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Alvin Ailey Sets Special Opening and Four Dynamic Programs for Lincoln Center Season, 6/11-22

Related: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Lincoln Center
Alvin Ailey Sets Special Opening and Four Dynamic Programs for Lincoln Center Season, 6/11-22

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, beloved as one of the world's most popular dance companies, will return to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts with four different programs for a 15-performance engagement at the David H. Koch Theater June 11 - 22, 2014.

Artistic Director Robert Battle is presenting Ailey's acclaimed dancers in diverse repertory highlighted by the world premiere The Pleasure of the Lesson -- a first-time collaboration with Robert Moses - new productions of Hans van Manen's Polish Pieces and David Parsons' signature work Caught, along with the company premiere of Asadata Dafora's groundbreaking 1932 solo Awassa Astrige/Ostrich. The two-week spring season kicks off in an exceptional way with a free workshop - Revelations Celebration on the Plaza - followed by The Ailey Spirit Gala, a one-night-only benefit performance and party.

In 2013, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's seven-performance engagement at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts was the Company's first appearance there in 13 years. "To culminate the 25th season since the passing of our legendary founder, it gives me great pride to lead the Company back to Lincoln Center for an extended two-week engagement with four programs that showcase the range and artistry of Ailey's unparalleled dancers," said Artistic Director Robert Battle. "Alvin Ailey was a pioneer in creating an American modern dance repertory company and I'm thrilled to extend his vision through an expansive variety of new and acclaimed works by a wide array of choreographers. It is also incredible to kick-off the engagement with a joyous and very meaningful celebration."

Beginning on Wednesday, June 11th at 5:30pm on the Josie Robertson Plaza, Revelations Celebration on the Plaza will give participants of all ages a rare opportunity to experience a free grand dance workshop celebrating Alvin Ailey's signature American masterpiece, and marking the 25th season since the legendary founder's passing. The special activity will be led by Ailey master teacher and former Company member Nasha Thomas-Schmitt who will teach movements from three distinctive sections of Revelations: "I've Been 'Buked," "Wade in the Water," and "Rocka My Soul." Live music with drummer and singers will be featured at the event.

Renowned actress, singer, and multi-faceted entertainer Vanessa Williams is the Honorary Chair for the inaugural Ailey Spirit Gala benefit sponsored by FedEx Corporation. The one-night-only performance at 7pm includes the world-renowned Ailey dancers in excerpts of Wayne McGregor's Chroma, Aszure Barton's LIFT, and a new production of David Parsons' signature solo, Caught. The rising stars of Ailey II will perform an excerpt of Jennifer Archibald's Wings, gifted young dancers from The Ailey School (ages 6 to 23) will showcase their talents and the breadth of the program's training in Synthesis II, and talented students from AileyCamp will perform a work inspired by Ronald K. Brown's Grace. An expanded cast of 50 of the present and future stars of Ailey will come together for a memorable finale of Alvin Ailey's timeless, Revelations. Following the performance, a dance party on the promenade will feature the musical stylings of deejay to the stars, DJ M.O.S. For tickets call 212-405-9031.

The Pleasure of the Lesson, Robert Moses' world premiere on Thursday, June 12th at 7:30pm, is being created with a cast of 10 dancers especially for the Company's Koch Theater engagement and marks his first collaboration with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Known for sexy, sophisticated choreography that makes audiences want to dance too, he has choreographed for film, theater and opera, exploring topics ranging from oral African-American traditions, urban culture and the nuanced complexities of parentage and identity.

This program (also scheduled for 6/14 eve, 6/18 eve, & 6/22 matinee) includes an encore performance of Chroma, a 2013 company premiere filled with layered, beautiful dancing and astonishing lifts by multi award-winning British choreographer Wayne McGregor. Created in 2006 for The Royal Ballet, the piece has a driving score by Joby Talbot and orchestrations of music by Jack White III of The White Stripes and a luminous set by minimalist architect John Pawson. The performance will end with Alvin Ailey's always inspiring must-see American classic Revelations.

The Friday, June 13th 8pm performance marks the company premiere of Awassa Astrige/Ostrich by Sierra Leone-born choreographer Asadata Dafora, who blended his vision of a traditional African dance with Western staging in this groundbreaking 1932 solo set to Carl Riley's score of African drumming and flute. With arms flapping like wings, torso rippling and head held high, a warrior is transformed into the proud, powerful ostrich ­- the king of birds. Dafora is recognized as one of the first to present African dance on the concert stage, influencing many future artists like Pearl Primus and Katherine Dunham.

Along with Awassa Astrige/Ostrich, this program (repeated on 6/15 eve & 6/21 eve) will include Ronald K. Brown's landmark and spiritually-charged Grace, Ohad Naharin's unique and innovative Minus 16 and D-Man in the Waters (Part I), Bill T. Jones' "Bessie" Award-winning modern dance classic celebrating life and the resiliency of the human spirit that embodies loss, hope and triumph with non-stop movement set to Mendelssohn's Octet for Strings in E-flat Major, Op. 20 (1825).

The Ailey/Ellington program (6/14 matinee, 6/15 matinee, 6/20 eve) showcases Night Creature, Pas de Duke, and The River, three of the 14 ballets founder Alvin Ailey created that celebrate the musical genius of the eminent American composer Duke Ellington, along with Revelations. The River, originally choreographed in 1970 for American Ballet Theatre to Ellington's first symphonic score written specifically for dance, combines classical ballet, modern dance, and jazz in sections suggesting tumbling rapids and slow currents on a voyage to the great sea, mirroring the journey of life. Pas de Duke, commemorates America's two great art forms - modern dance and jazz music - in Alvin Ailey's translation of a classical pas de deux created for the renowned Judith Jamison and Mikhail Baryshnikov. It was originally presented in 1976 as part of the "Ailey Celebrates Ellington" festival at Lincoln Center's New York State Theater for the nation's bicentennial.

The engagement's second week of performances begins on Tuesday, June 17th at 7:30pm with new productions of Hans van Manen's Polish Pieces and David Parson's Caught. In Polish Pieces, Dutch choreographer van Manen displays his mastery for building dazzling creations from simple motifs and geometric patterns. Driven by the rhythms of Henryk Górecki's score, the 12 dancers in this colorful ensemble work create a brilliant kaleidoscope through endlessly shifting formations that culminate in two sensual pas de deux. The dancer in Parsons' signature work Caught defies gravity as he flies through the air in a bravura display of athletic stamina and a breathtaking fusion of art and technology using split-second timing. Flashing lights capture the dancer in more than 100 leaps, suspending him in flight as he magically moves across the stage.

Also repeated on 6/19 eve, 6/21 mat., and 6/22 eve, this program ends with Revelations and begins with LIFT, a 2013-14 season world premiere by in-demand choreographer Aszure Barton in collaboration with the cast of 19 dancers who inspired the process, movement and composition, as well as the original percussive score by Curtis Macdonald.

A free question-and-answer session with Ailey's much-admired dancers will follow the inspiring finale of Revelations on the Family Matinee performances scheduled for Saturday, June 14th and 21st at 2pm.

New dancers joining Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the Lincoln Center performances are Jacquelin Harris (Charlotte, NC) and Collin Heyward (Newport News, VA), both accomplished former members of Ailey II and honors graduates from the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program in Dance, as well as Danica Paulos (Huntington Beach, CA) who also trained at The Ailey School.

Tickets starting at $25 can be purchased at the David H. Koch Box Office, by phone at 212-496-0600, and online at www.alvinailey.org. For further information about Ailey's performances and discounts for groups and students, visit www.alvinailey.org. Detailed schedule below.

Programming - Subject to Change:

Wednesday, June 11, 7:00pm - The Ailey Spirit Gala - including Caught and Revelations

Thursday, June 12, 7:30pm - Chroma / The Pleasure of the Lesson / Revelations

Friday, June 13, 8:00pm - Grace / Awassa Astrige/Ostrich, D-Man in the Waters (Part I) / Minus 16

*Saturday, June 14, 2:00pm - "Ailey/Ellington" - Night Creature, Pas de Duke / The River / Revelations

*Family Matinee - followed by a Post-Performance Q&A session with the dancers

Saturday, June 14, 8:00pm - Chroma / The Pleasure of the Lesson / Revelations

Sunday, June 15, 3:00pm - "Ailey/Ellington" - Night Creature, Pas de Duke / The River / Revelations

Sunday, June 15, 7:30pm - Grace / Awassa Astrige/Ostrich, D-Man in the Waters (Part I) / Minus 16

Tuesday, June 17, 7:30pm - LIFT / Polish Pieces, Caught / Revelations

Wednesday, June 18, 7:30pm - Chroma / The Pleasure of the Lesson / Revelations

Thursday, June 19, 7:30pm - LIFT / Polish Pieces, Caught / Revelations

Friday, June 20, 8:00pm - "Ailey/Ellington" - Night Creature, Pas de Duke / The River / Revelations

*Saturday, June 21, 2:00pm - LIFT / Polish Pieces, Caught / Revelations

*Family Matinee - followed by a Post-Performance Q&A session with the dancers

Saturday, June 21, 8:00pm - Grace / Awassa Astrige/Ostrich, D-Man in the Waters (Part I) / Minus 16

Sunday, June 22, 3:00pm - Chroma / The Pleasure of the Lesson / Revelations

Sunday, June 22, 7:30pm - LIFT / Polish Pieces, Caught / Revelations

The 2014 Lincoln Center Engagement: Highlights:

Artistic Director Robert Battle and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will present an extended two-week 15-performance engagement at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater from June 11th to 22nd, 2014. Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Ailey's acclaimed dancers will perform a diverse repertory including the world premiere The Pleasure of the Lesson - a first-time collaboration with Robert Moses, new productions of Hans van Manen's Polish Pieces and David Parsons' signature work Caught, along with the company premiere of Asadata Dafora's groundbreaking 1932 solo Awassa Astrige/Ostrich. Other highlights include encores of this season's premieres and repertory favorites, such as Wayne McGregor's Chroma, the "Ailey/Ellington" program, and Alvin Ailey's must-see American masterpiece Revelations.

World Premiere
The Pleasure of the Lesson (2014)
Choreography by Robert Moses
Original Music by Robert Moses
Robert Moses's world premiere The Pleasure of the Lesson is being created on a cast of 10 dancers especially for the Company's Koch Theater engagement and marks his first collaboration with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Known for sexy, sophisticated choreography that makes audiences want to dance too, he has created numerous works of varying styles and genres for his highly praised dance company Robert Moses' Kin, founded in 1995 in San Francisco. His work explores topics ranging from oral traditions in African American culture (Word of Mouth, 2002), the life, times, and work of author James Baldwin (Biography of Baldwin, 2003), and the dark side of contemporary urban culture (Cause, 2004), to the nuanced complexities of parentage and identity (The Cinderella Principle, 2010), and the simple joys of the expressive power of pure movement (Toward September, 2009). Since 2008, Moses has composed original scores for several of his dances. In addition, Moses has choreographed for film, opera, theater and other dance companies, including: San Francisco Opera (La Forza del Destino, 2005), Philadanco, Cincinnati Ballet, African Cultural Exchange (UK), Oakland Ballet, the Lorraine Hansberry Theater, and Olympic Arts Festival, among others. In 2005, Moses was named Choreographer-in-Residence and Artistic Director of the Committee on Black Performing Arts at Stanford University, where he has been on the dance faculty since 1995. An alumni of California State University Long Beach and a highly regarded master teacher, Moses has taught on campuses and at festivals throughout the United States, including Bates Dance Festival, Colorado Dance Festival, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, University of Texas, and University of Nevada. He conducts movement and performance workshops internationally, most recently for artists of African descent with State of Emergency Limited in the United Kingdom.

Company Premieres and New Productions:

Awassa Astrige/Ostrich (1932)
Choreography by Asadata Dafora
Music by Carl Riley
Sierra Leone-born choreographer Asadata Dafora blended his vision of a traditional African dance with Western staging in Awassa Astrige/Ostrich - a groundbreaking 1932 solo set to Carl Riley's score of African drumming and flute. With arms flapping like wings, torso rippling and head held high, a warrior is transformed into the proud, powerful ostrich ­- the king of birds. Dafora is recognized as one of the first to present African dance on the concert stage, influencing many future artists like Pearl Primus and Katherine Dunham. Asadata Dafora, a native of free town Sierra Leone, West Africa, was 40 years old when he came to New York in 1929. Earlier, he had been in Europe teaching African dance while studying music, and for a time, sang at La Scala. However his true interest was always the rich heritage of African art and culture. Not only did he study the folklore of his own country, but he traveled extensively throughout Africa seeking additional knowledge. His unique talents burst upon the New York entertainment scene with a short run of the Opera Kykunkor, subtitled the Witch Women. Kykunkor not only shattered many myths concerning the potential of Black ethnic materials as themes for concert dance, but proved that black dancers could be successful on the American concert stage. His company Shologa Oloba, was made up of 25 Africans and African Americans whose dancing was acclaimed by critics and audiences.

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