Trailing Ailey

By MARCIA B. SIEGEL  |  February 12, 2008

This year the Aileys revived an iconic work by the guru of European counterculture and pioneer of Euro-trash, Maurice Béjart, who died this past November at age 80. Firebird (1970) used one of the suites from Stravinsky’s famous ballet. Dispensing with the original plot, which was first choreographed in 1910 by Michel Fokine, Béjart made a formal composition for a group of eight partisans in guerrilla uniforms who get their inspiration from a mythic figure in a red unitard (Clifton Brown).

This spirit — Béjart identified him as a poet, revolutionary, symbol of life and joy — dances balletic leaps and spins as the group hover decoratively around him, inhaling the essence of rebellion. Eventually he dies, but his expiring figure merges with a new Firebird (Jamar Roberts) to carry on the image of resistance. No one actually fights in this formalist appeal to the fervent revolutionaries of its day. Maybe modern viewers will read it as a plug for gay marriage.

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