NJPAC Welcomes Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for Mother's Day Weekend

Elegant, electrifying and marvelously athletic, this always dazzling company returns with programs that include some of its newest works along with Alvin Ailey's classic Revelations at NJPAC May 12-14. Tickets start at $25 for each performance.

May 12 - Jazz Vibes. Cool Moves:

an evening of dance flavored by the music of Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald

May 13 - An Evening of Dynamic Rhythm: showcasing three groundbreaking choreographers (Rennie Harris, Christopher Wheeldon and Kyle Abraham) and hosted by Savion Glover

May 14 - To Mom, with Love: A Mother's Day she'll never forget!


Jazz Vibes. Cool Moves

Friday, May 12

Prudential Hall

8pm

Thrill to the sounds of jazz greats in this inspired evening of dance flavored by the music of Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald. In addition, NJPAC's talented Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens warms up the lobby crowd by performing selections from the Songbook at 7pm.

The Winter in Lisbon is a sizzling, sensuous ballet celebrating four decades of Dizzy Gillespie's brilliant music. Choreographed in 1992 by Billy Wilson, and restaged for the 2017 centennial of Dizzy Gillespie's birth, 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.

Veteran company member Hope Boykin was inspired by the sermons and speeches of DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. to create r-Evolution, Dream., following a visit to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta during Ailey's annual U.S. tour. This large ensemble work 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). Boykin just completed her 16th year with Ailey, and r-Evolution, Dream. is her third world premiere for the Company. She has also set works on The Ailey School and travels the world teaching, choreographing, and sharing all she's learned with as many students as she can reach, encouraging them through discipline, care and mentoring.

Robert Battle's Ella, originally created as a solo, is a high-energy comical dance 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. Simon & Schuster's children's book My Story, My Dancetells Robert Battle's story of growing up in Liberty City, Miami, and overcoming hardships on the road to success. Like the thousands of children reached through Ailey's educational programs each year, Battle was inspired to dance by a performance of Revelations that he saw as a young boy. His inspiring story celebrates the impact of Mr. Ailey's powerful and thriving legacy. Last year, Robert Battle debuted Awakening, his first world premiere since becoming Artistic Director in 2011, and his ninth work to enter the Ailey repertory. In addition to recognition for his own choreographic prowess, he has also received acclaim for the exciting new works that he has commissioned for the Company. Recently, Battle collaborated on a breathtaking film short, Moonlight x Ailey, creating an original dance piece that pays homage to 2016 Best Picture Winner Moonlight, written and directed by fellow Liberty City natives Tarell Alvin McCraney and Barry Jenkins.

Since its creation in 1960, Revelations has consistently enraptured audiences all over the world with the perfect blend of reverent grace and spiritual elation. Alvin Ailey's signature masterpiece pays homage to and reflects the cultural heritage of the African-American, what Ailey thought of as one of America's richest treasures-"sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful."


An Evening of Dynamic Rhythm

Hosted by Savion Glover

Saturday, May 13

Prudential Hall

8pm

Works by three groundbreaking choreographers (Rennie Harris, Christopher Wheeldon and Kyle Abraham) are showcased in this program introduced by tap master Savion Glover. For the second year, DanceWorks & Company of Montclair performs a trio of works in the lobby at 7pm.

Acclaimed hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris explores the idea of "exodus," from one's ignorance and conformity, as a necessary step toward enlightenment. Set to gospel and house music along with spoken word, Exodus underscores the crucial role of action and movement in effecting change. Exemplifying his view of hip hop as a "celebration of life," Exodus marks Harris' latest invitation to return to spiritual basics and affirm who we are.

Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain was an instant hit when it premiered in 2005 at New York City Ballet's annual New Combinations Evening, which honors the anniversary of George Balanchine's birth with world premiere ballets. A ballet in two parts, the work's second section is a male-female After the Rain Pas de Deux that has become a standalone piece. Praised for its sublime simplicity and intricate partnering, it will be revealed in a fresh light as the Ailey dancers make it their own. Set to music by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, the sensual duet has resonated deeply with audiences and is the first work by Christopher Wheeldon to enter the Ailey repertory. Dance Magazine described After the Rain as "an intelligently, masterfully choreographed ballet that strikes an emotional chord. The still point at the heart of the work lingers long after the curtain has descended."

In the complete production of this haunting three-part suite Untitled America, 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. Fusing many facets of dance vocabulary, Abraham's movement style is decidedly original and contains wealth of physical detail that resonates with the Ailey dancers' trademark versatility.


To Mom, with Love

Sunday, May 14

Prudential Hall

3pm

A Mother's Day she'll never forget ... begin with a buffet brunch at NICO Kitchen + Bar. A youth choir will sing uplifting spirituals from Revelations near the lobby, where ticketholders are invited to shop an artisan marketplace of gifts worthy of your No. 1 Mom. For brunch reservations, call (973) 642-1226.

This performance will be an encore of Friday night's programming.


For more information on the Ailey organization's performances, training and educational programs, visit www.alvinailey.org.

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