HBO salutes Ailey at 60 with a social media video series to launch during Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 60th Anniversary New York City Center season November 28 – December 30, 2018. This tribute video series will introduce new audiences to the Ailey legacy through moving commentary from music, film, and TV stars – Jussie Smollett, Vanessa Williams, Jillian Hervey, and Black Thought – who share how Ailey has inspired their artistry, impacted American culture, and continues to reach people of all ages backgrounds around the globe.
The series kicked off on Monday, December 3 with actor, singer, and activist Jussie Smollett paying homage to the man who inspired him from childhood to today. Known for his role on FOX’s Empire and a burgeoning solo music career, Smollett says in the series, “Ailey has been one of the biggest influences of my artistic life.” He goes on to praise the Company for creating “a celebratory vibe of our culture,” and breaking ground during a fraught time in American history. “When I see the Ailey company…I see freedom.”
The second video features actress, singer, and author Vanessa Williams and her daughter singer, dancer, and activist Jillian Hervey (of Lion Babe) retelling their family tradition of passing on Ailey to the next generation – which began when Vanessa’s mother first brought her to a Company performance as a young girl – and about how Ailey influenced their lives and artistic paths. The final video in the series features Black Thought (The Roots) discussing the work and personal influence of hip-hop choreographer, Rennie Harris (whose fourth Ailey ballet, Lazarus, premieres at City Center), and how the legacy created by Alvin Ailey reinforces the possibilities for young people.
“We are excited to help support this cultural treasure and extend its reach in new ways,” said Lucinda Martinez, SVP of Multicultural and International Marketing at HBO and Ailey Board Member. “These respected entertainers will help to spread the Ailey legacy and bring dance ‘back to the people,’ as Mr. Ailey always emphasized.”
“I am thrilled to introduce new audiences to Alvin Ailey – the man and the Company – through this HBO-produced artist-inspired tribute series,” said Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Robert Battle. “We hope these videos encourage even more people to join us in celebrating the human spirit through the African-American cultural experience and modern dance tradition during this milestone season”
Viewers can learn how the lasting vision of Alvin Ailey – a trailblazer who founded the Company at the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement – went on to permeate culture and inspire people from all walks of life to achieve their dreams by following the series on Ailey’s Facebook and Instagram. All are encouraged to join in the conversation and share their Ailey inspiration using #AlvinAiley #Ailey60 #AileyAscending.
Tickets for season performances start at $29, and are now on sale at the New York City Center Box Office, through CityTix® at (212) 581-1212, or online at www.alvinailey.org or www.nycitycenter.org.
For more information, visit www.alvinailey.org.