Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin

This year’s gala honored beloved trailblazer and iconic Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison in her 80th year.

By: Dec. 02, 2023

Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin

On November 29, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater kicked off its 65th anniversary season at a star-studded Opening Night Gala complete with a rousing performance and party. Honorary Chairs for the evening were Tony®, Emmy®, and GRAMMY® Award-winning and Oscar-nominated actress, singer, author, and producer Cynthia Erivo and 3x Emmy® Award-winning co-host of ABC’s “The View” and?2x New York Times?best-selling author Sunny Hostin.

Check out photos from the evening below!

This year’s gala honored beloved trailblazer and iconic Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison in her 80th year. The celebration paid tribute to her legendary career as a groundbreaking dancer, choreographer, and visionary leader who has left an indelible mark on Ailey, the greater dance community, and American culture.

The one-night-only performance began with A Tribute and Celebration for Judith Jamison, a creation by two other extraordinary women who were inspired by this beloved legend - the acclaimed choreographer and former Ailey dancer Hope Boykin along with Cynthia Erivo, an artist who has touched the hearts of millions on stage, screen, and the recording world. This spectacular pièce d ’occasion - a love letter to Judith Jamison in her 80th year evoking her artistry, strength, and transformative role in Ailey’s history – featured the Ailey dancers moving to live renditions of “Feeling Good” and “Both Sides Now” interpreted by vocal powerhouse Cynthia Erivo and accompanied by an orchestra, including acclaimed musicians Damien Sneed and Edward W. Hardy. As a birthday present to Ms. Jamison, Elaine P. Wynn & Family Foundation provided generous support for the new work.

“To be able to honor a legendary woman, thought leader, and mentor in a celebration was more of a gift to me,” stated choreographer Hope Boykin. “I wanted her to know, see, and feel my love.”

The performance culminated with the inspiring finale of Alvin Ailey’s signature masterpiece Revelations featuring an unforgettable score of spirituals sung live by a soul-stirring choir.

Afterwards the festivities continued at the iconic Ziegfeld Ballroom where 600 guests from the worlds of entertainment, business, philanthropy, and politics gathered for dinner and dancing with live music by premier band Élan Artists. Special guests in attendance included Chef Maya-Camille Broussard, Dario Calmese, Tremaine Emory, Jillian Hervey, André Holland, LaChanze, Bianca Lawson, Damaris Lewis, Alicia Graf Mack, Olga Merediz, Marcus Samuelsson, Bevy Smith, Lorraine Toussaint, Lena Waithe, and Damian Woetzel.

The gala co-chairs were Emily & Len Blavatnik, Raina & Jack Pitts, Dr. Danielle Robinson & Reverend Dwayne McClary, Daria L. & Eric J. Wallach, Joan & Sandy Weill, Elaine Wynn and Pamela D. Zilly & John H. Schaefer; vice chairs are Jill & Gunther Bright, Anthony S. Kendall, Anthony A. Lewis, and Leslie & Tom Maheras. $2.5 million was raised in support of the creation of new works, scholarships to The Ailey School, and Ailey’s education programs for children.

The five-week holiday engagement continues through New Year’s Eve and features the world premieres of CENTURY by Ailey’s first ever Artist-in-Residence Amy Hall Garner and Me, Myself and You by former Ailey Dancer Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish; as well as new productions of Ronald K. Brown’s Dancing Spirit, Jamar Roberts’ Ode, Alonzo King’s Following the Subtle Current Upstream and Hans van Manen’s Solo. Throughout the season audiences will also be treated to a variety of special programs including ‘Pioneering Women of Ailey’ celebrating Ailey’s leading ladies Carmen de Lavallade, Judith Jamison, Denise Jefferson and Sylvia Waters;  ‘Ailey & Jazz’ with live music; and a variety of returning favorites including Alvin Ailey’s must-see masterpiece Revelations. This year all are invited to join in the dance with Ailey Extension on Saturday, December 2nd at 3:30pm during Revelations Around the World - a free online global celebration where people from all over the world come together to learn the steps of this beloved American classic. 

The Company will continue to inspire audiences from coast to coast on a National Tour to over 20 cities from January – May 2024. For information on how to experience the magic of Ailey, visit the link below. 

Photo Credit: Pete Monsanto, Christopher Duggan

Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin
Samantha Figgins

Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin
Ziegfield Ballroom

Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin
Alvin Ailey's Revelations

Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin
Chalvar Monteiro

Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin
Shannah Richardson

Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin
Judith Jamison

Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin
Gala Co-Chair Elaine Wynn

Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin
Cynthia Erivo and Constance Stamatiou

Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin
Cynthia Erivo

Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin
Sunny Hostin

Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin
LaChanze

Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin
Lena Waithe

Photos: Ailey's Opening Night Gala Honors Living Legend Judith Jamison with Honorary Chairs Cynthia Erivo and Sunny Hostin
Maya Helle and Marcus Samuelsson

 




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