On December 4, 2019, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 2019-2020 holiday season engagement at New York City Center kicked off with a star-studded Opening Night Gala Benefit performance.
The party led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, with award-winning actress and singer Renée Elise Goldsberry as honorary chair Elaine Wynn and The Elaine P. Wynn & Family Foundation, were honored for their generous contributions which have supported the creation of new works as well as the Elaine Wynn & Family Education Wing, which in 2017 added three floors – featuring four dance studios and two classrooms – to The Joan Weill Center for Dance, New York’s largest building dedicated to dance. The award was presented by Battle and accepted by Elaine Wynn.
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The evening’s program featured a one-night-only performance of two Merce Cunningham Centennial Solos that were part of this year’s 100th anniversary celebration of his birth – marking the first time this landmark choreographer’s work was seen on the Ailey stage – as well as a special excerpt of Artistic Director Robert Battle’s Channels to honor and memorialize opera great Jessye Norman, set to her recorded performance of a Johannes Brahms lied – a 19th-century German art song – and culminated with Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece Revelations, performed with live music.
Following the performance, the celebration continued at the New York Midtown Hilton’s Grand Ballroom where approximately 800 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. Special guests in attendance from the worlds of entertainment, business, philanthropy and politics included Angela Bassett, Charles Blow, Jillian Hervey (Lion Babe), André Holland, Sunny Hostin, Judith Jamison, Carmen de Lavallade, Phylicia Rashad, Ryan Jamaal Swain, Lorraine Toussaint, and many more.
The gala Co-Chairs were Emily & Len Blavatnik, Paulette Mullings Bradnock & Howard Bradnock, Mellody Hobson & George Lucas, Daria L & Eric J. Wallach and Joan & Sandy Weill. Nearly $2.3 million was raised in support of the creation of new works, scholarships to The Ailey School – which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and Ailey’s extensive educational programs for young people.
Throughout the New York City Center engagement, 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 coast-to-coast city tour beginning in February 2020.
For information about the launch of visit Five-Week Holiday Engagement
Photo credit: 1) Robert Battle By Pete Monsanto. 2) Sunny Hostin. 3) Tracy Inman and Ryan Jamaal Swain. Photo by Christopher Duggan. 4) Gillian Wynn. Photo by Pete Monsanto. 5) Glorya Kaufman and Judith Jamison. 6) Lorraine Toussant. Photo by Pete Monsanto Photo by Pete Monsanto. 7) Lucinda Martinez. 8) Jillian “Lion Babe” Hervey. Photo by Pete Monsanto. 9) André Holland. Photo by Pete Monsanto. 10) Angela Bassett. Photo by Pete Monsanto.11) Charles Blow. Photo by Pete Monsanto. 12) Chair Renée Elise Goldsberry. Photo by Pete Monsanto. 13) Paulette Mullings Bradnock. Photo by Pete Monsanto. 14) Jermaine Terry and friend. Photo by Pete Monsanto.