HW Pick: Alvin Ailey Dance Theater National Tour Opens

alvin ailey gala1On February 2, 2016Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, beloved as one of the world’s most popular dance companies, shared its inspiring artistry with audiences during a 20-city North American tour started tonight at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The tour will take the Company to major cities including Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, and will culminate at the Prudential Hall of the New Jersey Performing in Newark on May 8th.

Artistic Director Robert Battle also announced that, following the tour, the Company will return to Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater from June 8th – 19th. The two-week engagement opens with an Ailey Spirit Gala performance featuring the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater joined by rising stars of Ailey II, gifted young dancers from The Ailey School, and inspiring students from AileyCamp in a benefit for scholarships and Arts In Education programs. Following the performance, a dance party will take place on the promenade. The full Lincoln Center season program will be announced at a later date and performance tickets, starting at $25, go on sale Monday, April 11th.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s North American tour begins at the start of Black History Month, and Alvin Ailey’s pioneering legacy of uplifting, uniting, and celebrating the human spirit lives on as Ailey’s extraordinary dancers bring to life new productions of three of his classic works, along with a wide array of premieres, and the American masterpiece Revelations.

Audiences from coast to coast will have the opportunity to experience Robert Battle’s artistry and personal story this season via the stage and the page. Awakening, his first world premiere since becoming Artistic Director, is a charged ensemble work that leads the audience on a cathartic journey of dissonance and harmony, chaos and resolution. Battle’s personal awakening is shared in MY STORY, MY DANCE: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey, a Simon & Schuster children’s book based upon his life. Award-winning husband-and-wife team James Ransome and Lesa Cline-Ransome created the vibrant illustrations and wrote the inspiring narrative about a boy who, despite physical challenges and personal hardships, has a life filled with music, church, and, after seeing Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, dance.

In addition to Awakening, the Company’s touring repertory will include two other dynamic world premieres. Ronald K. Brown’s Cuban-influenced Open Door is set to vibrant music from Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra’s latest album Cuba: The Conversation Continues, and is heavily inspired by Brown’s travels to the island over the years. Hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris’ Exodus exemplifies his view of hip-hop as a “celebration of life,” and explores the idea of “exodus” as a necessary step toward enlightenment.

The incomparable Ailey dancers will also introduce national audiences to two exciting company premieres during the tour. Robert Battle’s stirring No Longer Silent brings to life a score by Erwin Schulhoff, a composer whose music was banned by the Nazis, and who died in a concentration camp in 1942. Paul Taylor’s Piazzolla Caldera takes place in a smoky tango club where 12 men and women engage in a series of fiery encounters, in turns playful and predatory.

 The Company will also perform in new productions of three beloved Ailey classics: Cry, the tour-de-force solo made famous by Judith Jamison and dedicated to “all black women everywhere,” Love Songs, set to music by Nina Simone and Donny Hathaway and often considered the male counterpart to Cry, and Blues Suite, Ailey’s original masterpiece that launched the Company during its first performance in 1958. Audiences will also have the chance to see new productions of Judith Jamison’s emotional and sensual A Case of You duet, set to Diana Krall’s song by the same title, and Talley Beatty’s exuberant Toccata, staged 20 years after his passing.

In addition to Ailey’s must-see classic Revelations, returning favorites include Matthew Rushing’s ODETTA, the acclaimed tribute to “the voice of the Civil Rights Movement,” Odetta Holmes, and Christopher Wheeldon’s dreamlike After the Rain Pas de Deux.

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The Ailey Organization continues its mission of using dance to educate young people through special activities, including master classes, student performances, and lecture demonstrations throughout the tour. Revelations Residencies – an innovative curriculum-based initiative for public school students which utilizes Alvin Ailey’s signature masterpiece Revelations as the inspirational framework for an in-depth study of language arts, social studies and dance – will also be implemented in New York, Miami, Chicago, and the Los Angeles area.

Additionally, The Ailey Extension brings The Ailey Experience to Atlanta, Miami, and Chicago, allowing students to learn about the creative heritage of Alvin Ailey through classes taught by former Ailey dancers and current Ailey Extension instructors.

Audiences are also invited to “join in the dance” during their next New York City visit. The “Ticket to Dance” promotion allows audience members to try their first Ailey Extension class FREE with an Ailey performance ticket stub. The Ailey Extension offers over 80 classes per week for people of all levels at Ailey’s home, The Joan Weill Center for Dance, New York’s largest building dedicated to dance. The offer is good for 60 days from the performance date for first-time students, and when purchasing a 10-class card for returning students.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater continues to inspire all during the 2015-16 season, which has been declared “a wow” by The Huffington Post and one of the Company’s “most exciting seasons yet” by Metro. For more information, visit www.alvinailey.org. 

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