Who woulda thought? A lovely Bejart ballet

The European philosopher-choreographer-king Maurice Bejart died on Thanksgiving (in case you live in a cave), and a week later the Alvin Ailey troupe premiered his “Firebird” at their gala. Which meant even at Newsday, where reviews have come to be frowned upon, a piece was in order.
What a hapless task! What was I going to do if I didn’t like the dance–which seemed more than likely, given how I’d felt about pretty much every other Bejart ballet I’d seen? I believe in honoring the dead, and whatever you might think of Bejart’s choreography he’s always seemed as sweet and kind a man as an artist could be.
Well, I needn’t have worried. “Firebird” is a lovely thing–dated in the nicest way, with such innocent and liberating homoeroticism. The Ailey dancers have done better by the choreographer than his own dancers ever did. I make a case for why.
The magnificent Clifton Brown as the Firebird. Photo by Paul Kolnik. (The other standout in the cast–and all night: Linda Celeste Sims, far right.)

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