Choo San Goh's "Spectrum" is a model of what one might call "textbook choreography." This dance, performed here for the first time last night by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, follows a sure-fire recipe for popular success: Mix a heaping dose of well-known music -- a Bach medley, starting off with the grandiose Toccata and Fugue in D minor of "Fantasia" fame -- with a clear stream of melody-aligned, follow-the-leader style movement. Stir in an occasional quirky gesture: twisting hips, flickering hands, pendulum arms. Decorate with eight gifted dancers (one of them, Gregory Stewart, making his home-town debut in the lead role of White Light), each one outfitted in a unitard of dazzling hue. Top with backdrop of rainbow intersecting triangle intersecting thunderbolt. Easily digestible, but forgettable, entertainment.
The remainder of the Ailey Company's Thursday evening fare offered scant nourishment for those questing for genuine choreographic art. "Phases," one of Ailey's recent ballet-jazz fusions, grafts muddled, fragmented dancing onto lengthy musical numbers by Pharoah Sanders, Donald Byrd and Max Roach. Billy Wilson's long-winded "Concerto in F," which brings to mind such disparate images as Gene Kelly partnering Cyd Charisse, marathon dance sessions, the Rockettes and holy-roller hysteria, received a socko performance by Sharrell Mesh, Kevin Brown, Gary DeLoach, and a host of others.
The most substantial work presented came as a surprise addition to the program. "Treading," Elisa Monte's hypnotic, ground-embracing duet to a score by avant-garde composer Steve Reich, featured the superb Mari Kajiwara and Keith McDaniel in a delirious flow of sustained gymnastics. Bathed in pools of diffuse light, the two parted and merged like a pair of erotic amoeba.