Browne in the Oscar-nominated film "The Turning Point," to an Alvin Ailey dancer, who captured all I believe Ailey wanted that section to be -- visceral, forceful, sassy, sexy, and exhilerating. Unfortunately, I can't find a video of any of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre performances, but I was able to find two dancers, one from Baltimore, Jennifer Gelfand, and one from the Czech Republic, Ida Fišerová, who seem to be giving this dance all they have. I have to tell you though, the Alvin Ailey dancer, whose name I don't remember from the mid-90s, had more attitude and HIPS than these ladies. I only hope that I can eventually find it. It's a REVELATION.

Jennifer Gelfand, performing "Vortex" from The River Suite:
Ida Fišerová, performing "Vortex" from The River Suite:
And here's the song "Vortex" by Duke Ellington:


Food Freak Frank said...

That's some awesome music by Duke. Thanks for posting it. I actually had never heard this one before. It's sounds pretty cinematic. I didn't know Ellington composed that style of music. Awesome.

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Isn't it exciting?! I couldn't believe it when I heard it either. I'ts sooo dramatic. Duke was a genius! If I could only find the Youtube clip or other video of sister from Alvin Ailey who danced to this!
Thanks for commenting.

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

I'm just NOW getting what "Riba" means.....Duke was somethin' else.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for exposing my grand-dauhter to culture.


Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Hey MaDear,
She LOVES it. It's a blessing.

Love you!

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