Ailey’s 60th Anniversary Opening Night Gala And Five-Week Holiday Engagement Launch

On November 28th, 2018, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 60th Anniversary holiday season at New York City Center kicked off with a star-studded Opening Night Gala Benefit performance and party.

The events were led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, with iconic film stars Angela Bassett and Harlemite Cicely Tyson as honorary chairs.

Prudential Financial received the Ailey Legacy Honor for their generous support and commitment to Ailey, especially its education and community programs. The award was presented by Battle and Christopher Taylor, an alumnus of the inaugural AileyCamp Newark (2011) and a current scholarship student at The Ailey School, and accepted by Lata Reddy, Senior Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion and Impact at Prudential Financial.

The one-night-only program featured tributes to the Company’s legendary founder with a specially staged excerpt of Memoria, a work he choreographed as an elegy for a dear friend; a piece d’occasion entitled For Alvin by Robert Battle, set to Nina Simone’s Black is the Color; and culminated with Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece, Revelations, performed with live musicians and special guest singers Ledisi (12-time Grammy-nominated R&B artist), Kenny Lattimore (Grammy-nominated R&B singer), Erica Campbell (Grammy-winning gospel singer), and Brandie Sutton (critically-acclaimed Metropolitan Opera soprano). Becoming Ailey, a multimedia piece that celebrates Alvin Ailey and brings his voice and presence back to the stage (created in collaboration with Bob Bonniol and Caryl Glabb of MODE Studios, Inc.), also premiered.

“Alvin Ailey said ‘I’m trying to hold up a mirror to society so that people can see how beautiful they are.’ In 1958, before the Civil Rights Movement, he “Made a Way Out of No Way” on a trailblazing journey to becoming one of the groundbreaking greats in African American history,” stated Robert Battle. “His celebration of the human spirit has lifted us up and brought us together, and his spirit still runs through the veins of this organization.”

Special guests from the worlds of business, politics, entertainment, and philanthropy included Carmen de Lavallade, Susan Fales-Hill, Jane Krakowski, Naturi Naughton, Soledad O’Brien, Amanda Seales, Bevy Smith, Jussie Smollett, Susan L. Taylor, Ben Vereen, Elaine Wynn, and many more. After the performance, the celebration continued at the New York Midtown Hilton’s Grand Ballroom where approximately 900 guests joined Robert Battle, Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison, and the stars of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for dinner and dancing with live music by the premier band Élan Artists.

The gala Co-Chairs were Emily & Len Blavatnik, Paulette & Howard Bradnock, Mellody Hobson & George Lucas, Debra L. Lee, Stephen Meringoff & Kim Charlton, Lata N. Reddy, Daria L. & Eric J. Wallach, and Joan & Sandy Weill. Over $2.6 million was raised in support of the creation of new works, scholarships to The Ailey School, and Ailey’s extensive educational programs for young people.

In addition, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill DeBlasio and the City of New York, and New York State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal joined in celebration by sending written proclamations recognizing Ailey’s many achievements over the last 60 years.

Throughout December, Ailey’s 32 remarkable dancers will unveil four premieres, two new productions, and a variety of returning favorites, classics, and special programs. The Company will continue to inspire audiences across North America with a 21-city tour beginning in January 2019.

Click here for more information about the December 2018.

Photo credit: 1) Cicely Tyson. Photo by Christopher Duggan. 2) Joan Weill and Robert Battle. Photo by Christopher Duggan. 3) Amanda Seales, Sidra Smith, and Jacque Reid. Photo by Donna Ward. 4) Carmen de Lavallade, George Faison, Sidra Smith and Sylvia Waters. Photo by Christopher Duggan 5) Lucinda Martinez, Amanda Seales, Bevy Smith, and Beverly Bond. Photo by Pete Monsanto. 6) Cicely Tyson and Robert Battle. Photo by Pete Monsanto. 7) Robert Battle and Darren Walker. Photo by Christopher Duggan. 8) Robert Battle and Elaine Wynn. Photo by Christopher Duggan. 8) Debra Lee and Robert Battle. Photo by Christopher Duggan. 9) Eric & Daria Wallach and Robert Battle. Photo by Christopher Duggan. 10) Lucinda Martinez, Honorary Chairs Angela Bassett, Cicely Tyson, Artistic Director Robert Battle, Sidra Smith, B.Michael and guests. Photo by Christopher Duggan.

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