Roberts doesn’t appear to be in a sentimental temper on this opaque work that might have been an interlude on Turner Classic Movies’ “Noir Alley.” It’s overtly cinematic, with a clear message that love is messy, a level that Roberts underscores with a quote by James Baldwin in this system: “Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.”
“Sentimental Mood” felt at unusual odds with the opposite works on this system, which begins with a extra upbeat medley: A choice of 4 brief works by Battle, together with his most up-to-date, “For Four” (2021), set to music by Wynton Marsalis written in 4/4 time.
Here, Battle recreates the tightly wound sensation of confinement and launch because the dancers Ashley Kaylynn Green, Patrick Coker, Khalia Campbell and Miranda Quinn enter into a world of ceaseless movement — frantic and bounding — till a projection of the American flag seems behind the stage and slides down, bleeding onto the stage. The dancers increase crossed fists: It’s without delay galvanizing and harrowing.
Between the soapy duet “Unfold” (2007), carried out with model by Ashley Mayeux and James Gilmer, and the angular, fitful “Takademe” (1999), we see examples of Battle’s early work. “Takademe” — set to Shelia Chandra’s “Speaking in Tongues II,” a rating of syncopated syllables from Indian kathak — is in telling relationship to “For Four.”
Both are bodily responses to sound, stuffed with gesture and bravura. “Takademe,” just like the quartet, has a sense of confinement about it: Battle choreographed it in his front room in Queens, and as carried out by Kanji Segawa, it additionally illuminates the concept of freedom inside constraint. In “For Four,” Battle inches into territory that’s much less cute. He might have been joking when he stated his eleventh 12 months as creative director was going to be wild. But let’s hope it’s true — and that he’ll add extra courageous hazard to his choreography, too.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Through Sunday on the David H. Koch Theater, alvinailey.org.