Gustavo Ramirez World Premiere, New Works by Twyla Tharp and More Set for Alvin Ailey's 2017 New York City Center Season
Artistic Director Robert Battle leads Ailey's 32 extraordinary dancers during this annual five-week engagement, which has become a joyous holiday tradition. The repertory features more than two dozen diverse works by some of the world's preeminent dance-makers, including world premieres by Spanish choreographer Gustavo Ramírez Sansano and Ailey dancer Jamar Roberts, as well as new productions by Twyla Tharp, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and Talley Beatty.
The season launches on November 29th with an Opening Night Gala Benefit performance at New York City Center and party at The New York Hilton Midtown Grand Ballroom. The Gala honors Ailey Board President Debra L. Lee for her commitment to the advancement of arts and culture and her dedication to the organization, which has helped steer Ailey to success since she joined the Board in 2002. The evening raises funds to support the creation of new works and Ailey's extensive educational and training programs for young people. The one-night-only performance features excerpts of dynamic works set to music from the "Modern American Songbook," and culminates with an uplifting Revelations finale featuring live musicians and singers.
On Friday, December 1st, Spanish choreographer Gustavo Ramírez Sansano's work takes the Ailey stage for the first time with Victoria. Set to Beethoven's Seventh Symphony - adapted by the award-winning composer Michael Gordon - Victoria features Sansano's signature whimsy, theatricality, and physicality. Sansano's work - hailed for its originality and expressiveness - has appeared on companies around the world, including Nederlands Dans Theater, Compañía Nacional de Danza, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Atlanta Ballet.
One week later, on Friday, December 8th, Ailey dancer Jamar Roberts will unveil his first work for the Company - Members Don't Get Weary. The recent "Bessie" Award-winner says the work is "a response to the current social landscape in America," and "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 uses movement to allow the audience to momentarily transcend their own personal blues.
In addition to world premieres, the season features new productions of works by three American dance innovators. Tony Award-winning choreographer Twyla Tharp's The Golden Section returns to the repertory on Wednesday, December 6th. This sizzling ensemble work is set to a propulsive score by David Byrne, and shatters the limits of human physicality with breathtaking leaps, finely-honed partnering, and explosive joy.
On Tuesday, December 12th, Urban Bush Women founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Shelter returns to the Ailey stage 25 years after first being performed by the Company. A passionate statement about the physical and emotional deprivation of the homeless, the work is set to an inventive score which incorporates drumming by Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn and poetry by Hattie Gossett and Laurie Carlos.
On Wednesday, December 13th, Ailey celebrates modern dance pioneer Talley Beatty on his upcoming centennial with the return of Stack Up. Set to the background of vibrant 1970s beats (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. Inspired by Los Angeles' urban landscape and the lives of its disparate inhabitants, the work depicts the emotional "traffic" in a community that is stacked on top of each other.
"The incomparable Ailey dancers are sure to astound audiences this season when they bring to life a wide array of works - old and new," stated Artistic Director Robert Battle. "I'm thrilled for the Company choreographic debuts of Gustavo Ramírez Sansano and our very own Jamar Roberts, who has brought so much brilliance to the stage since joining Ailey 15 years ago. New productions highlight three of the most revered and unique choreographic voices in the history of American dance: Twyla Tharp's The Golden Section, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Shelter - for its 25th Ailey anniversary - and the legendary Talley Beatty's Stack Up, as we approach his upcoming centennial. From our one-night-only opening saluting the "Modern American Songbook" to our New Year's Eve finale, this season's special performances and programs will prove once again why the holidays in New York aren't complete without Ailey."
Another exciting highlight to the season is the Sunday, December 17th evening performance Celebrating the Men of Ailey. The program will showcase the strength, grace, and dynamism of the Company's male dancers in works by Alvin Ailey - the dazzling Night Creature, tour-de-force solo Love Songs, and the masterpiece Revelations - along with a variety of other special one-night-only performances to be announced.
In addition, the engagement showcases a variety of 2016-17 season premieres: Robert Battle's Mass, set to a score by his frequent collaborator John Mackey, and Ella, set to Ella Fitzgerald's virtuosic scatting in "Air Mail Special;" Ailey dancer Hope Boykin's r-Evolution, Dream., inspired by the speeches and sermons of DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. that she encountered during a visit to the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta; Kyle Abraham's Untitled America, which highlights the impact of the prison system on African-American families; and Johan Inger's Walking Mad, a daring contemporary take on Maurice Ravel's Bolero that employs a long, movable wall, and brings waves of emotion - first laughter, then tears.
2016 new productions coming to life onstage include Billy Wilson's The Winter in Libson (1992), a rhythmic and colorful celebration of the great Dizzy Gillespie, and Masekela Langage (1969), Alvin Ailey's searing portrait of oppression - set to Hugh Masekela's driving music - that draws parallels between the era of South African apartheid and the race-induced violence in Chicago during the 1960s.
Special season programs include All Ailey performances comprised entirely of works by Alvin Ailey (December 10 mat and 30 eve), All Jazz performances celebrating the marriage of jazz music and modern dance (December 14 and 17 mat), and All New programs containing season premieres (December 16 eve, 22, 23 eve, and 31 mat).
The engagement 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, which is acclaimed as a must-see for all ages. Revelations will bring an inspiring close to the performance on Christmas Eve (December 24 matinee) as well as a Special Season Finale on New Year's Eve. Live music performances of Revelations will take place on November 29, and December 1-2 (matinee and evening). A detailed performance schedule is attached (subject to change).
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater inspires all in a universal celebration of the human spirit using the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition. Nearly 60 years after its founding, Ailey continues to move forward under the leadership of Robert Battle, revealing once again why Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is one of the world's most beloved dance companies.
Tickets starting at $29 are on sale Tuesday, September 5 at The New York City Center Box Office, through CityTix at (212) 581-1212, or online at www.alvinailey.org or www.nycitycenter.org. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information about Ailey's New York City Center season visit www.alvinailey.org.
New York City Center 2017 Season Highlights:
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will take the stage at New York City Center from November 29 - December 31, 2017 in a five-week season that has become a joyous holiday tradition. Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Ailey's acclaimed dancers will perform an expansive repertory of more than two dozen works, including the world premieres of Ailey dancer Jamar Roberts' Members Don't Get Weary and Gustavo Ramírez Sansano's Victoria. The season also includes new productions of Twyla Tharp's The Golden Section, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Shelter - for its 25th Ailey anniversary - and Talley Beatty's Stack Up, in celebration of his centennial. The season launches on November 29th with an Opening Night Gala Benefit honoring Board President Debra L. Lee, which includes a performance at New York City Center and party at The New York Hilton Midtown Grand Ballroom to raise funds to support the creation of new works and Ailey's extensive educational and training programs for young people. Other highlights include special live music performances of Revelations; an evening Celebrating the Men of Ailey; All Ailey, All Jazz, and All New programs; a Season Finale on New Year's Eve; and the Family Matinee Series with a post-performance Q&A with Ailey dancers.
Members Don't Get Weary (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 uses the dancing body to inspire the audience, allowing them to momentarily transcend their own personal blues.
Victoria (World Premiere)
Choreography by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano Music: Michael Gordon
Gustavo Ramírez Sansano's work - hailed for its singularity and expressionism - has appeared on companies around the world, including Nederlands Dans Theater, Compañía Nacional de Danza, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Atlanta Ballet. Set to award-winning composer Michael Gordon's adaptation of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, Victoria - Sansano's first work for Ailey - features his signature whimsy, theatricality, and physicality.
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.
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 passionate statement about the physical and emotional deprivation of homeless people. 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 (1983 / Company Premiere 1992 / New Production 2017)
Choreography by Talley Beatty Music: Earth, Wind and Fire, Grover Washington, Jr., Fearless Four, Alphonze Mouzon
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. 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.
2016-2017 SEASON PREMIERES & NEW PRODUCTIONS:
Ella (2008 / 2016 Company Premiere)
Choreography by Robert Battle Music: Ella Fitzgerald
Originally created as a solo, this high-energy comical dance was reinvented as a duet by the Ailey company for its December 2016 Opening Night Gala benefit, "An Evening of Ailey and Jazz" - in anticipation of the legendary singer Ella Fitzgerald's centennial in April 2017. Using a live concert recording of Fitzgerald performing the song "Airmail Special," Ella matches the iconic singer's virtuosic scatting with lightning-fast, articulated movement in an irresistible tour-de-force that leaves audiences (and the dancers) breathless.
Masekela Langage (1969 / 2016 New Production)
Choreography by Alvin Ailey Music: Hugh Masekela
Masekela Langage, a rarely-seen Ailey masterwork, which premiered at Connecticut College in 1969, was last performed at BAM during the Company's 50th anniversary. Set in a shebeen (a South African beer house) and danced to the driving score of South African jazz composer and trumpeter Hugh Masekela, Ailey's choreography speaks of passivity, militancy, despair, and defiance in a searing portrait of oppression during the apartheid era, drawing parallels between events in South Africa and those in Chicago.
Mass (2004 / 2017 Company Premiere)
Choreography by Robert Battle Music: John Mackey
Mass features a score by John Mackey, who has collaborated on multiple occasions with Robert Battle - including his 2015 world premiere Awakening. Commissioned for The Julliard School in 2004, the movement in this work showcases Mr. Battle's signature ritualistic choreography.
r-Evolution, Dream. (2016 World Premiere)
Choreography by Hope Boykin Music: Ali Jackson
Veteran Company member Hope Boykin was inspired by the sermons and speeches of DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. to create r-Evolution, Dream. after immersing herself in this historical material after a visit to the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, during Ailey's U.S. tour. Convinced of the timely relevance of the messages, she staged the large ensemble work that melds creative storytelling, new music composed by Ali Jackson (Jazz at Lincoln Center), and historic and original writings narrated by Tony Award winner Leslie Odom, Jr. (Hamilton).
Untitled America (2016 World Premiere)
Choreography by Kyle Abraham Music: Laura Mvula, Raime, Traditional
In this haunting work, MacArthur "Genius" Kyle Abraham shines a light on the impact of the prison system on African-American families. Developed over three seasons, the work features interviews by those impacted by incarceration. Laura Mvula's touching "Father, Father," the traditional spiritual "No More My Lord," contemporary music by Raime, and other musical compositions underscore Abraham's distinct movement style and signature avant-garde aesthetic. Wendy Perron of Dance Magazine praised the first installment of Untitled America by saying, "This is something our culture should be looking at...Kudos to Ailey-and Abraham-for keeping the revelations relevant."
Walking Mad (2001 / 2016 Company Premiere)
Choreography by Johan Inger Music: Maurice Ravel, Arvo Pärt
Revered Swedish choreographer Johan Inger's Walking Mad is his first work for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Set to the driving sounds of Ravel's much-loved Boléro as well as music by minimalist master Arvo Pärt, the rousing 28-minute work for 9 dancers grips audiences throughout, bringing waves of emotion - first laughter, then tears. Full of wit and laced with an unsettling edge of madness, the piece employs a long, movable wall that can also be viewed as a symbol of the barriers people construct in their relationships. According to the choreographer, "The famous Boléro from Ravel, with its sexual, almost kitschy history, was the trigger point to make my own version. I quickly decided that it was going to be about relationships in different forms and circumstances. I came up with the idea of a wall that could transform the space during this minimalistic music and create small pockets of space and situations. Walking Mad is a journey in which we encounter our fears, our longings and the lightness of being."
The Winter in Lisbon (1992 / New Production 2016)
Choreography by Billy Wilson Music: Dizzy Gillespie
The Winter in Lisbon is a sizzling, sensuous ballet celebrating four decades of Dizzy Gillespie's brilliant music. Choreographed in 1992 by Billy Wilson, the work pays tribute to Mr. Gillespie, the consummate jazz musician, creating an atmosphere in which the dancers challenge, tease, and romance against a backdrop of rhythm and color. Wilson's exuberant, playful ballet was conceived in celebration of Gillespie's birthday after Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison was approached by the musician's management to create a dance for his music. Confident in Wilson's ability to blend his eclectic ballet and modern dance training with the boisterous sound of Gillespie's music, Jamison commissioned him to bring the project to life. "It's a celebration of life," explains Ailey's Associate Artistic Director Masazumi Chaya, who restaged the work. "It's fun, it's full of energy, it's about life going on."
In addition to the premieres, new productions, and special programs, the season repertory includes:
After the Rain Pas de Deux - Christopher Wheeldon (2005)
Music: Arvo Pärt
Cry - Judith Jamison (1971)
Music: Alice Coltrane, Laura Nyro, Voices of East Harlem
Deep - Mauro Bigonzetti (2016)
Episodes - Ulysses Dove (1989)
Music: Robert Ruggieri
Exodus - Rennie Harris (2015)
Music: Raphael Xavier, Ost & Kjex
Four Corners - Ronald K. Brown (2013)
Music: Carl Hancock Rux, Rahsaan, Roland Kirk, Yacoub
The Hunt - Robert Battle (2001)
Music: Les Tambours du Bronx
In/Side - Robert Battle (2008)
Music: Nina Simone
Love Songs - Alvin Ailey (1972)
Music: Donny Hathaway & Nina Simone
Memoria - Alvin Ailey (1970)
Music: Keith Jarrett
Night Creature - Alvin Ailey (1974)
Music: Duke Ellington
No Longer Silent - Robert Battle (2007)
Music: Erwin Schulhoff
Revelations - Alvin Ailey 1960
Music: Traditional Spirituals
SEASON HIGHLIGHTS & SPECIAL PROGRAMS:
Opening Night Gala Benefit (Nov. 29 at 7pm)
The 2017 Opening Night Gala Benefit honoring Board President Debra L. Lee includes a performance featuring a special one-night-only medley of Ailey works set to music from the "Modern American Songbook," as well as Alvin Ailey's Revelations with live musicians and singers. Followed by a dinner-dance at The New York Hilton Midtown Grand Ballroom, the benefit raises support for the creation of new works and Ailey's extensive educational and training programs for young people.
Family Matinee Series (Dec. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30)
On Saturday afternoons, bring the whole family to enjoy the performance and stay for a free Q & A with the Ailey dancers in the theater following the inspiring finale of Revelations, which is acclaimed as a must-see for all ages.
Celebrating the Men of Ailey (Dec. 17 at 7:30pm)
Ailey celebrates the strength, power, and dynamism of its male dancers with a special program featuring four works by Mr. Ailey - Night Creature, Love Songs, and Revelations - along with one-night-only special performances to be announced.
Christmas Eve Performance (Dec. 24 mat)
Dance into the holidays with a festive matinee performance on Christmas Eve, featuring Twyla Tharp's The Golden Section, Billy Wilson's The Winter In Lisbon, Robert Battle's Ella, and Alvin Ailey's timeless Revelations.
New Year's Eve Season Finale (Dec. 31 eve)
Join Ailey for a very special New Year's Eve Season Finale. The performance will include repertory favorites, and a Revelations finale.
Revelations - performed with live music - November 29, December 1, and 2 (mat and eve)
"All Ailey" Programs - December 10 mat, 30 eve
"All Jazz" Programs - December 14 and 17 mat
"All New" Programs - December 16 eve, 22, 23 eve, 31 mat
The New York City Center season welcomes the return of "Ticket to Dance," which invites audience members to try their first Ailey Extension class FREE with the presentation of a performance ticket stub (returning students receive a free class with the purchase of a 10-class card). The offer is valid for 60 days from the performance date. The Ailey Extension has fulfilled Alvin Ailey's life?long commitment of bringing dance to everyone by offering "real classes for real people," with over 80 classes per week in more than 25 different dance and fitness techniques.