Party for Alvin Ailey, Story of a Rabbit, and Hiroaki Umeda

Dancing in the Dirty South

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“Me? I'm scared of everything. I'm scared of what I saw, I'm scared of what I did, of who I am, and most of all I'm scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I'm with you.” — Frances “Baby” Houseman, Dirty Dancing

5bf9/1243271390-ailey_dancers_courtney_corbin_and_willy_laury__medium_.jpgThis party was so good everyone was scared to leave the room. But like any good romance, it began with a pregnant awkwardness. No babysitter, so this reporter had to go stag. Coming through the debauched revelry of Lower East Bay on a Memorial Day Weekend, into a roaring party with dixieland jazz and Tristan’s shimmery wall projections, the gorgeous lithe Ailey dancers holding court, you couldn’t help but feel a little like Baby carrying the watermelon. However, this was not a crowd for putting people in a corner. Steve Hutchinson and Brenda Patten were praising the Ailey’s Aisha Mitchell, who returned the love.

039c/1243271430-brenda_patten__aisha_mitchell__steve_hutchinson__medium_.jpg“You look like one of the dancers!” Aisha told Brenda. Novelist John Thompson, fresh with the news that he’d won an Ippy Award for his novel Armageddon Conspiracy, was asking Julie Medich for a media lawyer referral. Spoleto Producer Nunally Kersh was relating some of the comments she’d been getting on the va-va-voom Stefania Dovhan, who in the title role of Louise is sick of being put in the corner herself and opens Act Two in a nightie, getting hot and heavy with an artist-type Daddy don’t approve of. One would be hard-pressed to find two more disparate dance companies, at least in terms of infrastructure, than the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and Hiroaki Umeda. The Ailey is a juggernaut operation with its own Manhattan building. Umeda is a one-man shop. He’d met a new friend in Saki Hamano, a student at CofC who was painting sets for the Festival. “So you come here completely alone?” Umeda was asked. “No producer, no crew, no entourage?”

45cf/1243272099-caroline_nuttall__hugh_hughes_of__story_of_a_rabbit___scott_sowell_of_spoleto_usa__medium_.jpg“Just me.” “No bodyguard?” He turned to Hamano. Looks like there might be a post-festival job opportunity for her. Willy Laury was dancing with his fellow Ailey company member Courtney Corbin, sporting this crazy amulet thing he claimed to have purchased at a store on King Street. He said the crystals would fix my carpal tunnel, but I think it’s more powerful than that. I think it’s actually an arc reactor embedded in his chest in order to keep shrapnel out of his heart. Caroline Nuttall of Charlie online magazine was plugging her Addicted to Bad Ideas party next weekend. I won’t reveal her planned hairstyle, but let’s just say it’s in line with the theme. That party is my next assignment, so I’ll see you there. I’ll be the one wearing Bad Idea Jeans.

Grub: Jalapeno hushpuppies with pimento cheese dipping sauce, fried heirloom tomatoes with sweet pepper chutney, jerk infused beef carpaccio croustades with Vidalia aioli, and Southern sushi — shrimp and grit cakes with tasso and ham wrapped with collard. Also a Henry VIII-worthy mound of meats and cheeses, plus desserts and champagne and more.

See the pictures with descriptions on our Flickr. 

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