Slowly, methodically, the performers walk in lines along the perimeter of the stage as others take turns in the center. This potent dance undulates; it has vibrations.
Throughout, images documenting protests over time, curated by Deborah Willis, are shown at the back of the stage. (The scenography is by Tsubasa Kamei.) They feel unnecessary; it’s like having a voice-over when you already have a voice-over. The words could be edited down, too, distilled or stripped away completely to let the music and dance speak for themselves. They are enough. In “The Equality of Night and Day,” Moran’s music and Brown’s choreography provide the power — and perhaps the tools to start thinking about how to create a better society, if only society would watch and listen a little harder.
When Moran’s music expands into an uplifting cascade of notes, one tumbling into the next, the beat picks up and the dancers take to the air, but “Night and Day” ends on a pensive, quiet note as the performers remove their tops, drop them to the floor and congregate in a corner of the stage. One by one, they touch, hands on shoulders. It’s a snapshot of a dance company, yes, but also of any bonded community.
Brown, who knows how to heat up a theater, bookends “Night and Day” with two of his most enlivening works, in which the vivid drive of his choreography — a tapestry of modern and African dance and Afro-Cuban forms — has a way of spilling past the stage and into the crowd. The program begins with “Open Door” (2015), with live music by the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble, and ends with “Grace” (1999/2003).
Both were created for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; both are, in different ways, life affirming with, here, standout performances by Shaylin D. Watson and Isaiah K. Harvey in “Open Door” and Shayla Alayre Caldwell in “Grace.” In each, Brown, full of spirituality and generosity, elevates dance to a higher ground. But perhaps the best part of the night was when Brown, with a gorgeous grin, came out for a bow with Arcell Cabuag, the company’s associate artistic director. In 2021, Brown had a stroke, but here, as his dancers let loose, he swayed along with them, his torso contained but also, undeniably, feeling the beat.
Ronald K. Brown/Evidence
Through Jan. 22 at the Joyce Theater, Manhattan; joyce.org.