The Board of Trustees of Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation today announced that Robert Battle, Artistic Director of Ailey since 2011, has informed them that he needs to focus on his health and has submitted his resignation.
The Board has accepted Mr. Battle’s resignation with regret. Mr. Battle will remain available to the Board through December 31, 2023.
Daria Wallach, Chair of the Ailey Board of Trustees, said, “Robert Battle has served the Ailey organization with talent, verve, and distinction over the past dozen years. The Board, the Company, the staff, and the dance world recognize and applaud the contributions he has made to expanding the repertoire, fostering the work of choreographers, supporting Ailey’s wide-ranging education activities, and serving as an ambassador for dance. We offer him our warmest gratitude.”
Robert Battle said, “The personal and professional bonds I’ve forged at Ailey working with the Company’s exceptional dancers and so many other great artists will always mean the world to me, but I know this is the right moment for me to move on and focus on my health. I look back on these past twelve years with warmth and gratitude.”
Associate Artistic Director Matthew Rushing, supported by Ailey’s artistic team, will take responsibility for leading the Company in its upcoming holiday engagement at New York City Center.
Ailey now enters a period of transition, as the Board begins the search to identify a new Artistic Director. The organization does so from a position of strength, as Ailey kicks off an exciting 65th anniversary season.
Robert Battle became Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in July 2011 after being personally selected by Judith Jamison, making him only the third person to head the Company since it was founded in 1958.
Mr. Battle has a long-standing association with the Ailey organization. A frequent choreographer and artist in residence at Ailey since 1999, he has set many of his works on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Ailey II, and at The Ailey School. The Company’s current repertory includes his ballets Ella, For Four, In/Side, Love Stories finale, Mass, and Unfold. In addition to expanding the Ailey repertory with works by artists as diverse as Kyle Abraham, Aszure Barton, Mauro Bigonzetti, Ronald K. Brown, Camille A. Brown, Rennie Harris, Paul Taylor, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Mr. Battle has also instituted Ailey’s New Directions Choreography Lab to help develop the next generation of choreographers.
Mr. Battle’s journey to the top of the modern dance world began in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami, Florida. He showed artistic talent early and studied dance at a high school arts magnet program before moving on to Miami’s New World School of the Arts, under the direction of Daniel Lewis and Gerri Houlihan, and finally to the dance program at The Juilliard School, under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy, where he met his mentor, Carolyn Adams. He danced with Parsons Dance from 1994 to 2001, and also set his choreography on that company starting in 1998. Mr. Battle then founded his own Battleworks Dance Company, which made its debut in 2002 in Düsseldorf, Germany, as the U.S. representative to the World Dance Alliance’s Global Assembly. Battleworks subsequently performed extensively at venues including The Joyce Theater, Dance Theater Workshop, American Dance Festival, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.
Mr. Battle was honored as one of the “Masters of African American Choreography” by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2005, and he received the prestigious Statue Award from the Princess Grace Foundation-USA in 2007. He is a recipient of the 2021 Dance Magazine Award and has honorary doctorates from The University of the Arts, Marymount Manhattan College, and Fordham University. Mr. Battle was named a 2015 Visiting Fellow for The Art of Change, an initiative by the Ford Foundation, and most recently was named to the Crain’s New York Business Hall of Fame Class of 2023. He is a sought-after keynote speaker and has addressed a number of high-profile organizations, including the United Nations Leaders Programme and the UNICEF Senior Leadership Development Programme.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
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, posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian honor, and guided by Judith Jamison beginning in 1989, the Company has been led since 2011 by Robert Battle, whom Judith Jamison chose as her successor.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has performed for an estimated 25 million people in 71 countries on six continents, promoting the uniqueness of the African American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance tradition.
In addition to being the Principal Dance Company of New York City Center, where its performances have become a year‐end tradition, the Ailey company performs annually at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA, and at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark (where it is the Principal Resident Affiliate), and appears frequently in other major theaters throughout the world during extensive tours.
The Ailey organization also includes Ailey II (1974), a second performing company of emerging young dancers and innovative choreographers; The Ailey School (1969), one of the most extensive dance training programs in the world; Ailey Arts In Education & Community Programs, which brings dance into the classrooms, communities, and lives of people of all ages; and The Ailey Extension (2005), a program offering dance and fitness classes to the general public, which began with the opening of Ailey’s permanent home—the largest building dedicated to dance in New York City, the dance capital of the world—named The Joan Weill Center for Dance, at 55th Street at 9th Avenue in New York City.
For more information, visit www.alvinailey.org.
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