Choreographer Kyle Abraham compares his choreography to gumbo, a Southern soup. Like a stew that includes many separate ingredients, his dances are a mixture of modern, ballet, social dance, and hip-hop. “You can taste it all,” he says, “but it’s all in one sauce.”
Robert Battle, the Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, asked Mr. Abraham to create a new work for the company. Mr. Abraham cooked up a dance entitled Another Night, adding jazz music to the mixture.
Another Night is performed by 10 dancers to music by Art Blakey, a jazz drummer from Abraham’s hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Abraham liked Blakey’s composition “A Night in Tunisia” because it sounds improvised—as if the musicians add their own creative touches to the music.
Much of Abraham’s work has involved improvisation as well, but with dancers. When choreographing Another Night, he asked the Ailey performers to collaborate in creating some movements and to change those that didn’t feel right. He wanted them to be part of the process so they could feel connected to the dance and to each other, and show that connection on stage.
Watch and listen for:
- how some dancers move to a certain instrument like the piano
- how entrances and exits are connected to specific sounds or silence
- how the dancers change movement styles—moving in long, sweeping motions, then stopping to let the rhythms of the music bounce through their shoulders, neck, and body in a very individual way
Abraham also wanted Another Night to portray human interactions in an urban environment. Do you think he succeeds? Why or why not?