Following a five-week season launch in New York City, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will continue to grace stages from coast to coast during a 21-city North American tour includingthe Auditorium Theatre in Chicago March 7 through 11 and Sangamon Auditorium, University of Illinois in Springfield on March 12.
On Feb. 6, a week-long engagement at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. kicks off with a gala to benefit Ailey's D.C. programs, including the creation of new works, arts-in-education activities, and scholarships to talented young area dancers to attend The Ailey School in New York. Other cities throughout the tour include Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Houston, Boston and Berkeley, culminating with a Mother's Day performance in Newark on May 13.
Artistic Director Robert Battle leads Ailey's 32 extraordinary dancers as they continue the Company's legacy of using the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition to uplift, unite, and enlighten. The tour's expansive repertory — which varies from city to city — includes returning favorites, new productions, and world premieres by some of the freshest choreographic voices in modern dance.
Ailey star Jamar Roberts' Members Don't Get Weary is his first world premiere for the Company, which he joined in 2002. Roberts says the work is "a response to the current social landscape in America," and "takes an abstract look into the notion of one 'having the blues.'" Set to the powerful music of the legendary jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane 50 years after his death, the work aims to allow the audience to momentarily transcend their own personal blues.
Spanish choreographer Gustavo RamÃ≠rez Sansano's work takes the Ailey stage for the first time with his world premiere, Victoria. Spanish for "victory," the work is a tribute to the triumph of good over evil. Set to an adaptation of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony by award-winning composer Michael Gordon, Victoria features Sansano's signature whimsy, theatricality, and physicality. Sansano's work — hailed for its originality and expressiveness — has appeared on companies around the world, including Nederlands Dans Theater, CompañÃ≠a Nacional de Danza, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Ballet HispÃ°nico, and Atlanta Ballet.
The tour will also include a striking Company premiere by Robert Battle, and riveting new productions by three American dance innovators. Battle's Mass is an ensemble work that gives physical life to a haunting score by frequent collaborator John Mackey. Tony Award-winning choreographer Twyla Tharp's The Golden Section is a sizzling ensemble work filled with breathtaking leaps, finely-honed partnering, and explosive joy, and is set to a propulsive score by David Byrne. Urban Bush Women founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Shelter — a gripping portrait of homelessness, set to an inventive score featuring drumming by Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn, poetry by Hattie Gossett and Laurie Carlos, and an adapted text by Zollar and Paloma McGregor that references recent natural disasters — returns to the Ailey stage 25 years after first being performed by the Company. Ailey also celebrates modern dance pioneer Talley Beatty during his centennial with the return of Stack-Up, set to the background of vibrant 1970s beats ( Earth, Wind & Fire, Grover Washington Jr., Fearless Four, and Alphonze Mouzon ) and a graffiti landscape. Inspired by Los Angeles' urban landscape and the lives of its disparate inhabitants, the work depicts the emotional "traffic" in a community that is stacked on top of each other.
And of course, the tour would be incomplete without Alvin Ailey's American masterpiece Revelations, which will reach every city. Since its creation in 1960, Revelations has been seen by more audiences around the world than any other modern work, inspiring generations through its powerful storytelling and soul-stirring spirituals. Springing from Ailey's childhood memories of growing up in the south and attending services at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Texas, Revelations pays homage to the rich cultural heritage of the African-American and explores the emotional spectrum of the human condition. Revelations has been performed as part of Opening Ceremonies of the 1968 Olympics, for six sitting presidents at various events, at the inaugurations of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and at The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison, presented by then First Lady Michelle Obama. Acknowledging its lasting significance after five decades, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution recognizing the artistic and cultural contributions of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the 50th Anniversary of the first performance of Revelations. Hailed by The New York Times as "modern dance's unquestionable greatest hit," this American masterpiece was choreographed when Alvin Ailey was only 29 years old, and is as relevant now as ever.
Complete programming for Ailey's North American tour will be announced in January 2018.
Additional Tour Activities
The Ailey organization is also excited to continue the Destination Dance Ailey Atlanta initiative through 2018. As the choreographer and cultural leader Alvin Ailey said, "Dance came from the people, and it should always be delivered back to the people." The goal of Destination Dance Ailey Atlanta is to engage Atlanta's vibrant cultural community through partnerships between Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater — which has been performing in the city since the 1970s — and Atlanta-based cultural, civic, and educational organizations. The pilot season of the program worked to deepen Ailey's connection and commitment to the city's cultural organizations through diverse year-round programming, and included dance classes, workshops, a panel event, and the first-ever Atlanta performances by Ailey II. Using dance as the centerpiece for engagement, the partner organizations present performances, classes and workshops for the public, education programs in schools, conversations with artists and civic leaders, and more. Destination Dance "connects the dots" between these various activities, and promotes them through the press, email, social media, and a website. The initiative brings together all aspects of the organization ( Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, The Ailey School, Ailey Extension, and Ailey Arts In Education — including AileyCamp ), and currently partners with 10 area organizations. For more information, visit Destination.Dance.
Tour audiences are also invited to enjoy the "Ticket to Dance" promotion during their next visit to New York City. The offer allows audience members to try their first Ailey Extension class FREE with an Ailey performance ticket stub ( offer is good for 60 days from the performance date for first time students, and when purchasing a 10-class card for returning students ). The Ailey Extension offers more than 25 dance and fitness techniques for people of all levels at Ailey's home, The Joan Weill Center for Dance — New York's largest building dedicated to dance — which expanded in the fall of 2017 with the addition of The Elaine Wynn & Family Education Wing. The upward expansion adds three stories to the west side of the building, including four spacious new dance studios, two flexible classrooms, and more. The addition increases Ailey's total class offerings to more than 500 per week, an increase of 20% since the start of the project, making it possible for more students of all levels and ages to "join in the dance."
In conjunction with the tour, Ailey Extension will also step out of The Joan Weill Center for Dance in New York City and into select cities across the country to offer dance workshops to teens and adults of all backgrounds and levels. Designed to expand Alvin Ailey's life-long commitment of bringing dance to everyone, "Ailey Experience" workshops teach students the rich history of Ailey's signature style, which changed the perception of modern American dance around the world. From February through April 2018, former Ailey dancers and world class instructors will lead Ailey Experience workshops in several cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte, and Washington DC. For more information, visit www.aileyextension.com .
The Ailey Organization continues its mission of using dance to educate young people through special activities, including master classes, student performances, lecture-demonstrations throughout the tour, and innovative curriculum-based residencies for public school students. Revelations: An Interdisciplinary Approach, created in 1999, and since implemented nationwide and internationally, uses Mr. Ailey's signature work, Revelations, as an organizing theme for a comprehensive, in-depth study of language arts, social studies and dance. Similarly, Night Creature: An Imaginative Journey Through Dance, uses Mr. Ailey's Night Creature, set to a sparkling score by Duke Ellington, as a framework for young students to explore the power of their imaginations through writing poetry, drawing, and creating their own choreography. This year, residences will be implemented in several cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. In addition, AileyCamp — a free summer program that helps underserved youth reach their full potential — will return to 10 cities across the country next summer: Atlanta, Kansas City, Baltimore, Berkeley, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, New York City ( Washington Heights ), and Newark.
The Ailey School, the official school of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater offering world-class dance training to students ages 2-25, will hold auditions for the 2018-2019 academic programs as well as the 2018 summer intensive in conjunction with the tour, in cities including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, D.C. and New York. Several cities will also feature a Horton Workshop on the night prior to the audition. Annually, The Ailey School trains more than 3,500 students, offering over 400 classes every week. The diversity of its training, together with individualized mentorship, extensive performance opportunities, and support services, is what sets The Ailey School apart from every other dance academy. More than half of the dancers in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater studied at The Ailey School. For further information regarding the audition schedule, please click here.
Nearly 60 years after its founding, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater continues to move forward under the leadership of Robert Battle, revealing once again why it remains one of the world's most beloved dance companies. Come see why The Huffington Post proclaimed, "If you haven't seen Alvin Ailey, you haven't seen dance…the most exciting dance company in the world," and The Chicago Sun-Times called the Company "more electrifying than ever." For more information, visit www.alvinailey.org .
Members Don't Get Weary ( World Premiere )
Choreography by Jamar Roberts Music: John Coltrane
Longtime Ailey dancer and recent "Bessie" Award winner Jamar Roberts makes his choreographic debut on the Company in this world premiere inspired by the blues. Roberts says, "As a response to the current social landscape in America, Members Don't Get Weary takes an abstract look into the notion of one 'having the blues.'" Set to the powerful music of the legendary American jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane, the work aims to inspire the audience, allowing them to momentarily transcend their own personal blues.
Victoria ( World Premiere )
Choreography by Gustavo RamÃ≠rez Sansano Music: Michael Gordon
Gustavo RamÃ≠rez Sansano's work — hailed for its singularity and expressiveness — has appeared on companies around the world, including Nederlands Dans Theater, CompañÃ≠a Nacional de Danza, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Atlanta Ballet. Victoria, Spanish for "victory," is his first work for Ailey, and features 10-12 dancers and his signature whimsy, theatricality, and physicality. Set to Beethoven's Seventh Symphony — adapted by the award-winning composer Michael Gordon — this world premiere is a tribute to the triumph of good over evil, underscoring the power of people to join forces in overcoming difficult situations.
Mass ( 2004 / 2017 Company Premiere )
Choreography by Robert Battle Music: John Mackey
Mass features a score by John Mackey, who has collaborated on multiple occasions with Robert Battle — including his 2015 world premiere Awakening. Commissioned for The Julliard School in 2004, the movement in this work showcases Mr. Battle's signature ritualistic choreography.
The Golden Section ( 1983 / Company Premiere 2006 / New Production 2017 )
Choreography by Twyla Tharp Music: David Byrne
The Golden Section by Tony Award-winning choreographer Twyla Tharp is a sizzling work set to a propulsive score by David Byrne. The work shatters the limits of human physicality with breathtaking leaps, finely-honed partnering, and explosive joy.
Shelter ( 1988 / Company Premiere 1992 / New Production 2017 )
Choreography by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar Music: Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn
Originally performed by the Ailey company in 1992, Zollar's Shelter is a gripping portrait of homelessness. Set to an inventive score which incorporates drumming by Junior "Gabu" Wedderburn, poetry by Hattie Gossett and Laurie Carlos, and new text by Zollar that references recent natural disasters, Shelter delivers the compelling message that the poverty of individuals will inevitably lead to the destitution of all humanity.
Stack-Up ( 1982 / New Production 2017 )
Choreography by Talley Beatty Music: Earth, Wind & Fire, Grover Washington, Jr., Fearless Four, Alphonze Mouzon
Set to the background of a throbbing 1970s beat ( Earth, Wind and Fire, Grover Washington Jr., Fearless Four, and Alphonze Mouzon ) and a graffiti landscape, patrons in a crowded disco dance with attitude, sass, and fierce despair in this classic work by Talley Beatty. Inspired by Los Angeles' urban landscape and the lives of its disparate inhabitants, Stack-Up depicts the emotional "traffic" in a community that is stacked on top of each other. Tough, brutal yet poignant, the stage sizzles with street life, break dancing, and physical pyrotechnics as an aloof drug pusher and two displaced lovers are destined for collision. The work returns to the stage for Beatty's 2018 centennial.
ALVIN AILEY'S MASTERPIECE
Revelations ( 1960 )
Choreography by Alvin Ailey Music: Traditional Spirituals
More than just a popular dance work, Revelations has become a cultural treasure, beloved by generations of fans. An American classic acclaimed as a mustźsee for all, Alvin Ailey's signature masterpiece is a tribute to his heritage and genius. Using African-American spirituals, the work fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul. Seeing Revelations for the first time or the hundredth can be a transcendent experience, with audiences cheering, singing along and dancing in their seats from the opening notes of the plaintive "I Been 'Buked" to the rousing "Wade in the Water" and the triumphant finale, "Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham."
ABOUT 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 nowźfabled 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 AfricanźAmerican 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 yearźend 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 MiamiźDade 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 homethe 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 .