Alvin Ailey and Bad Shoes

by Pamela Goode

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As we hobbled out of the Blumenthal in ill-advised but oh-so-lovely shoes, my 20-year-old daughter said, “I will never again in my life see such incredible bodies.” We were leaving another Alvin Ailey performance, and I couldn’t help feeling oddly surprised that we weren’t flying. We had, after all, just seen irrefutable proof that humans do, indeed, take to the air in dizzying, boundless, lighter-than-air flight.

I was compelled to remove, or rather fling, the ill-advised pretties from my toes as we inched down from the sixth level of the parking garage, the balls of my feet straining in agony on the clutch. Linda Celeste Sims, pictured above, danced ravenously for two hours, her own balls able to eject from the wood floor with muscles as powerful as a spring-loaded board. I walked two blocks in heels. My wimp quotient is boggling.

The highlight of the evening was Twyla Tharp’s frenetic choreography set to David Byrne’s score in The Golden Section. If you thought Talking Heads was a wet finger in the socket, wait til you see thirteen dancers moving together with exquisite precision, but . . . performing thirteen separate simultaneous dances. Premiered in 1983, the thrill and adrenaline rush of this piece are as addictive as a Dublin Mudslide.

Oh yeah, and about those incredible bodies . . . . I was six when I first slid my pinkies into the much-more-comfortable soft leather ballet flats, and learned to lie on my tummy, arch my back, and touch my head to my toes. I was a young teenager when Edward Villella made it clear that dancers were the most highly trained athletes, leaps and releves above the ball-tossing hordes. I was 17 when I saw Judith Jamison dance Cry, an exhausting and emotional fifteen minute solo that burned her image into the eyes of dancers worldwide. I was twenty-something when Robert Blake (when he was still cute and crime-free), leaned over toward Johnny Carson and said, “Marry a dancer. Sex doesn’t get better than that.” I was 28 when I finished my last dance class and switched to yoga. That was the last time I flew.