Dance is the soul of this country. This is so American, it’s ridiculous!” ~Judith Jameson
Just finished watching the live-streaming video of the White House Dance Series: Tribute to Judith Jameson. The Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater had a front row seat for the festivities hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. Damien Woetzel, former principal with the New York City Ballet, Artistic Director of the Vail International Dance Festival and appointed member of the Presidential Committee on the Arts and Humanities, also hosted a children’s dance workshop with some of the artists from the show before announcing the First Lady. Woetzel said that the event was a “validation of the arts”.
Mrs. Obama (who looked fabulous, as usual) sat across the aisle from Jameson in the front row and was joined by daughters Malia and Sasha and her mother after saying a few words about dance and Jameson’s contribution to the art. For the first event in the new dance series, the WH brought a variety of artists. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed the solo Cry (made famous by Jameson), and excerpts from the quintessential Ailey piece Revelations. They were joined by artists from Broadway’s Billy Elliot (Electricity), NYCB (Balanchine’s Tarantella), Paul Taylor Dance Company (Cloven Kingdom), MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew winners Super CR3W, and Washington Ballet (excerpts from Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs).
Revelations, which never fails to entertain, was almost too much (fans, umbrellas, et al.) for the tiny stage in the East Room, but ended the show with a passionate reverance to Jameson. RB was happy they included Sinner Man, the high-energy snippet for three men with awesome athletics and extensions (fave!). Also of mention, NYCB’s Ashley Bouder’s fast footwork and triple pirouettes in Tarantella.
Seeing dance honored by this administration is wonderful. RB will tune in next time to — as the First Lady so aptly put — “witness the glory of movement”.