The Kennedy Center Presents Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
With a mix of exhilarating premieres, new productions, and retuning favorites, the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) marks its annual Kennedy Center engagement with seven performances on the Opera House stage from February 4-9. Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, the company has had a long-standing impact on the world of modern dance and a unique role in celebrating the African American cultural experience. The company's performances include premieres from esteemed choreographer Donald Byrd and Ailey dancer and first-ever resident choreographer Jamar Roberts that shine a spotlight on social issues. The engagement will see three D.C. debuts; two new productions; and two company premieres, along with Alvin Ailey's American masterpiece Revelations, which will be performed as the finale for all seven programs.
Washington, D.C. Premieres
Washington, D.C. premieres include Ounce of Faith by Darrell Grand Moultrie, Ode by Jamar Roberts, and Greenwood by Donald Byrd. A work for 12 dancers, Ounce of Faith focuses on the lasting impact of a teacher's influence on a young child. Using a mix of jazz standards, original music, and spoken word, Moultrie reflects on the legacies that we are all a part of and the notion that "when someone has an ounce of faith in you, it can change the course of your life."
Jamar Roberts's Ode is a mediation on the beauty and fragility of life in a time of growing gun violence. This work features a jazz score-Don Pullen's "Suite (Sweet) Malcolm (Part 1 Memories and Gunshots)"-and Roberts's own costume designs. Ode is the first in a series of three works he is creating in his new role as Resident Choreographer.
In his fifth work for the company, Donald Byrd's Greenwood draws on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma's segregated Greenwood District, which will mark its centennial in 2021. Greenwood, a ensemble work, navigates through one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history and explores the story through different lenses of those who were affected. The work features music by Israeli violist and composer Emmanuel Witzthum.
New Productions from the 2019-2020 Season
New productions of existing works this season include Divining by Judith Jamison and Fandango by Lar Lubovitch. Created in 1989, five years before her tenure as artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Judith Jamison's Divining is set to an original composition by Kimati Dinizulu and Monti Ellison, and builds on a variety of dance idioms from throughout Africa to create a pulsating modern work. Not performed by the company in more than a decade, Lar Lubovitch's Fandango is a sensually athletic duet exploring the number of possibilities of partnering, with the dancers's bodies coming together propelled by the intensity of Maurice Ravel's Bolero.
Company Premieres from the 2019-2020 Season
Company premieres from the 2019-2020 season include City of Rain by Camille A. Brown and BUSK by Aszure Barton. Choreographed in 2010 for her company, City of Rain is a lyrical work honoring the struggles and grace of Brown's close friend, Greg "Blyes" Boomer, who passed away from an illness that paralyzed him from the waist down. Set to an original composition by Jonathan Melville Pratt entitled "Two Way Dream," this restaged work utilizes the vulnerable physicality of 10 dancers to pay tribute to Boomer's story. Internationally-renowned choreographer Aszure Barton's BUSK invites the audience to enjoy the fragility, tenderness, and resilience that exist within the human experience. Created in 2009 for her company, Aszure Barton & Artists, the layered and intricate choreographic structures engage every facet of the dancers's bodies and minds as they tap into the collective-a hive mind-eventually giving way to the nuance of each individual.
Returning works include A Case of You by Judith Jamison as well as perennial favorite Alvin Ailey's American masterpiece Revelations. A Case of You is an emotional and sensual duet performed to Diana Krall's version of Joni Mitchell's song by the same title. The duet was originally created in 2004 by Judith Jamison as a birthday tribute to Ailey's Chairman Emerita Joan Weill and premiered publicly the following year as part of Jamison's larger work, Reminiscin', inspired by Edward Hopper's famous painting Nighthawks and great female jazz artists. Choreographed when he was only 29 years old, Alvin Ailey's Revelations is an intimate reflection inspired by childhood memories of attending services at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Texas and by the work of writers James Baldwin and Langston Hughes. Set to a suite of traditional spirituals, Revelations explores the emotional spectrum of the human condition, from the deepest of grief to the holiest joy and has been seen by more people around the world than any other modern work.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will begin its annual engagement at the Kennedy Center with its 21st Annual Opening Night Gala Benefit on February 4, 2020. Proceeds from the Gala will support Ailey's Washington, D.C. programs, including the creation of new works, arts education activities, and scholarships to talented young dance students from the D.C. area to attend The Ailey School in New York City. As part of the Kennedy Center's educational programming, the company will offer a mini-performance for students on February 6, 2019. Former company members Renee Robinson (a D.C. native) and Michael Leon Thomas will also lead a free Revelations Celebration Workshop on the Millennium Stage on Saturday, February 8 at 5:30 p.m.
Dancers from the D.C. metropolitan area include: Ghrai DeVore & Jermaine Terry joined in 2010 (Washington, D.C.); Samantha Figgins joined in 2014 (Washington, D.C.); Jacqueline Green joined 2011 (Baltimore, MD); Courtney Celeste Spears joined in 2018 (Baltimore, MD); and Corrin Rachelle Mitchell, Jessica Amber Pinkett, and Miranda Quinn joined in 2019 (Baltimore, MD).
The company has come to the Kennedy Center on an almost annual basis since the Center's opening performance in 1971 when Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater participated in the world premiere of Leonard Bernstein's Mass, choreographed by Alvin Ailey.
Tickets start at $49. Tickets can be purchased at the Kennedy Center box office or by calling Instant Charge at (202) 467-4600. Patrons living outside the Washington metropolitan area may dial toll-free at (800) 444-1324. For all other ticket-related customer service inquiries, call the Advance Sales Box Office at (202) 416-8540.