OBSCURE COVER SERIES #11: Nina Simone & David Bowie “Wild is the Wind”














Alvin Ailey’s inspirational input to my “Obscure Cover Series”

It has been on my wishlist of things I want to make happen – seeing the great Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and my wish came true this past weekend. The AAADT performed at the Sony Centre for Performing Arts to an excited, packed-out house. The program featured work from the 1960s to current pieces that helped to showcase the history of this important dance company.

Alvin Ailey, as a choreographer and an artist, really is the god-father of cultural hybridity in American dance.

The auditory landscape of the music ranges from Classical to Afrobeat; the physical language of the choreography shifts from ballet to powerful moves that escaped cultural death in the Middle Passage, survived slavery then exploded freely in the 20th century. Those same moves  still strongly inform contemporary urban dance with a West African articulation.

The piece that really lifted me was IN / SIDE. It featured only one dancer performing to Nina Simone’s cover of Johnny Mathis’ “Wild is the Wind”. If you know this song then you know the intensity that infuses it and the dancer brought his own bold strength to the performance. Since I cannot fully share the experience of the performance I figure I can at least share the music.

David Bowie also did a cover of Wild is the Wind after meeting Nina Simone and being moved by her style of singing. Today’s post is a double feature because I really cannot decide which version I love more!