Dance of the Spirit

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater brings world-renowned Revelations

A scene from Alvin Ailey's Revelations

A scene from Alvin Ailey's Revelations

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater brings world-renowned Revelations

Glenn Allen Sims is always thinking about his next step — and not just when he’s on the stage as part of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater company. The dancer, who has been with the world-renowned company since 1996 and dancing since he was nine, is starting to ponder what his future holds after he retires from dance — not that he’s planning on doing so any time soon.

“You can not dance forever and I know that I’m a performer at heart, so I had to sit back and really assess what would be the next thing that I would do,” he says. “Granted, the Ailey organization is such that you can move into other avenues within the organization, whether it be in the offices or in the artistic side.”

The answer? Sims is turning to acting as a way to continue his course as a performer — although being in front of a camera is different than being in front of a crowd.

“You’re using more of your emotional context with your face,” he says of acting. “With dance, you use your entire body, you’re using your face, but it’s from a distance. With the camera, it’s more subtle.”

As for moving into choreography, as many dancers do, Sims says he’s not really sure that’s what he wants to do, although he has a few pieces he created during his first year at Julliard that he is considering revisiting.

“The main thing that’s holding me back from choreography is they’re your ideas and it’s more or less your baby that you’re bringing into the world,” he says. “Right now, I’m not ready to be critiqued and criticized on ideas that mean a lot to me, ideas that are coming from your heart. When you’re taking somebody else’s work and you’re manifesting and moulding and shaping it to bring life to it, breathing life into somebody else’s work, it’s a different story.”

Sims has spent nearly 15 years breathing life into the work of others — including the work of the late Alvin Ailey, the famed American choreographer and dancer who is credited for giving African-Americans a voice in contemporary dance. His most famed work, Revelations, turns 50 this year, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has performed it countless times all over the world. (It’s the common piece in the two different programs the company will be dancing when they are in Victoria this coming Tuesday and Wednesday.) Sims himself says he’s probably danced the piece over 1,000 times.

“Honestly, it can be a bit tiresome because you’re doing it a lot, but I think the revelation of Revelations is, by the time you finish it, you totally do feel different,” says Sims. “You can go in and begrudgingly not want to do it, and by the time you’re done and you’re watching the audience in the last section … you really do feel uplifted and renewed.”

For Sims, that feeling comes from the inherent spirituality found in the timeless work.

“We all have that missing link, and that’s what it usually is: spirituality,” he says. “No matter who you serve or what your higher being might be, human beings desire that.” M

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater7:30pm Tuesday-Wednesday,March 22-23Royal Theatre, 805 BroughtonTickets $60-$125250-386-6121dancevictoria.com

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