After performing everywhere from Madagascar to the White House, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has evolved into a unique phenomenon since its humble beginnings in 1958. The internationally acclaimed company has achieved legendary status through its provocative surveys of African-American culture and progressively modern yet lyrical choreography. This particular tour—which is making a six-day stop at UC Berkeley’s Cal Performances—marks the farewell of Ailey’s successor and artistic director, Judith Jamison, after leading the troupe to unparalleled praise for more than 20 years.
The problem with seeing an amazing show is having to turn around and describe said amazing show. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is apparently indescribable, as I've been sitting here for an hour trying to think of ways to adequately convey the sharp mastery of Revelations or the Dr. Seuss-like appeal of a dude in blue spandex with a tall blue feather on his head. Company auditions must screen for men with coiled springs instead of muscles and women who swing through combinations with a dynamic grace, because that's precisely what you get. Toss them onstage with choreography by artistic director Judith Jamison and Ailey himself, and you get dance that moves toward the sublime.