The Ailey organization is reaching out to share the Ailey spirit with people wherever they are during this challenging time through Ailey All Access – an online streaming series featuring performances of full length works from the repertory, Ailey Extension dance classes, and original short films created by the Ailey dancers, and other especially created content.
Ailey All Access will kick-off on Monday, March 30th, the date of the first performance of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, with Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, acclaimed as a must-see for all. The film is a jewel from the Live from Lincoln Center treasure trove and, in honor of this anniversary, will be simultaneously presented by Lincoln Center At Home, a portal to a wide variety of digital offerings. Introduced by Artistic Director Robert Battle and with commentary from some of the dancers, the 7 pm ET screening of this American masterpiece will be previewed earlier in the day with a 3 pm ET workshop led by dancer Hope Boykin who will teach excerpts of the choreography. Viewers are also invited to join in the dance by sharing videos with words or moves that express #MyRevelations.
“Alvin Ailey created the ultimate prayer about overcoming adversity through hope and faith,” stated Artistic Director Robert Battle. “During this period, it is fitting that we are launching Ailey All Access with his Revelations on the Company’s birthday. I know in my heart that he would be proud to see that we are taking on a challenge and seizing an opportunity to explore new ways of lifting up hearts, minds and spirits with the transformative power of dance.”
Springing from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s groundbreaking first performance in 1958, the Ailey organization manifests founder Alvin Ailey’s belief that “dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people” with performances, training and educational programs for all. Since the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) caused the suspension of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s United States tour, Ailey II’s New York season, Ailey Extension’s classes, Arts In Education activities in the schools, and the training programs of The Ailey School, this initiative will fill a void with a variety of digital dance offerings from all parts of the organization to inspire, entertain and educate in the coming weeks.
The performance series will continue with regularly scheduled weekly performances each Thursday, beginning April 2 at 7 pm ET with Ailey II’s rising stars in works by two choreographers from the “Ailey family.” Ailey Company member Yannick Lebrun’s intimate Saa Magni (pronounced ‘SAH MAHg-knee’) – the title means “death is terrible” – is a passionate duet dealing with mourning and solace is set to music by Malian singer Oumou Sangaré featuring movement with striking lines and full-bodied lifts. South African-born Bradley Shelver’s high-energy Where There Are Tongues is inspired by the idea that we are all in this world together, succeeding or failing as a collective. The rhythmically complex music, by French a cappella group Lo Còr De La Plana, couples with Shelver’s quirky style to make dance theater that sets pulses racing.
On Thursday, April 9th, viewers will be treated to Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison’s Divining, a pulsating, mysterious quest with African polyrhythms, complex movement and dynamic dancing. Other upcoming broadcasts include Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Camille A. Brown’s City of Rain and Rennie Harris’ Lazarus.
The Ailey dancers are conceiving and creating short films and a variety of other content curated by dancer and Social Media Content Creator Danica Paulos. Upon returning home after the tour was suspended, company members shared a video that reminded us of our connection despite circumstances as featured in The New York Times article entitled “Ailey Dancers, Separate but Together in a Bit of ‘Revelations.” Subsequently, dancer Jessica Amber Pinkett reminded us how to be creative and find enjoyment throughout a New York apartment with a video dancing Artistic Director Robert Battle’s Ella. The #TheShowMustGoOn series continues today with the premiere of a new video inspired by Rennie Harris’ Lazarus.
The Ailey School will be providing online educational opportunities for The Ailey/Fordham BFA program, The Actors Studio, and Professional Performing Arts School. The Ailey School’s Junior Division will be implementing The Ailey JD PEP Challenge, an eight-week challenge for nearly 1,000 students to keep the PEP in their step with weekly lessons that include Ailey video greetings, checklists for guided and independent dance activities, including directions for warm-up, center and movement combinations and 15-minute instructional videos to guide students in executing lessons tailored to student’s age and proficiency. The main goals of the challenge are to: Preserve the Ailey Junior Division sense of community; Engage students in technique-based movement activities; and Provide parents and students with access to Ailey online resources and introduce them to resources from the dance community at large
Ailey Arts In Education & Community Programs will continue to share the joy of dance with students of all ages by offering recorded video dance classes led by Ailey Teaching Artists and Musicians for grades Pre-K through 12 in the style of the popular AileyDance Kids school residency program featuring techniques such as West African, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Modern. Specially curated curriculum-based lessons inspired by Alvin Ailey’s ballets Revelations and Night Creature will also be available. For ages 50 and up, video sessions of its AileyDance for Active Seniors program, will invite older dance enthusiasts to access quality instruction, adapted for various levels of ability, from the comfort of their home.
Ailey Extension’s dance and fitness program for the general public will continue to enrich and energize real people by leaping from the studio into homes by releasing new classes from Monday, March 30 – Friday, April 10 to keep everyone dancing on a daily basis. Videos led by experts in their fields will be posted on Instagram TV and YouTube every other day featuring classes for all levels like Afro’Dance with Angel Kaba, DanceFIT with Karen Arceneaux, Heels with Courtney Sauls, Hip-Hop Challenge with TweetBoogie, Salsa with Baila Society, Theater Dance with Lainie Munro, West African with Maguette Camara, and more. A schedule of livestreams will also feature the Extension’s roster of instructors who will be sharing classes like: Age-Defying Therapeutic Stretches and Ballet with Finis Jhung on Instagram and Facebook (Tuesday – Sunday at 11 am ET), Beginner Horton with Terri Wright on Instagram Live (Sundays at 1pm ET), DanzaTone (Tuesdays & Thursdays at 9 am ET) and Zumba (Mondays at noon ET) on Zoom with Jose Ozuna, Samba with Danielle Lima on Zoom (Thursdays at 7:30 pm ET), as well as a variety of other workshops at dates and times to be announced. Links to all videos and livestreams and any updates will be shared at aileyextension.com/keepdancing.
As we move forward together, the Ailey organization will continue to find ways to build community, uplift with Ailey’s artistry, and celebrate the indomitable human spirit through dance. To enjoy a variety of digital content, follow Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Ailey Extension on Facebook and Instagram, Ailey II on Facebook, and The Ailey School on Instagram, as well as visit Ailey All Access and www.alvinailey.org regularly for updates. Now in its seventh decade, the Ailey organization looks forward to serving all people with Ailey All Access and a full schedule of offerings as soon as possible.
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, recent posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian honor, and guided by Judith Jamison beginning in 1989, the Company is now led by Robert Battle, whom Judith Jamison chose to succeed her on July 1, 2011. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has performed for an estimated 25 million people in 71 countries on 6 continents – as well as millions more through television broadcasts, film screenings, and online platforms – 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 Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami‐Dade County in Miami, 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 United States and the world during extensive yearly 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.