You know something is up when, on the Friday night the last weekend before Christmas, “Revelations” is not the peak of an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performance at City Center. This was not the fault of “Revelations,” which still galvanized the sold-out crowd. But it couldn’t hold a candle to the opener: Ailey’s “Night Creature,” which was brilliantly led by Sarah Daley-Perdomo and danced in front of the Future of Jazz Orchestra, curated by Jazz at Lincoln Center. Throughout the first half of the evening, the pairing of the live band with some of Ailey’s best pieces to Duke Ellington made for a momentous occasion. It felt like a gala; the ever-chummy Artistic Director Robert Battle even appeared at a podium for pre-show introductions—naturally, he started his speech by doing jazz hands. Battle’s own “For Four” also got the live-music treatment, and it was about a thousand times better with its Wynton Marsalis score played onstage too.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Alvin Ailey's “Night Creature.” Photograph by Christopher Duggan