The opening night program on Thursday, February 20 unveils Ailey dancer and Resident Choreographer Jamar Roberts’ Ode – a meditation on the beauty and fragility of life in a time of growing gun violence. Like his critically-acclaimed Members Don’t Get Weary (2017), this work for six dancers features his own costume designs and a jazz score – Don Pullen’s “Suite (Sweet) Malcolm (Part 1 Memories and Gunshots).” A member of the Company since 2002, Roberts has become renowned for his powerful performances on world stages, including at The White House and as a guest star with London’s Royal Ballet, receiving the prestigious New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” award for Outstanding Performer. Other works gracing the opening program include Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison’s Divining, a revival of her first major choreographic effort which incorporates African polyrhythms and complex movement, as well as Alvin Ailey’s timeless classic Cry, the 16-minute tour-de-force solo choreographed as a birthday present to his mother and dedicated to “all black women everywhere – especially our mothers.” The opening performance is also WSB-TV’s Family 2 Family Night. This program repeats on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m.
Friday, February 21 program debuts Donald Byrd’s Greenwood, a riveting ensemble work that draws on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre as a source. Set to music by Israeli violist and composer Emmanuel Witzthum, Greenwood navigates through one of the worst incidents of racial violence in US history and explores the story through different lenses of those who were affected. A TONY nominee (The Color Purple), Bessie Award-winner (The Minstrel Show), and 2019 Doris Duke Artist Award recipient, Byrd is celebrated for exploring complex societal issues through dance. Along with Artistic Director Robert Battle and Fulton County Remembrance Coalition’s “Stories From the Soil” founder Allison Bantimba, Byrd will be part of a discussion moderated by CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield called Greenwood & Stories from the Soil: Reveal, Remember, Reconcile at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights on Thursday, January 16 at 6:30 p.m. The lasting impact of a teacher’s influence on a young child is at the heart of the exuberant opening work – Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Ounce of Faith. This program also repeats on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
The matinee programs on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. (Family Matinee performance by a Q&A with Ailey dancers) and Sunday, Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. feature the company premieres of Aszure Barton’s dazzling BUSK, an episodic look at the nature of performance and the vulnerabilities that artists face in revealing themselves onstage, and Camille A. Brown’s quietly lyrical City of Rain, a work honoring a close friend that passed away due to an illness that paralyzed him from the waist down. Brown uses the physicality and vulnerability of 10 dancers to share his story. This program also includes the return of repertory favorite A Case of You, an emotional and sensual duet by Judith Jamison.
In addition to the exciting premieres, the inspiring finale of all programs will be Alvin Ailey’s American masterpiece Revelations, acclaimed around the world for sending hearts soaring and lifting audiences to their feet. Since its debut in 1960, Revelations has been seen by more people than any other modern dance work and has moved audiences around the world through its powerful storytelling and soul-stirring music, evoking timeless themes of determination, hope, and transcendence. 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.
In 1958, Alvin Ailey and a small group of dancers took the stage in New York and forever changed American dance and culture. One of the country’s groundbreaking greats, his Company inspires all in a universal celebration of the human spirit using the African-American cultural experience and the modern dance tradition. More than 60 years after its founding, Ailey continues to move forward under the leadership of Robert Battle, revealing time and again why Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is one of the world’s most beloved dance companies.
Destination Dance Ailey Atlanta
In addition to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s fascinating live performances, the Ailey organization is also excited for the continuation of Destination Dance in Atlanta. This year’s activities include:
- Revelations: An Interdisciplinary Approach residency, Monday, February 10 – Friday, February 14 at M. Agnes Jones Elementary and Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy. This innovative curriculum based initiative utilizes Alvin Ailey’s signature work, Revelations, as the inspirational framework for a comprehensive study of language arts, social studies, and dance.
- Ailey Experience, Saturday, February 15 – Sunday, February 16 at Atlanta’s Resource for Entertainment & Arts (AREA). Funded by Home Depot, the Ailey Experience workshops give dancers ages 8+ the opportunity to study with leading instructors and former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater company members. Students will learn the rich history of Ailey’s signature style and how he changed the perception of American modern dance.
- The Ailey School Auditions, Saturday, February 22 at 6:15 p.m. (ages 11-15) and 8 p.m. (ages 16-25) at Atlanta Ballet. The mission of The Ailey School is to make dance accessible to outstanding students through a curriculum of rigorous and diversified dance training. Nearly 70% of current Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater members received their pre-professional training from The Ailey School, including Georgia’s own Christopher Wilson.
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 current partners include AREA (Atlanta’s Resource for Entertainment & Arts), Cultural Experience Project / Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs, Dance Canvas, ELEVATE Public Art Festival / Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs, The Gathering Spot, The Fox Theatre, High Museum of Art, National Black Arts Festival, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Reining Victory Dance Studio, Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University and Atlanta public and private schools, including M. Agnes Jones Elementary School. For more information, visit Destination.Dance.
For more information on Ailey’s upcoming performances, visit www.alvinailey.org.