By:  Hal de Becker



Many years ago when I was a young dance student in Hollywood I’d attend performances by the Lester Horton dance company that included artists like Carmen de Lavallade and James Truitte both of whom later became renowned figures in the dance world. 


Horton, a Modern Dance legend, had converted a movie theater into a performance venue for his company, and a school in which to teach his innovative dance technique.      


I took a beginning class there from a very young, very serious instructor who accompanied his lessons by striking the beat on a hand held drum.    


Who could have known then that he was destined to become a star dancer, brilliant choreographer and in 1958 founder of a world famous dance company:  His name?  Alvin Ailey.      


On April 19th and 20th Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater presents two programs, each of them different, at The Smith Center at 7:30 p.m.  Included will be two of Mr. Ailey’s treasured masterworks, ‘Revelations’ choreographed to African-American spirituals, and ‘Cry’, a female solo set to music and vocals that addresses the oppression of women.


Also presented will be three world premieres: ‘Awakening’ choreographed by the company’s artistic director, Robert Battle; ‘Exodus’ by Rennie Harris; and ‘Open Door’, a timely piece on Cuban themes by Ronald K. Brown.


Other outstanding works include a lyrical pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘After the Rain’; Mr. Battle’s ‘No Longer Silent’ to a score by Erwin Schulhoff, a Nazi concentration camp victim; and Mr. Brown’s ‘Hip Hop’.


On Wednesday the 20th there will be a special performance for students of ‘Revelations’ and ‘Toccata’ at 10:30 a.m.  ‘Toccata’ is an eclectic work incorporating classical, jazz and other styles in a New York street scene setting.  More information is available at 702-749-2000. 


The Ailey troupe has appeared in Las Vegas before and always to sold-out houses.  So a word to the wise: reserve tickets early.