Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Announces 60th Anniversary Season
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, New York City Center's Principal Dance Company, returns to the theater's stage from November 28 - December 30, 2018 for a milestone season. During the Company's Ailey Ascending 60th Anniversary celebration, Artistic Director Robert Battle leads Ailey's 32 extraordinary dancers during this five-week holiday engagement that will elevate a legacy of excellence in artistry with premieres by some of today's most revered and prolific choreographers, including world premieres by Rennie Harris and Ronald K. Brown; a company premiere by Wayne McGregor; a new production of by Robert Battle; the return of a recent premiere by Jessica Lang, and special performances of rarely seen works by Alvin Ailey himself.
The New York City Center season launches on Wednesday, November 28th with a 60th Anniversary Opening Night Gala benefit performance, followed by a party at the New York Hilton Grand Ballroom. Honorary Chairs for the gala are iconic screen stars Angela Bassett and Cicely Tyson. The one-night-only performance features special excerpts and premieres, including a piece d'occasion by Robert Battle set to Nina Simone's Black is the Color, and an uplifting Revelations finale performed with live musicians and special guest singers Ledisi (12-time Grammy-nominated R&B artist), Norm Lewis (Tony-nominated baritone known for Broadway's Porgy and Bess and NBC's live broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar), and Brandie Sutton (critically-acclaimed Metropolitan Opera soprano). The evening honors Prudential Financial for its generous support and longstanding commitment to Ailey, especially its educational and community programs. The special program will feature the premiere of Becoming Ailey, a multimedia piece celebrating the continual gift of Alvin Ailey's presence in our hearts, minds, and stages. Created in collaboration with the award-winning artists Bob Bonniol and Caryl Glabb of MODE Studios, Inc., it will bring the voice and presence of Alvin Ailey back to the stage at the start of each performance (except Tuesday, December 11th) during the New York City Center season.
On Friday, November 30th, Ailey unveils its first ever two-act ballet with the world premiere of Rennie Harris' Lazarus. Inspired by the life and legacy of Mr. Ailey and addressing the racial inequities our nation has faced, in 1958 when the company was founded and today, Lazarus is an ensemble work featuring a soundtrack that melds Nina Simone, Terrence Trent D'Arby, Michael Kiwanuka, Odetta, original music by Darrin Ross, and the voice of Alvin Ailey. Harris is also currently serving as Ailey's first Artist-in-Residence, leading a wide range of activities across the organization: including The Ailey School, Ailey II, Arts-in-Education, Ailey Extension, and the New Directions Choreography Lab.
Tuesday, December 4th welcomes the world premiere of The Call, Ronald K. Brown's seventh work for Ailey. Brown describes the work, which seamlessly blends modern and West African dance idioms, as "a love letter to Mr. Ailey." The music includes Johann Sebastian Bach (performed by Chris Thile, Edgar Meyere & Yo-Yo Ma), Mary Lou Williams, and Asase Yaa. Prior to the work's premiere, Brown will receive the 2018 Dance Magazine Award on December 3rd.
On Friday, December 7th, Wayne McGregor's work takes the Ailey stage once again with Kairos, his Second Company premiere (following 2013's Chroma). The title has dual meanings - one being the most opportune time to act, the other weather - and is set to Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, re-imagined by experimental composer Max Richter. Framed by Idris Khan's dramatic set design, Kairos features McGregor's angular yet sinuous movement on a cast of 10.
The season also welcomes the return of Jessica Lang's luminous 2018 premiere EN. Lang's 100th ballet and her Ailey choreographic debut, EN is a celebratory ensemble work set to original music by composer Jakub Ciupinski, with costumes by Bradon McDonald.
Following these world and Company premieres, two weeks of special programs kick off on Tuesday, December 11 with a commemoration of City Center's opening performance in 1943, as part of the theater's 75th Anniversary celebration. The Principal Dance Company of New York City Center, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has been bringing audiences there to their feet since 1971, when it became this historic theater's first resident modern dance company. The program will include Paul Taylor's Piazzolla Caldera, Twyla Tharp's The Golden Section, and Alvin Ailey's masterpiece, Revelations.
The special programs continue on Wednesday, December 12th with the premiere of Timeless Ailey, a thrilling evening featuring two acts of rarely seen excerpts from works by the Company's founder - including Streams, Pas de Duke, The Lark Ascending, For "Bird" - With Love, and many more. The program culminates with a performance of Ailey's Revelations, and repeats on December 15, 22 (mat and eve), and 30 (mat).
On Friday December 14th, the Three Visionaries program welcomes works by each the Company's artistic directors - Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison, and Robert Battle. Excerpts of two works by Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison return to the stage - Divining (1984), her first choreographic effort and a popular and critical success, and Forgotten Time (1989), a quietly uplifting work in which 12 dancers journey through ancient rituals of love and tribal rites of passage. The program also includes two works by Robert Battle - the ensemble work Mass and the thrilling duet Ella - as well as Alvin Ailey's tour-de-force solo Cry and Revelations (repeats Dec 23 mat, 26 mat).
The All Battle program premieres the following Friday, December 21st, with a new production of Robert Battle's first work for the Company, Juba (2003). The quartet explores ritual and folk traditions in modern society against an original score by frequent collaborator John Mackey. The program also includes Ella, No Longer Silent, In/Side, and Mass (repeats Dec 23 eve, 27).
Other special programs in the season include All Ailey, featuring a selection of Mr. Ailey's classics in their entirety (December 13, 15 eve, 16 mat and eve), and All New, comprising season premieres (Dec 18, 19, 20, 29 eve).
The Young New York program, supported by The Wallace Foundation as part of a multi-year audience development project, also returns this season. The initiative engages people between the ages of 21 - 30 through a series of special events and ticket offers, introducing new audiences to modern dance and the Company's inspiring legacy. Young New York Night (Thursday, November 29th) features $29 tickets for every seat in the house, and the program includes Ailey dancer Jamar Roberts Members Don't Get Weary, Jessica Lang's EN, and Revelations. Click here for program details, and to sign up (all participants must be between ages 21 - 30).
The season also includes Family Matinee Series performances presented each Saturday at 2pm, with a Q&A session featuring Ailey's revered dancers following the finale of Alvin Ailey's Revelations; live music performances of Revelations on November 30 and December 1 (mat and eve); and Ticket to Dance, a program that invites audience members to try their first Ailey Extension class FREE with a performance ticket stub. The City Center engagement culminates on Sunday, December 30 at 7:30pm with a rousing Season Finale featuring excerpts of season favorites.
The 60th Anniversary celebration continues when the Company brings the magic of Ailey to more than 20 cities during the 2019 North American tour from February 1 through May 12, 2019. Stops include Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami, Berkeley, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Newark.
When Alvin Ailey and a small group of African American modern dancers first took the stage at the 92nd Street Y in 1958, the engagement was for one night only-but it turned out to be the start of a new era in the performing arts. Mr. Ailey became one of the groundbreaking greats in African American history, while the work of his Company grew beyond the limits of the stage to encompass education at all levels, community outreach and cultural diplomacy. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater now embodies six decades of achievement, celebrating the human spirit with performances that unite and inspire all.
Tickets starting at $29 are on sale at the New York City Center Box Office, through CityTix at (212) 581-1212, or online at www.alvinailey.org or www.nycitycenter.org. All Young New York Night tickets are $29 - ticket buyers must be between ages 21-30; this group can also buy one ticket get one 50% off for any following season performance using code BOGOYNY. Discount tickets are available for Ailey Super Fans who purchase tickets for more than one performance, for students with an appropriate ID, and for groups of 10 or more (discounts do not apply to $29 tickets). For group sales, call 212-405-9082 or e-mail email@example.com. Click through for further information about Ailey's New York City Center season and 60th Anniversary Celebration.
Lazarus (World Premiere)
Choreography by Rennie Harris Music: Darrin Ross, Nina Simon, Terence Trent D'Arby, Michael Kiwanuka, Odetta
Acclaimed hip-hop choreographer Rennie (Lorenzo) Harris returns to Ailey this season with the Company's first two-act work, Lazarus. Inspired by the life and legacy of Mr. Ailey, Harris connects past and present in a powerful work that addresses the racial inequities America faced when Mr. Ailey founded this company in 1958 and still faces today. Harris' previous contributions to the Ailey repertory include Exodus (2015), Home (2011), and Love Stories (2004), an acclaimed collaboration with Judith Jamison and Robert Battle.
The Call (World Premiere)
Choreography by Ronald K. Brown Music: Johan Sebastian Bach, Mary Lou Williams, Asase Yaa Entertainment Group
Ronald K. Brown's joyous mix of modern and West African dance idioms - seen previously in Grace (1999), Open Door (2015), Four Corners (2013), and other works - fits the Ailey dancers perfectly, and his themes of spiritual awakening and redemption never fail to inspire. The Call, which is Brown's seventh work for the Company, promises to once again rouse audiences with Brown's infectious call for harmony and hope.
EN (2018-19 Season World Premiere)
Choreography by Jessica Lang Music: Jakub Ciupinski
Jessica Lang, a 2014 New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Award and 2017 Arison Award recipient, makes her choreographic debut on the Ailey company with the world premiere EN, her 100th ballet. EN - whose multiple meanings in Japanese signify circle, destiny, fate and karma - is a celebratory ensemble work set to original music by composer Jakub Ciupinski, with costumes by Bradon McDonald. According to Lang, the work "reflects on the universal experience of coming full circle and, as time passes, we recognize the people we meet along life's journey who play a part in the fate and destiny of our lives." Artistic Director of Jessica Lang Dance since 2011, Lang has created original works for major companies around the world like American Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and National Ballet of Japan. Lang's choreography has demonstrated a breathtaking range of influences, including interests in visual art, theatrical lyricism, the geometry of the human body, and the nuances of bodily gesture.
Kairos (2014 / Company Premiere 2018)
Choreography by Wayne McGregor Music: Max Richter
Kairos, choreographer Wayne McGregor's second Ailey Company premiere, fills the stage with sinuous, angular movement and synchronicity. Drawn from the ancient Greek language, the word "Kairos" has dual meanings, the first being the most opportune time to take action and the second being weather. The ballet is framed by Idris Khan's dramatic set design and played out to Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, re-imagined by experimental composer Max Richter. Ailey is the first American company to perform Kairos, which originally premiered in 2014 as part of the STEPS contemporary dance festival in Switzerland.
Juba (2003 / New Production 2018)
Juba, Artistic Director Robert Battle's first work for the Company, explores where ritual and folk traditions exist in today's society, as four dancers engage in a modern day "Rite of Spring" with an abstract twist. An original score by John Mackey for string quartet and percussion drives the mood of this edgy, ritualistic work, called "electrifying" by The New York Times.
Choreography by Alvin Ailey Music: Various Artists
This special program brings new vitality to over a dozen treasures from Mr. Ailey's wonderfully rich body of work, including highlights of seldom-seen gems Choral Dances, Mary Lou's Mass, and The Lark Ascending as well as perennial favorites like Memoria, Night Creature, and Cry. Act I excerpts: Blues Suite (1958), Streams (1970), Pas de Duke (1976), Mary Lou's Mass (1971), The Lark Ascending (1972), Hidden Rites (1973), Night Creature (1974), and Cry (1971). Act II excerpts: Phases (1980), Opus McShann (1988), For Bird - With Love (1984), Love Songs (1984), Memoria (1979).
2017-2018 SEASON PREMIERES & NEW PRODUCTIONS
Members Don't Get Weary (2017 World Premiere)
Choreography by Jamar Roberts Music: John Coltrane
Longtime Ailey dancer and recent "Bessie" Award winner Jamar Roberts makes his choreographic debut on the Company in this world premiere inspired by the blues. Roberts says, "As a response to the current social landscape in America, Members Don't Get Weary takes an abstract look into the notion of one 'having the blues.'" Set to the powerful music of the legendary American jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane, the work aims to inspire the audience, allowing them to momentarily transcend their own personal blues.
Shelter (1988 / Company Premiere 1992 / New Production 2017)
Choreography by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar Music: Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn
Originally performed by the Ailey company in 1992, Zollar's Shelter is a gripping portrait of homelessness. Set to an inventive score which incorporates drumming by Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn and poetry by Hattie Gossett and Laurie Carlos, Shelter delivers the compelling message that the poverty of individuals will inevitably lead to the destitution of all humanity.
Stack-Up (1982 / New Production 2017)
Choreography by Talley Beatty Music: Earth, Wind & Fire, Grover Washington, Jr., Fearless Four, Alphonze
Set to the background of a throbbing 1970s beat (Earth, Wind and Fire, Grover Washington Jr., Fearless Four, and Alphonze Mouzon) and a graffiti landscape, patrons in a crowded disco dance with attitude, sass, and fierce despair in this classic work by Talley Beatty, which was re-staged in conjunction with the 2018 centennial of his birth. Inspired by Los Angeles' urban landscape and the lives of its disparate inhabitants, Stack-Up depicts the emotional "traffic" in a community that is stacked on top of each other. Tough, brutal yet poignant, the stage sizzles with street life, break dancing, and physical pyrotechnics as an aloof drug pusher and two displaced lovers are destined for collision.
The Golden Section (1983 / Company Premiere 2006 / New Production 2017)
Choreography by Twyla Tharp Music: David Byrne
The Golden Section by Tony Award-winning choreographer Twyla Tharp is a sizzling work set to a propulsive score by David Byrne. The work shatters the limits of human physicality with breathtaking leaps, finely-honed partnering, and explosive joy.
In addition to the premieres, new productions, and special programs, the season repertory includes:
Cry - Judith Jamison (1971)
Music: Alice Coltrane, Laura Nyro, Voices of East Harlem
Divining (excerpt) - Judith Jamison
Music: Monti Ellison & Kimati Dinizulu
Ella - Robert Battle (2016)
Music: Ella Fitzgerald
Forgotten Time (excerpt) - Judith Jamison
Music: Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares
In/Side - Robert Battle (2008)
Music: Nina Simone
Love Songs - Alvin Ailey (1972)
Music: Donny Hathaway & Nina Simone
Masekela Langage - Alvin Ailey (1969)
Music: Hugh Masekela
Mass - Robert Battle (2017)
Music: John Mackey
Memoria - Alvin Ailey (1979)
Music: Keith Jarrett
Night Creature - Alvin Ailey (1974)
Music: Duke Ellington
No Longer Silent - Robert Battle (2007)
Music: Erwin Schulhoff
Piazzolla Caldera - Paul Taylor (2015)
Music: Astor Piazzolla, Jerzy Peterburshsky
Revelations - Alvin Ailey 1960
Music: Traditional Spirituals