The 2016 Ailey Spirit Gala Launches Two-Week Lincoln Center Season

June 10, 2016

Cicely Tyson and B Michael2Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 2016 Lincoln Center engagement kicked off with a star-studded Ailey Spirit Gala on Wednesday, June 8th. The one-night-only benefit performance and party sponsored by FedEx featured actor Anthony Anderson of black-ish and Barbershop: The Next Cut and journalist Roland S. Martin of TV One and the Tom Joyner Morning Show as Honorary Chairs. Gala Co-Chairs were Gina F. Adams, Lynne & Anthony M. Carvette, Leslie & Tom Maheras, Almaz & Marc S. Strachanand Daria L. & Eric J. Wallach, and Vice Chairs were Michele & Timothy Barakett, Dr. N. Anthony & Robyn Coles, Jaishri & Vikas Kapoor, and Pamela D. Zilly & John H. Schaefer. The evening helped raise over $1 million for Ailey’s extensive educational programs for young people, including AileyCamp and scholarships to The Ailey School.

The Ailey Spirit Gala featured performances by several parts of the Ailey organization, including the world-renowned Ailey dancers in excerpts of Alvin Ailey’s Cry and Robert Battle’s Awakening. The rising stars of Ailey II performed Ray Mercer’s Something Tangible, gifted young dancers from The Ailey School (ages 6 to 23) showcased their talents and the breadth of the program’s training in Concurrence, and talented students from AileyCamp performed a work inspired by Talley Beatty’s The Stack-up. An expanded cast of the present and future stars of Ailey came together for a memorable finale of Alvin Ailey’s timeless Revelations.

Prominent figures in the worlds of entertainment, business, philanthropy, and politics attended the event, including actress Khandi Alexander,musicians Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman of Lion Babe, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader Jon Batiste, legendary dancer and actress Carmen de Lavallade, model Damaris Lewis, actress Phylicia Rashad, stage and screen legend Cicely Tyson, The Daily Showcorrespondent Jessica Williams. After the performance, the celebration continued at the soirée on the promenade. Ailey’s Board of Trustees, including Chair Daria L. Wallach and President Debra L. Lee, Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison, and more than 750 guests joined in dinner and dancing with the Company to the musical stylings of deejay to the starts, DJ M.O.S.

Ailey’s Lincoln Center engagement continues through June 19th, and features the world premieres of MacArthur “Genius” Kyle Abraham’s Untitled America: Second Movement on June 9th and Mauro Bigonzetti’s Deep on June 10th.  New Company members Ashley Mayeuxand Solomon Dumas, and returning dancer Constance Stamatiou join in time for this diverse season of over a dozen works on five different programs. For the comprehensive season press release, with details on the repertory, new dancers, Saturday Family Matinee performances, and the “Ticket to Dance” Ailey Extension free class offer, click here.


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Thursday, June 9th7:30pm

Untitled America: Second Movement by Kyle AbrahamWorld Premiere
In the second installment of this three-part suite, MacArthur “Genius” Kyle Abraham continues to explore the impact of incarceration on African-American families. The spiritual “No More My Lord” paired with contemporary music by Raime will underscore Abraham’s distinct and captivating movement style. Wendy Perron of Dance Magazine praised the first installment of Untitled America by saying, “This is something our culture should be looking at…Kudos to Ailey—and Abraham—for keeping the revelations relevant.”

This work debuts during the 21st Century Voices program on 6/9, and will be performed again on 6/11 (eve), 6/17, &  6/19 (mat).

Friday, June 10th – 8:00pm

Deep by Mauro BigonzettiWorld Premiere
Mauro Bigonzetti, the newly appointed director of La Scala Ballet, returns to Ailey to create a world premiere set to the soulful music of Ibeyi, twin sisters who sing in English and Yoruba (“Ibeyi” is the Yoruba word for twins). Bigonzetti’s last work for the Company was 2008’s Festa Barocca. He is known for his seamless integration of classical and modern techniques, and has been praised for his fresh and inventive sensibility.

This work debuts during the Dance Trailblazers program on 6/10, and will be performed again on 6/11 (mat), 6/12 (eve), 6/14, 6/18 (mat), & 6/19 (eve).

Saturday, June 11th
Family Matinees —  1:00pm Revelations Celebration Public Workshop, 2:00pm Performance
This season, the Company will offer free and fun activities for ticketholders attending Saturday Family Matinees on June 11th and 18th. Prior to the performance, audiences of all ages are invited to join in a special celebration of Alvin Ailey’s signature masterpiece on the promenade with dancing, games and crafts. At 1pm, former Company members Renee Robinson (June 11), Amos Machanic, Jr. (June 11 & 18), and Cheryl Rowley-Gaskins (June 18) will teach steps inspired by Alvin Ailey’s Revelations to participants of all levels. The 2pm performance concludes with a rousing finale of the must-see American classic, followed by a Q&A with the dancers.

Tuesday, June 14th – 7:30pm

The Hunt by Robert Battle – New Production
Artistic Director Robert Battle’s athletic work for six men reveals the predatory side of human nature and the primitive thrill of the chase.  Thundering percussion by Les Tambours du Bronx drives the ritualized movement and pushes the dancers to their physical limits. Originally set on the Company in 2010, just after it was announced that Battle would take over as Artistic Director the following year, The Hunt is inspired by Battle’s martial arts background and showcases the masculinity of Ailey’s male dancers.

Vespers by Ulysses Dove – New Production
The phenomenal Ailey women embody Ulysses Dove’s bold choreographic voice and daring athleticism in Vespers, a dramatic work full of raw energy and profound grace. Mikel Rouse’s percussive score matches the dancers’ insistent drive as they propel themselves across the stage, in a piece inspired by Dove’s memories of his grandmother’s place of worship.

These new productions debut during the Bold Visions on June 14, and will be performed again on 6/18 (mat) and 6/19 (eve).

NYC Dance Week June 16 – 25: Free Classes and Launch of Brazilian Dance Fitness Technique GingaFlex
In celebration of NYC Dance Week, a citywide festival that promotes the joy and diversity of dance, the Ailey Extension will offer select classes for FREE to new students* from June 16 – 25. The featured events of NYC Dance Week at the Ailey Extension will be two FREE classes for ALL students (new and returning). On Saturday, June 18th at 12pm, capoeira instructor Tiba Vieira will debut GingaFlex, his brand new cardio technique. Based on the Brazilian dance/martial art form, GingaFlex is a challenging and mindful full-body workout that increases core strength, flexibility, and balance. On Wednesday, June 22nd at 6:30pm, Yah’Ya Kamate will lead a high-spirited, open level West African class, featuring live drumming. No registration is required for these special open classes (all other NYC Dance Week classes require registration here). For the complete list of FREE NYC Dance Week classes at the Ailey Extension, click here.

*Classes are free for first-time Ailey Extension students only. Returning students receive a free class with purchase of a 10-class card.

Ticket to Dance
“Ticket to Dance” welcomes audience members to try their first Ailey Extension class FREE with the presentation of a performance ticket (returning students receive a free class with the purchase of a 10-class card). The offer is valid for 60 days from the performance date. The Ailey Extension has fulfilled Alvin Ailey’s life‐long commitment of bringing dance to everyone by offering “real classes for real people,” with over 80 classes per week in more than 25 different dance and fitness techniques.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, beloved as one of the world’s most popular dance companies, presents a two-week, 15-performance engagement at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater June 8th – 19th, 2016.  The season kicked off with The Ailey Spirit Gala benefit performance on Wednesday, June 8th, featuring the world-renowned Ailey dancers, and appearances by the rising stars of Ailey II, gifted dancers from The Ailey School, and students from AileyCamp, followed by a soirée on the promenade. This season, Ailey’s acclaimed dancers will perform a diverse repertory featuring the world premieres of Deep by acclaimed Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti and Untitled America: Second Movement, the second work in a three-part suite by MacArthur “Genius” Kyle Abraham. The season also includes new productions of Vespers, Ulysses Dove’s breathtaking ballet for six women, and The Hunt, Robert Battle’s thrilling work for six men, as part of over a dozen works performed on five different programs:

21st Century Voices: Works by today’s preeminent choreographers
Open Door, Untitled America: Second Movement / No Longer Silent / Exodus
Thursday, 6/9 at 7:30pm, Saturday, 6/11 at 8:00pm, Friday, 6/17 at 8:00pm, Sunday, 6/19 at 3:00pm

Dance Trailblazers: Works by three seminal choreographers
Deep / Piazzolla Caldera / Revelations
Friday, 6/10 at 8:00pm, Saturday, 6/11 at 2:00pm (Family Matinee), Sunday, 6/12 at 7:30pm

All Ailey: Four of Alvin Ailey’s classic ballets
Blues Suite / Love Songs, Cry / Revelations
Sunday, 6/12 at 3:00pm, Thursday, 6/16 at 7:30pm

Bold Visions: A diverse quartet of adventurous works
Deep / Vespers, The Hunt / Revelations
Tuesday, 6/14 at 7:30pm, Saturday, 6/18 at 2:00pm (Family Matinee), Sunday, 6/19 at 7:30pm

Musical Inspirations: Four pieces driven by powerful music
Open Door / Awakening, A Case of You / Revelations
Wednesday, 6/15 at 7:30pm, Saturday, 6/18 at 8:00pm

For further information about Ailey’s performances, please visit

Photo credit: Please Credit Photo: Cicely Tyson and B Michael. Photo by Dario Calmese Jr.

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