Sony Centre for the Performing Arts Welcomes Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, 2/2-4


Led by Robert Battle in his inaugural season as Artistic Director, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will return to the Sony Centre For The Performing Arts stage, February 2-4, 2012 for four performances that will showcase the brilliant artistry and passionate spirit of Ailey's extraordinary dancers in a series of new works and new productions that extend the vital legacy of Alvin Ailey (1931-1989) in exciting new directions.

Two different programs will be presented, with each performance culminating in Alvin Ailey's beloved masterpiece REVELATIONS, an American classic acclaimed as a must-see for all, and recognized by a U.S. Senate resolution. Alvin Ailey said that one of America's richest treasures was the cultural heritage of the African-American -"sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful." This enduring classic is a tribute to that heritage and to Ailey's genius. Using African-American religious music--spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues--this suite fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul.

Program A includes:
HOME (2011), from bold hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris, is a new work set to a soul-lifting score of gospel house music. The work is inspired by stories submitted to the "Fight HIV Your Way" contest of people living with or affected by HIV, an initiative of Bristol-Myers Squibb. The world premiere of HOME was presented by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on December 1st in New York on World AIDS Day and the day Alvin Ailey passed away from the disease 22 years ago.

For his first season as Artistic Director, Robert Battle is bringing his fiery TAKADEME (1999), one of his first creations and a pivotal work in his career, to the Ailey company. The complex, tightly woven rhythms of Indian Kathak dance are deconstructed and abstracted in this percussive, fast-paced work, where humor, fast-paced movements and propulsive jumps mimic the vocalized rhythmic syllables of Sheila Chandra's jazzy score.

Robert Battle's athletic tour-de-force for six men, THE HUNT (2001), reveals the predatory side of human nature and the primitive thrill of the hunt. A thundering percussion soundtrack by Les Tambours du Bronx drives the explosive movement that runs the gamut from modern sports to the rituals of the gladiators.

A meditative female solo, JOURNEY (1958), choreographed by Joyce Trisler (1934-1979) is set to "The Unanswered Question" by Charles Ives, a brief, intensely evocative orchestral mood poem. An early friend and colleague of Alvin Ailey, Joyce Trisler performed with him in the Lester Horton Dance Theater in the early 1950s in Los Angeles and later danced and choreographed for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York. Journey was one of the early works that Alvin Ailey added to the company's repertory, in 1964, believing it would be a modern classic.

Program B includes:
In homage to the legacy and artistry of Alvin Ailey, Robert Battle selected the landmark work STREAMS (1970), the first full-length dance Mr. Ailey created without a plot. A major success when it premiered, STREAMS is a gorgeous exploration of the architecture of bodies in space, through stunning solos, duets and groups passages that reflect the powerful score by Miloslav Kabelac.

The vivid emotions of Nina Simone singing "Wild is the Wind" play out in Robert Battle's gripping solo IN/SIDE (2008). The bold, unrestrained style that has become his signature is evinced in this visceral cry of pure physicality. IN/SIDE was first incorporated into the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater repertory in 2009.

Modern dance master Paul Taylor supervised the staging of ARDEN COURT (1981), a technically challenging work (rarely performed by companies other than his own) on the Ailey company, the first of his works to enter the Ailey repertory. Set to a sumptuous baroque score by William Boyce, ARDEN COURT is a richly dynamic dance featuring striking duets, solos and a men's sextet showcasing the dancers' skills and musicality. Mr. Taylor is one of the artistic inspirations for Robert Battle, whose choreography often reflects the expansive use of space that is a hallmark of Mr. Taylor's work.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recognized by U.S. Congressional resolution as a vital American "Cultural Ambassador to the World," grew from a now-fabled March 1958 performance in New York that changed forever the perception of American dance. Founded by Alvin Ailey, and guided by Judith Jamison beginning in 1989, the Company is now led by Robert Battle, whom Judith Jamison chose to succeed her on July 1, 2011. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has performed for an estimated 23 million people in 71 countries on 6 continents, promoting the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance tradition.

SONY CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, Toronto's first performing arts centre, has played a defining role in the cultural life of Toronto for more than 50 years. Today, the newly renovated Sony Centre is home to a roster of national and international artists that reflect the diversity and sophistication of 21st century Toronto. In addition, the Sony Centre is dedicated to developing Toronto's younger audiences through family programming; workshops targeted towards school-aged audiences, an under-30 membership program, and other community initiatives including an international culinary experience.

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