Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's 21- City North American Tour Starts Today
Following an acclaimed five-week season launch in New York City,Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will continue to grace stages from coast to coast during a 21-city North American tour beginning January 30th in Chapel Hill, NC. On February 6th, a week-long engagement at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. opens with a gala to benefit Ailey's D.C. programs, including the creation of new works, arts-in-education activities, and scholarships to talented young area dancers to attend The Ailey School in New York. Black History Month performances kick off inMemphis - where the heroic Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated 50 years ago - before spreading Ailey's legacy of uniting, enlightening, and educating people of all backgrounds throughout the month in Washington D.C., Birmingham, Miami, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Charlotte. Other highlights on the tour include Chicago, Houston, Boston and Berkeley, culminating with a Mother's Day performance inNewark on May 13th.
Artistic Director Robert Battle leads Ailey's 32 extraordinary dancers as they continue to uplift with their passionate artistry through the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition. The tour's expansive repertory is highlighted in a wide variety of programs featuring premieres, new productions and returning favorites by rising talents and choreographic masters, including Alvin Ailey's American masterpiece Revelations - acclaimed as a must-see for all.
World premieres include Ailey star Jamar Roberts' Members Don't Get Weary, his choreographic debut for the Company, which he joined in 2002. Roberts calls the work "a response to the current social landscape in America" that "takes an abstract look into the notion of one 'having the blues," and aims to inspire audiences to transcend their own personal blues. Hailed for being "as emotional as it was virtuosic" (The New York Times), the work is set to the powerful music of the legendary jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane 50 years after his death. Spanish choreographer Gustavo Ramírez Sansano's work takes the Ailey stage for the first time with his world premiere, Victoria. The work pairs the choreographer's audacious, athletic movement style with the propulsive drive of "Rewriting Beethoven's Seventh Symphony" by award-winning composer Michael Gordon to create a work that feels vital and thrillingly of-the-moment. 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, Ballet Hispánico, and Atlanta Ballet.
The tour will also include a striking Company premiere by Robert Battle, and riveting new productions by three American dance innovators. Battle's Mass is an ensemble work that gives physical life to a haunting score by frequent collaborator John Mackey. Tony Award-winning choreographer Twyla Tharp's The Golden Section is a sizzling ensemble work filled with breathtaking leaps, finely-honed partnering, and explosive joy, and is set to a propulsive score by David Byrne. Urban Bush Women founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar'sShelter is a gripping portrait of homelessness that returns to the Ailey stage 25 years after first being performed by the Company. Set to an inventive score featuring drumming by Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn and poetry by Hattie Gossett and Laurie Carlos, the work includes a new ending with revised text highlighting recent hurricanes and how our shelter can be threatened by climate change. Ailey also celebrates modern dance pioneer Talley Beatty during his centennial with the return of Stack-Up, set to the background of vibrant 1970s beats (Earth, Wind & Fire, Grover Washington Jr., Fearless Four, and Alphonze Mouzon) and a graffiti landscape. 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.
And of course, the tour would be incomplete without Alvin Ailey's American masterpiece Revelations. Since its creation in 1960, Revelations has been seen by more audiences around the world than any other modern work, inspiring generations through its powerful storytelling and soul-stirring spirituals. Springing from Ailey's childhood memories of growing up in the south and attending services at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Texas, Revelations pays homage to the rich African-American cultural heritage and explores the emotional spectrum of the human condition. Revelations has been performed as part of Opening Ceremonies of the 1968 Olympics, for six sitting presidents at various events, at the inaugurations of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and at The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison, presented by then First Lady Michelle Obama. Acknowledging its lasting significance after five decades, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution recognizing the artistic and cultural contributions of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the 50th Anniversary of the first performance of Revelations. Hailed by The New York Times as "modern dance's unquestionable greatest hit," this American masterpiece was choreographed when Alvin Ailey was only 29 years old, and is as relevant now as ever.
After a successful pilot year in Atlanta, the Ailey organization is also excited to continue the Destination Dance Ailey Atlanta initiative throughout 2018. The program brings together all aspects of Ailey, with the goal of engaging communities through collaborations with local cultural, civic, and educational institution. Activities with the 10 current partners have included performances, classes and workshops for the public, education programs in schools, Ailey II's first-ever Atlanta performances, and more. For more information, visit Destination.Dance.
Tour audiences are also invited to enjoy the "Ticket to Dance" promotion during their next visit to New York City. The offer allows audience members to try their first Ailey Extension class FREE with an Ailey performance ticket stub (offer is good for 60 days from the performance date for first time students, and when purchasing a 10-class card for returning students). Ailey Extension offers more than 25 dance and fitness techniques for people of all levels at Ailey's home, The Joan Weill Center for Dance - New York's largest building dedicated to dance - which expanded in the fall of 2017 with the opening of The Elaine Wynn & Family Education Wing, making it possible for more students of all levels and ages to "join in the dance." The upward addition added three stories to the west side of the building, with four spacious new dance studios, and two flexible classrooms, bringing Ailey's total class offerings to more than 500 per week - an increase of 20% since the start of the project.
In conjunction with the tour, Ailey Extension will also step out of New York City and into select cities across the country to offer dance workshops to teens and adults of all backgrounds and levels. Designed to expand Alvin Ailey's life-long commitment of bringing dance to everyone, "Ailey Experience" workshops teach students the rich history of Ailey's signature style, which changed the perception of modern American dance around the world. From February through April, former Ailey dancers and world class instructors will lead Ailey Experience workshops in several cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte, and Washington DC. Click here for information.
The Ailey Organization continues its mission of using dance to educate young people through special activities, including master classes, student performances, lecture-demonstrations throughout the tour, and innovative curriculum-based residencies for public school students. Revelations: An Interdisciplinary Approach, created in 1999, and since implemented nationwide and internationally, uses Mr. Ailey's signature work, Revelations, as an organizing theme for a comprehensive, in-depth study of language arts, social studies and dance. Similarly, Night Creature: An Imaginative Journey Through Dance uses Mr. Ailey's Night Creature, set to a sparkling score by Duke Ellington, as a framework for young students to explore the power of their imaginations through writing poetry, drawing, and creating their own choreography. This year, residencies will be implemented in several cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. In addition, students from AileyCamp - a free summer program that helps underserved youth reach their full potential - will experience the magic of the Company's live performances. The award-winning program is implemented in 10 cities across the country: Atlanta, Kansas City (KS and MO), Baltimore, Berkeley, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, New York City (Bronx), and Newark.
The Ailey School - the official school of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater offering world-class dance training to students ages 2-25 - will hold auditions for the 2018-2019 academic programs as well as the 2018 summer intensive in conjunction with the tour in cities including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, D.C. and New York. Several cities will also feature a Horton Workshop on the night prior to the audition. Annually, The Ailey School trains more than 3,500 students, offering over 400 classes every week. The diversity of its training together with individualized mentorship, extensive performance opportunities, and support services, is what sets The Ailey School apart from every other dance academy. A majority of the dancers in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater studied at The Ailey School. For further information regarding the audition schedule, please clickhere.
Nearly 60 years after its founding, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater continues to move forward under the leadership of Robert Battle, revealing once again why it remains one of the world's most beloved dance companies. Come see why The Huffington Post proclaimed, "If you haven't seen Alvin Ailey, you haven't seen dance...the most exciting dance company in the world," and The Chicago Sun-Times called the Company "more electrifying than ever." For more information, visit www.alvinailey.org.
PHOTO: AAADT's Michael Jackson, Jr. Photo by Andrew Eccles